575. Every Man’s Dream

Original airdate: September 27, 2015

The premise:
Homer’s recent bout with narcolepsy proves to be the last straw for Marge, causing them to legally separate. He then ends up dating a twenty-something pharmacist, voiced by cancerous polyp Lena Dunham.

The reaction: At this point, I feel like I would really love to see a really serious episode where Homer and Marge get divorced. I mean, why not, at this point. I remember they drummed up news coverage for this premiere, crowing about how the two were going to split up, for real, we swear, guys! Come on. It was almost embarrassing to see, like who’s falling for these cheap gimmicks anymore? So what causes this seemingly unbreakable couple to finally call it quits after twenty-six years? We see them in therapy after Homer didn’t get his medication for his narcolepsy because the line was too long. We don’t see how this medical condition is negatively affecting Marge, or anything else other than Homer’s normal annoying behavior. In perhaps the greatest example of characters just saying things to move the plot along, the therapist recommends that they separate, and Marge follows her words to the letter (“Kids, a professional felt the best way for your father and me to work on our relationship was to give up on it.”) Someone told her to do something, and she did it! And then repeated it! So Homer ends up going on a drug trip with a young attractive pharmacist named Candace, who for whatever stupid reason is interested in this old tub of lard. At this point, I have no idea where this show is going and how it’s going to resolve itself by the end. But then Homer goes to dinner to meet Candace’s father, only to find out he’s invited the new woman in his life: Marge. As fucking dumb as all of this had been so far, I at least could see how this could pan out: father and daughter immediately begin arguing, and Marge would see what a hassle all of this is, and realize she’s content to go with what she knows, and that’s being with Homer. Quick and dirty, get out, episode over. But no, turns out that everything we’ve seen over the last twelve minutes or so has just been a dream Homer had while passed out at the therapist. He resolves he’ll clean up his act, and over the coming month, he does. But it turns out all that was just a dream too. And then that itself was all a dream Marge had, and then that was all just a tattoo on the back of Dunham’s Girls character. Woof. This could have potentially been interesting if they had worked in earlier that Homer’s narcolepsy was causing him to lose time and become more and more disoriented, but there wasn’t even the slightest attempt to do anything like that here. They didn’t want to bother writing an ending, so they gave us this great big wank. It’s like a big slap in the face for anyone stupid enough to think they were really going to stay separated, and a second slap for anyone foolish enough to still be watching this nonsense. I guess that includes me, doesn’t it? Sigh.

Three items of note:
– As all one-off characters are in the last decade-plus, Candace has no discernible personality, and this is especially damning considering this is the girl that’s making Homer forget about the love of his life (although it changes from scene to scene whether he’s still pining for Marge or he’s completely moved on). Their relationship begins when she just says it does (“Are you asking me out? I mean, you’re not, but it looks like you’d be fun to hang with, and I’m pretty fascinating myself, I’m an author.”) But it really doesn’t matter. As evidenced by the cop out dreams-within-dreams ending, the writers had really no intention to make this a believable story that makes sense. As I mentioned at the start, it’s just a flashy gimmick episode where they managed to generate some minor press for the new season. The only woman that strayed Homer’s eye before was Mindy Simmons, a woman seemingly tailor-made for him that he cursed fate for placing before him. Would it have been too much to ask for Candace and Homer to bond over just one shared interest? Anything whatsoever? I guess so. We also get cameos from Dunham’s Girls co-stars, who all get a line each. They’re also joined by gay stereotype Julio, because he’s a catty gay guy who loves gossip and drama (those crazy gays, amirite?)
– The second act opens with a sad montage of Homer now living at the power plant, where we follow him at night looking forlorn and depressed, complete with somber music. Cut to morning, Homer happily hums walking out of the shower and is pleased as punch walking to his work console. Lenny and Carl comment on his sudden mood change, to which Homer responds, “Oh, you guys missed a very sad montage.” Again, more proof that the writers didn’t care about making any of this serious or meaningful at all.
– More bits of fan service with Candace’s tattoos and hallucinations in the drug trip montage: Smilin’ Joe Fission, Mr. Sparkle, Space Coyote, and the creepy clown bed make repeat appearances. From the modern era, we also have Plopper, the Grumple and Fatov, that little Homer Olympic mascot. Which grouping sounds more fun to hang out with?

One good line/moment: The only explanation we’re given why Candace likes Homer is that he reminds her of a childhood snowman, which is one of many guesses that her friends throws at her. But Homer’s response to this is kind of cute (“Man, I would love to get back into snowman shape. Can’t even fit in my scarf anymore.”)

21 thoughts on “575. Every Man’s Dream

  1. This was hands down the worst season premier of the entire franchise and almost as much of an insult to the characters as “Homer’s Paternity Coot.” Only thing that makes this better is that it was a dream.

    1. If it were the other episode, yes, but after a DECADE plus of seeing this side of Homer, seeing actually get divorced, only to pull the “North” ending on us, it’s not only bad, it’s deliberately insulting.

    2. Honestly, I’d say this is a major contender for the worst episode of all time. I’m probably a lot more forgiving towards modern Simpsons than most people, but even I thought this episode was complete trash. The overall basis for the plot was a stupid ratings gimmick, and their way of getting out of writing a real ending was just as bad. I’m not even against occasionally using cop-out or ridiculous endings (whether it’s “They were rescue by, oh, let’s say, Moe” or Skinner being stuck under a giant stack of newspapapers), but this one just wasn’t funny. And neither was any other part of the episode. I just remember feeling a strong mix of annoyance and boredom in this episode.

