555. Super Franchise Me

Original airdate: October 12, 2014

The premise:
In need of some extra income, Marge is talked into opening her own sandwich franchise, but soon finds she needs to employ the entire family to help tend to the restaurant to keep it afloat.

The reaction: Ah, the latest classic episode to be horribly rehashed, “The Twisted World of Marge Simpson,” where Marge starts up her own culinary business to hilarious results. Well, I guess just “results” in this case. We start with her making a bunch of sandwiches, Bart and Lisa take them to school to share with the other kids, then we’re at the playground where Marge is accosted by a sandwich shop franchiser to convince her to join her chain. Why are these two at the school? Where did this woman come from? Maybe they could have made her the parent of a kid who can’t stop talking about how much they love Marge’s food, but why try to write in any connective narrative tissue when you can just keep the plot barrelling forward. So Marge is boss of her own newly built Mother Hubbard’s Sandwich Shop, and she’s thrilled to have a domain to call her own. However, she immediately frets about the business floundering, and can’t find any employees better than Gil or… [shudder] Shauna, all of whom she fires. Soon, she ends up employing Homer and the kids to work the restaurant. Now… a couple things here. First, I guess we quickly dropped the angle of Marge cooing about the restaurant being all hers since now it’s a family affair. Second, the point of her wanting to go into business in the first place was to build up the family’s savings, and now I guess she’s perfectly fine with her husband skipping work to help her out. And force her children to work as well. Are they missing school? I guess so. More conflict arises when a second Mother Hubbard’s opens across the street, run by Cletus and his family, and steals all of Marge’s customers. We see an ad on TV about their signature roadkill hillbilly eats, so why wouldn’t it be the toast of the town? Why the hell would anyone eat there? And through all of this, there’s virtually no satire or commentary on franchise chains; there’s plenty to joke about corporations screwing their own franchise locations, or giving a blind eye to child labor laws, material like that, but they don’t even bother. Instead, the family pulls off a lamebrain scheme to the big boss to get out of their contract and return Marge’s initial investment, and it works like a charm! And nothing of value was lost! Or gained.

Three items of note:
– The plot kicks off when Ned takes back his giant freezer from Homer, who has been keeping a bunch of meat in it. To let it not go to waste, Marge ends up making a gigantic laundry basket full of sandwiches. So, where are all those going to be stored? Thankfully, Ned returns after that to return the freezer for no reason (“I felt a little guilty for taking back what belonged to me.”) I don’t think I’ve ever seen an instance where within the first act they retconned their own impetus for the plot beginning in the first place. Pretty wild stuff.
– There’s a helluva lot of time killing in this episode. We get two montages, the first of which is Homer pacing and waiting for Marge to make her sandwiches, where literally nothing happens for thirty seconds. We also have an end tag featuring caveman Homer slowly chasing a giant sloth, resulting in the first sandwich, because that’s an idea, I guess. But the more egregious padding to me is a joke from Homer, where he mentions how a free-refill policy on drinks resulted in him bankrupting a Pizza Hut. Alright, got it. But then we get a thought bubble and we see the scene where that’s happening, we see him at the drink dispenser and a manager behind him looking worried. Fifteen seconds of that. We already got the joke, but gotta rack up those precious seconds to get it to air time somehow.
– God, I hate Shauna. I fucking hate this character. She keeps coming back again and again and I just don’t understand it. Everyone in the cast is awful now, but she’s got to be one of the worst. And I was baffled with her and Gil, why Marge didn’t just hire the Pimply Faced Teen. But then, he randomly appears when she goes to fire Shauna, and then he quits in solidarity with her, thinking he’s got a chance to score with her. Oh, poor, sweet Pimply Faced Teen. You deserve so much better than that poorly written trollop.

One good line/moment: A good visual gag of the giant Mayo truck pulling up to the store, and the workers having the squeeze the tanker like it’s a bottle to pump the mayo out.

5 thoughts on “555. Super Franchise Me

  1. Well, at least the episode was not predictable and cliche. It could have been a war between the restaurants of Marge and Cletus.

  2. Besides “The Twisted World of Marge Simpson” this episode reminds me of a plot to a Simpsons comic story (which I can’t remember the name of) where Homer ends up in charge of a Krusty Burger only to be informed when it opens that it’s surrounded by three more Krusty Burgers. Homer tries to think of ways to make his restaurant better than the other Krusty Burgers but he’s informed that it’s against the rules to make one Krusty Burger better than the others. So he goes the opposite direction (as suggested by Bart if I remember correctly) and makes his Krusty Burger the worst (with the help of Lunch Lady Doris).

    I’ll have to look for that comic again, I remember that story being pretty funny.

  3. All this episode made me think of was the one where Marge opened up her pretzel business.

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