502. How I Wet Your Mother


Original airdate:
March 11, 2012

The premise:
To find the psychological reason behind Homer’s recent… ugh… bed-wetting problem, Professor Frink has the Simpson family enter Homer’s dreams.

The reaction: So, we’ve had a bunch of instances this season of the show trying to be culturally relevant multiple years after a phenomenon, but this is the granddaddy of them all: an Inception parody nearly two years after the film’s release. At this point, everyone and their mother had done one. In an era when regular people can create and upload content immediately online, you just can’t do topical content when your show takes nine months to make. But, Krusty already made it clear earlier in the season, the writers know this, and I guess they don’t care. So the psychological trauma needing to be addressed with dream therapy is caused by Homer suddenly… wetting the bed. There’s not much to really dwell on about this one. It gave the writers opportunity to write such home runs as “Why can’t I cork my wang wine?” because that’s how humans talk. I don’t even think characters in Kevin Smith movies talk like that. We also get Homer doing a sexy striptease with an adult diaper, which is maybe one of the most disturbing things I’ve seen in my whole life. Moving on quickly from that, the family enters Homer’s dreams, where they do their Inception set pieces, like skiing down a mountain, the looming city that folds in on itself, and slow-motion fight sequences when Chief Wiggum appears to fight Professor Frink for absolutely no reason. There’s no real attempts made to actually make jokes about the film, it’s just The Simpsons starring in Inception. Between the bed-wetting opening and this toothless Hollywood naval gazing, by the end we’re expected to care that Homer is being haunted by his child-like belief that he’s the reason his mother left them, but there’s just been too much nonsense to expect me to get sentimental at the very, very end. Plus, there’s been absolutely no clues or buildup to this conclusion, so it ends up coming off as just random. All in all, it just felt like a really long, really boring, and really bad Halloween segment, with a stream of urine jokes at the beginning. …no pun intended.

Three items of note:
– This episode is absolutely riddled with exposition. The whole first act of Homer trying to fix his problem on his own, it ends up leading to him talking to himself about what he should do or his new plan, or one scene where he talks to an imaginary six-armed Apu. Later, the family keeps parroting back the clues they get and what they mean, and the worst of all is when Lisa just happens to know about dream levels and just repeats the explanation lines from Inception. So it’s exposition taken from another movie’s exposition? Exposit-ception? …I’ll see myself out.
– This show has a (bad) habit of characters just showing up in scenes without reason either to give a random joke or to unnaturally push the story along. This might be the crowning example: as Marge takes a night walk after failing to be seduced by a diaper-clad Homer, Professor Frink literally falls out of the sky before her, having been exploded by [insert joke I forgot here]. He knows about Homer’s problem through Twitter, and, despite knowing nothing about why he’s doing it, pitches his dream machine thing to her. I guess this is kind of like the memory wipe machine he had in the Eternal Sunshine parody. Also, when did we get to the point where Professor Frink’s inventions actually work? I miss his malfunctioning psychotic Bobo robot and the malfunctioning Gamble-Tron 2000.
– In the end, the family is saved by Death on a jetpack, who we previously have seen throughout the different dreams, who ends up actually being Mona, Homer’s mother. Why exactly was she in a grim reaper costume? Because she’s dead? This also gives us a “joke” that’s been a huge gripe of mine about this show. Mona reveals herself and says she always lives on in Homer’s dreams. So, Homer is actually face-to-face with his dead mother, who he loved dearly. What do we get after that? A joke where Homer grows in dream hair, Marge cites it as Jennifer Aniston’s Friends hair, then Homer makes a Friends joke. These characters haven’t acted like normal human beings for years now, but it’s moments like this where it becomes the most apparent. Rather than react to amazing, emotional moments in a manner that makes sense, these characters are now just like walking non sequitur joke machines. There was a similar joke way back in “My Mother the Carjacker” when Homer and Mona reunite, and he ends up tearfully hugging a nearby bum, but this time, it’s even worse because a) it should be even more emotional since Mona’s dead, and b) Homer at least expressed his hesitation about opening himself up to his runaway mom before the bum joke. All this being said, when we get to Mona’s goodbye and we see the images of a younger Homer and Abe and she says she’ll always be with him, I can’t take it seriously because this show purposefully undercuts moments like this for no reason, thus making them completely hollow.

One good line/moment: One dream level the family enters is a recreation of an old Tracey Ullman short “Family Therapy.” I understand it’s pure fanservice, but it was still fun to see some elements of the prehistoric show redone, like the twister mouths and Homer’s old Walter Mattheau voice. I almost wish the animation had been even rougher and more accurate to the originals.

19 thoughts on “502. How I Wet Your Mother

  1. “I almost wish the animation had been even rougher and more accurate to the originals.”

    So you wished there was art..
    In this most un-artistic and un-creative era ever?
    During this “Animation = lifeless CGI \ aseptic flash” trend?
    In this dead show?
    In a gimmicky scene of a gimmicky episode?