      1. Once he plows through the last two seasons produced to date, I’d love to see Mike make a bottom 10 list and see what’s chosen as the Worst Episode Ever. I basically stopped watching the show at Season 20, and most of my contenders reside in the late teens–would those episodes even make a bottom 20 with everything awful that came after?

      2. Jacsmalls, I would still put the Tomacco episode, Homer’s Paternity Coot, and the one with the horse jockeys in my top 10 worst list. Granted, most probably would be from seasons 24- this episode, but those three would definitely be on it.

      3. What amazes me is that was one of the only episodes I had watched with the commentary track on, as I wanted to hear them talk about what went wrong with the episode and they didn’t say a single negative thing about it. Infact, they barely talked about all during the episode.

  2. So they’ve essentially become the very thing they lampooned way back in Who Shot Mr Burns? (well, actually much worse at this point)

    I don’t know why they keep attempting to do “serious” episodes at this point. Any new character or guest character almost always falls flat and has zero development. Sometimes they can pull through with the main cast, but it is very rare.

    Going the jockey elves route might have been an improvement though i doubt anything could have saved this mess after the second act.

    1. Normally, I don’t have a problem with The Simpsons becoming certain endings they would have lampooned earlier in There Will Be Buds and Werking Mom, but Every Man’s Dream is an exception because the episode was already bad before that point. Also, I am tired of people who keep bashing The Simpsons for not lampooning something you would expect them to lampoon, like the cruise in A Totally Fun Thing Bart Will Never Do Again. I see no problem with The Simpsons not subverting Bart’s enjoyment of the cruise, or else there would be no story where he wants to keep it going forever.

  3. David Cohen pitched an idea called “Homer the Narcoleptic” back in the Oakley/Weinstein era. I don’t think this is what he had in mind.

  4. While this episode is my least favorite episode of all, 27 is my favorite HD season.

    Luckily I didn’t give up watching The Simpsons after seeing these 22 minutes of bad and nonsensical plot, out-of-character moments, bad jokes (the Burns and Smithers joke to mind), pointless guest stars and an insulting ending.

    The next three episodes are great (Especially…).

  5. I haven’t seen this episode, and don’t really have a desire to see it, but The Simpons really went for the “it was just a dream” ending? The same sort of ending that The Simpsons would’ve happily lampooned 20+ years ago? Wow. Fuck this show.

    I’m kinda glad you’re torturing yourself through this, because it makes me more set on me not watching Zombie Simpsons.

  6. I remember when this was announced and the entire Internet collectively lost its shit. People were furious that the writers were splitting Homer and Marge up, even if they hadn’t watched the show in years – these two were made for each other, how could you do this? So the show had to cobble together a quick two minute short for YouTube a few months before the episode aired, in which Homer and Marge assure the viewing public that, no, they are not actually splitting up, it’s not a permanent change, and everything will go back to normal by episode’s end.

    Thereby completely nullifying whatever cheap manipulative emotional drama the writers were hoping to wring out of this hacky excuse for a season premiere. Now that you’ve revealed that your gimmick was pointless, there’s no need for anyone to watch it. The Simpsons has failed so badly at being a television show, it can’t even do a cheap ratings stunt right anymore.

  7. The best thing about this episode is the great cover of “What a Wonderful World” by The Clarks that plays in the end credits. I could see them using that song at the end of a 2000s movie or another Simpsons movie. It’s really a shame that it was tied to this piece of crap.

    Also, Homer using narcolepsy as an excuse not to do anything was pretty funny, especially when he didn’t want to go to the pharmacy.

      1. I had the same question, so I Googled her and the first hit was about her molesting her sister, so that probably tells you something. You miss out on things like if you’re not plugged into modern American entertainment.

      2. I have not seen a single thing Lena Dunham has been in (if you don’t count her guest spots on The Tonight Show). So you’re not alone.

  8. This is the worst episode I’ve seen from this show, and possibly the worst product I’ve seen from Fox in general. Compare this to something like Futurama’s “The Sting”, which used their dream ending in a decent way, revealing how Leela’s dreams of seeing Fry and his asking for her to wake up being Fry telling her so in HER comatose state. That was believable, and above all, actually emotional. Hell, SPONGEBOB did this ending better with “Doing Time”, having it all be Ms. Puff’s dreams to the point where she just rolls with it at the end (“AAHAHAHA-huh? Aw, just forget it.”)

    By comparison, it’s just as bad and audience insulting as the “Teen Titans Go” episode “The Return of Slade” (“FOUR EPISODES AND A MADE-FOR-TV MOVIE LATER”), if not a bit more, because we’re supposed to take this shut SERIOUSLY.

    This episode IS the worst I’ve ever seen, and it’s no fucking contest. When I saw the ending, I genuinely wanted to punch my TV. This is the first time I ever felt betrayed as a fan, and as I stopped watching with the penultimate episode of the season, served to be the beginning of the end for my watching of new episodes.

  9. Having just rewatched this episode, I still think Manatees is worse than it, but it is pretty damn close.

    First off, Marge finally decides she has had enough because Homer has a freaking medical condition? That is horrible! That’s like divorcing your wife because you find out she has epilepsy.

    Secondly, the ending makes no fucking sense. Not just the dream within a dream within a dream within a dream part, but the last scene of some random ass girl with a tatoo on her back. I don’t get it. Who the hell is this lady and what does she have to do with the story?

    Third, there is not a single funny joke to be had at all. It’s pretty boring.

    Fourth, seriously, why does a girl half his age want Homer? That doesn’t make any sense either.

    Lastly, why does the animation look so liveless?

  10. You can tell that whoever wrote this episode REALLY wanted to end The Simpsons by bringing out the worst in Homer. Unfortunately, that person’s attempt to end The Simpsons completely failed.

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