549. What To Expect When Bart’s Expecting

Original airdate: April 27, 2014

The premise:
Bart uses a voodoo doll on his art teacher to get out of class, but is shocked when she arrives the next day announcing she’s pregnant. When word of his magical power of fertility spreads through town, he and Homer are taken to Fat Tony, who wishes to conceive a thoroughbred racehorse.

The reaction: Man, are they running out of story lines or something? Let’s just dive right in: Bart is agitated by her ultra-positive, free-wheeling art teacher (Willie acts as nude model for a bunch of children, don’t even want to touch that one), and wants to get rid of her because he hates art. He seems more mildly annoyed by it than anything, it all feels very flimsy. He then visits a racist stereotype and gets a voodoo doll from her, calling for the spirits to give her “aching tum,” and the next day, she shows up pregnant, which for some reason means that she can’t teach anymore. But that’s the last we see of her, which is fine, since she was never a real character anyway. For some reason, this playground gossip of Bart getting someone pregnant spreads through the town and grown adults buy into it, and soon Bart has couples from all over to bless with his magical nonsense. Boy, this sure is exciting, right? Halfway through, all of this started feeling a little familiar, and then when Fat Tony enters the picture, I realized that this was like a nonsensical version of “Faith Off” (well, more nonsensical), where for whatever reason he buys into Bart’s bullshit and relies on him to breed his horses. Left alone, Bart claims this is all Homer’s fault, that he should have been a stronger male role model for him. Oh, so this is a father-son episode now? It comes completely out of nowhere. Bart cites the opening scene where Homer passes out on the lawn after a pub crawl in his defense, but we never saw him react sad or disgusted by his father before then. But this doesn’t mean anything; the ending involves Homer and Bart getting two horses to fuck with a big musical number that only at the very end did I realize they were doing a take on Les Miserables. It’s absolutely dreadful, one of the worst songs they’ve ever done. The horse is pregnant, and then that’s it! Episode over. Empty conflict, empty resolution.

Three items of note:
– Bart gets the voodoo idea from Shauna, who he didn’t notice was standing right outside the school a few feet away from him. She’s shown up a handful of times since her inception, so I guess she’s a recurring character now. Oh boy. And she locks lips with Bart again! Remember how not skin-crawlingly creepy that was the first time around? They also reveal her to be Chalmers’ daughter, so I guess that’s something. I don’t know what that something is, but it’s something, alright.
– So, they want to make a joke that the racehorse is gay, so he wants no part in this impregnation plot. There’s so many possible gags they can do to communicate this point. So what do they do? The horse trots over to a stereo that for some reason is sitting in the corner, and dances to “It’s Raining Men.” Like… how on-the-nose can you possibly get? It’s so fucking bad. Even the animation is terrible in that scene; the horse has one leg down and it’s like he’s rotating on a turntable. And then in case you still don’t fucking get it, Homer walks in and says, “Y’know, I don’t think this guy likes girls.” YOU THINK?! The way this show is written now, it’s literally like they’re making for it for an audience who’s got the TV on in the background and is 15% paying attention.
– The very ending of the episode features a recreation of the Modern Family opening with different groups of characters appearing in picture frames. Sigh. Between this and the How I Met Your Mother bit in the Halloween show, this really is just sad. Beyond the fact that these are simply references and not parodies, it just feels so pathetic, this show desperately trying to plug in elements from more successful modern shows to feel like they’re more current. This series has been on life support forever, and any time they do something like this, it’s like they’re leeching a tiny bit of life blood off of a flavor-of-the-month. It’s just a bummer.

One good line/moment: Another guest directed couch gag, this time by Polish animator Michal Socha, featuring a red and black tinted nightmarish trip through Homer’s body. It’s so surreal and oddly beautiful, it’s probably my favorite outsourced couch gag so far. They should just do these every week.

19 thoughts on “549. What To Expect When Bart’s Expecting

    1. Writers, start thinking up ideas for a new hobby for Bart. Something along the lines of, say, voodoo.
      So, voodoo okay with everyone?

  1. Ugh. I so remember this episode and it was just awful. Not sure how any of this worked.

    ” it’s literally like they’re making for it for an audience who’s got the TV on in the background and is 15% paying attention.”

    To be fair, most people do this these days. They just sit there and play on their phones while the TV is on. I don’t get it.

      1. “They just sit there and play on their phones while the TV is on. I don’t get it.”
        If you’re not one of them, gotta be glad, that’s what I mean.

  2. Bart’s voice on the musical number is horrible, what happened to Nancy Cartwright (Springfield, Springfield)?

    Well, I really hope you enjoy the next episode…

    1. That’s the only episode of the last four seasons I tried to watch live, because I have a deep, spiritual love of Lego from my childhood. I don’t remember much, but I don’t think I got through the whole thing.
      If it turns out to be the one episode Mike thinks is great, I’ll try again.

      1. I don’t think he will because it was essentially a giant commercial.

        I do think that the Lego episode had actual effort put into it, regardless. Whether it was worth the effort is another matter entirely, but it was more than any other episode this whole season.

  3. Ugh, I remember hearing about this one. In fact it’s with this episode that I realized Troy McClure ended up predicting the future of the show at the end of “The Simpsons Spinoff Showcase.”

    Think about it, we have magic powers (this episode), wedding after wedding after wedding (too many Selma marriage episodes to count) and a tiny little alien named Ozmodiar that only Homer can see (just a cameo in “HOMR”, but I’m still counting it). All that’s missing is long lost triplets, which wouldn’t surprise me if it actually happened now since the show seems to be scrapping the bottom of the barrel for ideas.

    The couch gag was pretty cool, definitely one of the best guest ones. In fact I’m starting to think that instead of continuing to greenlight full seasons of the show, Fox should just focus completely on making couch gag shorts and put them online (maybe even have them as bumpers for their animation primetime block).

  4. This is one of those episodes that shocks you a bit in seeing how bad this show can get. One bad idea after another in this one.

  5. It’s not exactly long-lost triplets but Season 20: Double, Double, Boy in Trouble, the one where Bart swaps lives with his rich doppelganger is kinda like that.

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