    1. Hey, don’t be so hopeless! Art is not dead! Is there anything besides The Simpsons being uncreative that made you call this the most un-artistic and un-creative era ever? Also, when do you think The Simpsons became a dead show?

      1. I’m not hopeless, I said this specific era is the worst; really, if you can’t see that on your own, I don’t think my academic explanation will help anyway. Maybe you’re just not that involved by arts.

        I’d say The Simpsons became officially dead during season 11, when the bad characterizations, the bad writing, and exaggerated dumbness of the previous couple of seasons reached the point of no return (and the show definitively lost their own style and started to officially copy Family Guy \ South Park).

    2. That’s true, I am not as involved as arts as you, but you are saying this era is the most uncreative for The Simpsons or uncreative for artists because of all the technology we have to do the work for us? And who are you to question someone for wanting any sort of art? Do you think The Simpsons is as soulless husk as The Emoji Movie if not more soulless husk than it?

  2. That title is absolutely awful and I’m just going to make sure that I never see this episode. Or maybe I will just to see how bad it is.

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention that South Park (especially SP) and Rick and Morty have also done Inception parodies and call them better than this one. If you have anything bad to say about “A Totally Fun Thing That Bart Will Never Do Again” next week, I’m fighting you.

    1. I thought of referencing them, but feel I’ve harped on South Park frequently beating them to the punch enough already. Also there’s the whole plagiarism controversy with that episode I didn’t want to address.

      Also, I haven’t watched “Fun Thing” yet, but given the quality this season, I gotta feeling we’re gonna get into some fisticuffs.

  3. Homer’s also his usual Jerkass self in this, stealing items from work and then framing everyone BUT him (out-and-out saying “Karma’s a bitch, Karma!” at one point.) In fact, that’s why he thinks at the beginning it’s karma’s payback when he… *sigh*… wets himself. But honestly, karma would strike him much harder if it was payback.

  4. “Glenn Close just sounds tired as Mona, which I guess makes sense given her imminent demise. But not even death will keep her from the writers scrounging her character back up one more time, I think in that Inception episode where Homer keeps wetting the bed. Thank God I don’t have to watch that one.”


      1. From the depths of my dark heart, I really hope actually enjoyable episodes come up sooner than later, that you may again stumble across hidden gems like, say, Homerazzi was.

      2. I think A Totally Fun Thing and Dark Knight Court were hidden gems, but they were so well hidden that Mike missed them because of a few little problems. You know they are allowed to introduce us to new character traits of Bart and Mr. Burns without wrecking their characters. They are allowed to have feelings for something and not be a complete sociopath.

  5. I remember first finding out about this episode via a clip on Youtube. The thumbnail caught my interest since it was of the Tracey Ullman Show scene and I was curious how the modern show would recreate the look and thought they did a pretty fantastic job. Anyways, when I saw that clip I thought it was from a Treehouse of Horror segment and I was shocked to find out such a crazy story was actually the plot of a main episode. It goes to show just how detached from reality the series has gotten at this point.

    Speaking of Treehouse of Horror, the show does an even bigger Tracey Ullman show style bit in “Treehouse of Horror XXV”, but don’t get excited. It’s pretty underwhelming with a surprising lack of self referential humor there (but the characters are animated a bit rougher).

    By the way Mike, love the blog, long time reader, first time commenter. I was wondering, since you reviewed “The Simpsons Movie” and “The Simpsons Ride” as part of this blog will you also be reviewing the 2012 theatrical short “The Longest Daycare”?
    I personally consider it the only legitimate good thing the series has produced in the post-movie era.

  6. This episode’s title is rather disturbing when you think about it and just wait until you get to the season finale.

  7. Sounds like another piece of festering shit.

    It’s scary when I go to animation groups on Facebook and see people defend the crap out of modern day Simpsons, insisting it’s still the best thing on TV. It’s hilarious how the mediocrity of modern TV animation has lowered standards that far. I question someone’s taste in just about everything if they truly believe the Simpsons is still appointment television.


  8. Okay, I’ll say one thing for this episode, when Frink is talking about his machine and that he cured another Springfield resident of his obsession and we get “normal stu likes normal things!”

    yeah I know, one line in an episode of drek, but at this stage if the show can actually make me grin a little I’ll be relieved, and “normal stu” is at least a new twist on an old joke.

  9. Man, this episode is dumb! I’m not talking about the Inception parody that has too much exposition for Homer’s sentimental feelings about his mother leaving his father meaning anything; that would be redundant. I am talking about how dumb Mr. Burns was for not noticing Homer’s stolen office supplies right in front of him, and still believes Homer is a “moral lone star.” And we haven’t even got to the main plot of the episode yet! This is a huge nitpick in the beginning plot that’s just the booster rocket for the main plot. I know Mr. Burns is senile, but this is a new low for him.

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