515. The Day the Earth Stood Cool

Original airdate: December 9, 2012

The premise:
In an attempt to feel hip and young, Homer takes a shine to a trendy new family straight out of Portland, but as tensions between the two families and their parenting styles arise, Springfield finds itself over-run by pretentious hipsters.

The reaction: When did making fun of hipsters become passe? It’s hard to tell how much of a time capsule this episode is, or if the show was late to the party as usual. Portlandia premiered in January 2011, so that’s a close window, I guess. Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein appear as the cool parents, with Patton Oswalt playing their 10-year-old son (I love Oswalt, but this has got to be the most egregious child-with-a-grown-ass-adult’s voice we’ve seen on the show). The show is filled to the brim with hipster jokes: their behavior, their weird, eclectic tastes, loads of gags that mostly fall flat. The main narrative thrust is Homer’s desire to seem like a cool dad, a la “Homerpalooza,” except where there it was Homer encroaching into Bart and Lisa’s interests, Homer is just trying to emulate this Terrance guy completely separate from his kids. Bart and Lisa tagging along to the new hipster lifestyle is covered in, of course, a quick music montage. Ten seconds after that, Bart and Lisa are gushing about Korean film festivals and trendy art openings, so that’s covered! Things come to a head when the snide disaffected hipster youth T-Rex (that’s his name) takes one too many potshots at Homer being a poser and Bart attacks him, resulting in Terrance ex-communicating Homer. After the act break, we see Homer is fuming in anger at Bart, but is immediately diffused when he learns what actually happened. Then Marge expresses her longstanding grievances, and he’s even more sympathetic. I guess Homer just never bothered to ask them; he was too busy cramming himself into skinny jeans and wearing a scarf soaked in sweat. Then the hipsters invade Springfield, the two families work together to stop a fire, and then the hipsters leave when Springfield is voted the coolest town in America, ergo, making it uncool. Meh. This show’s left me pretty numb, but this one wasn’t entirely terrible. Some of Homer’s eagerness to seem cool again felt genuine, and Bart’s relationship with T-Rex over the course of the show I thought worked, with the latter’s hesitance toward actually indulging and being a kid for once was enjoyable at the end. But it was all surrounded by the usual dumb nonsense that the show is always want to do.

Three items of note:
– Marge’s problem with their new neighbors stems from her aversion toward the new mom openly breastfeeding. She’s clearly uncomfortable with all the weird hipster shit she doesn’t understand, but it never actually goes anywhere where she grows or takes anything away from it. In the end, Marge is exposed (not that way) in a nursing mother circle for using formula, and then the moms try to abduct Maggie and nurse her themselves. It’s a gag, but it all feels very weird, but I’m sure it was worth it for those wonderful boob puns the writers came up with for Marge to say (“Holy aureole!” “You nipple Nazis!”)
– Visiting the [insert last name here] family home for the first time, Marge is perplexed by The Onion newspaper on their coffee table. She reads a fake headline, thinks it’s real, then Cool Mom explains to her what The Onion is. It’s weird, it felt like a promo for a specific product wedged into the episode. The show also takes a swipe at The A.V. Club by showing their harsh movie reviews (The Wizard of Oz: D+, Citizen Kane: F), which I find very, very ironic, given how incredibly generous they’ve been in rating this show over the years; most of their ratings hover around the B-range, no matter how critical the actual review may be.
– The episode ends with the hipsters high-tailing it out of Springfield after it’s been declared the coolest city in America. It seemed a little strange considering that even before the hipster take-over, we see Homer, the kids, and Terrance indulge in a lot of cool events in the montage: rock shows, roller derby, Mexican wrestling… they even take a trip to Protozoa Records, a “parody” of Amoeba Records in Hollywood, another example of the never-ending LA-ification of Springfield. As we’ve seen, Springfield is no longer a run-down shitbucket of a town, now it’s full of trendy restaurants, nightclubs, outdoor promenades… why wouldn’t it be a cool, bustling place to live?

One good line/moment: Homer calling 911 to report a missing donut cart is the biggest moment in Chief Wiggum’s career; we immediately cut to the entire force on high alert, relentlessly scouring the city. It’s a really solid joke that I genuinely laughed at.

9 thoughts on “515. The Day the Earth Stood Cool

  1. Hipsters are weird, that’s it.

    I’m really curious for the next episode… (The Simpsons rip-off Jurassic Bark!).

    1. Bloody hell, really? Is nothing sacred to their mediocre crap? Now I feel the need for Futurama reviews… I really enjoyed the first two! Surprised frankly you’re able to find the heart for this but not for going through a great programme like that…

      1. Lol, I was also enjoying Futurama reviews… I hope he re-publishes sometime.

        And fuck Homer’s stupid dog.

    2. Oh maybe I remember it! Is it that awful shit of an episode full of saccharine contrived emotions, when we are supposed to care about Homer’s love for his old dog (after years of Santa’s Little Helper abusing)? And, worst of all, another fucking past episode when Abe is showed as a caring sympathetic father. Disgusting.

  2. According to Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein, this is one of their favorite modern episodes. Well, at least one of them said it on NoHomers when asked about their favorites. If only I could find the link.

  3. T-Rex isn’t a hipster name. Hipsters go with super old names that have been out of fashion since your great grandparents were young. Thaddeus or Hugo or Theodore or something.

  4. God this was another one I hated.
    Homer tries to be cool, but in the end hipsters are weirdd, people who believe in breast feeding are evil, and its better to enjoy happy meals and collect toys than you know, care about things?

    Back in classic era Simpsons we’d get a somewhat middle ground moral, just as we did in brush with greatness, where its accepted that one can be happy with certain aspects of consumer culture without embracing them hole sale, and interests outside the normal are okay so long as you don’t go nuts, but no here, different is weird, and knowing about art is weird, and knowing the history of things is weird!

    I admit I probably am more hostile to this episode than many because I was probably moderately like T rex as a child ( I have a more normal mane).
    I could happily discuss theology, destruction of the dinosaurs and Isaac asimov’s lores of robotics as they applied to Doctor who, I also rather enjoyed Heman and the Ninja turtles, so hay!

    Either way, horrible,horrible episode. Not worst ever (that still belongs to gaga), but still terrible!

  5. Remember when Patton Oswalt voiced Master Shake’s “son”? At least there he was actually trying to sound like a child.

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