631. 3 Scenes Plus A Tag From A Marriage

Original airdate: March 25, 2018

The premise:
Driving by their first apartment, Homer and Marge reminisce about their fun childless days, and how the birth of Bart shook up their carefree lifestyles.

The reaction:¬†Wherein the show retreads ground already covered twenty-six years ago, and Simpson family history is reimagined once again! “I Married Marge” painted a wonderful picture of Homer and Marge’s post-high school days, whose immature young adult lovebird bliss is interrupted by an unexpected pregnancy, ultimately leading to Homer forcing himself to man up and push for a job he hates to support the woman he loves and his unborn child. It’s a picture perfect story that not only is absolutely hilarious and charming in and of itself, but speaks volumes on who Homer and Marge are as characters, displaying a pivotal point in their relationship. This episode takes place during the same time frame, changing a few variables, and, of course, adding absolutely nothing of value. Now Homer and Marge are plucky early twenties go-getters, with Marge writing for the local paper and Homer plugged into some successful teeth whitening business thanks to the boss who keeps him around because he inexplicably likes him (“It’s like I know you’re not listening to me, but I know I’m not mad at you!” his boss laughs). Among a crowd of entirely familiar faces (the likes of Sideshow Bob, Smithers, Dr. Nick and Lunchlady Doris are all seen at their house party. Wonder how they all met?), Homer and Marge stay out late, hit the roller rink, make out at midnight movies… but all that ends when we smash cut to a year later and Bart is born. Their professional lives fall apart , but thanks to a tape Reverend Lovejoy shows them about how only children are evil, Homer and Marge find the answer: one baby is hard, but two is better! There’s barely any plot to hang onto, so I really don’t know how we got here. Homer and Marge both lost their jobs, so they decide to have another baby? The ending shows how when Lisa was born, all their problems were apparently solved (“Bart became the calmest boy in the whole world!” Marge boasts as we see two-year-old Bart inexplicably stab his father with an IV). So… what am I supposed to make of this ending? The framing device features Homer and Marge telling this story to the current tenants of their old first apartment, a hipster couple on the fence about having kids. By the end of the story, the wife is already downstairs about to get on a bus out of town (“I never want to be stuck with people like you who stunt each other’s growth with their random dysfunction!”) The Simpson family puts on phony grins to con the wife into thinking everything’s okay, mollifying the wife. Homer and Marge wax nostalgic on their child-free days, and we end on them openly admitting they’re pretending to be happy in front of their children. As they drive home, Marge summarizes, “We may not be ethical, but we make a great team!” Does that sound like a Marge line to you? And this is following her being upset at Homer alluding to their marriage being awful (when the hipster couple reunites, Homer crows that they’ve saved two bad marriages). Not only is this show seemingly anti-having kids, but it paints being in a relationship as soul-crushing and miserable (“The only way humanity survives is if people perpetuate this lie!”) Old flashback shows showed our favorite family mistep and fail, but their love for each other was always their guiding compass to the right choices. Here, it’s just a bunch of random pointless shit that leaves you confused and with a bad taste in your mouth.

Three items of note:
– I honestly don’t understand Homer being at the Flashmouth company. His boss seemingly didn’t seem to care that he doesn’t do shit, and tells him that Homer will get a piece of the company’s success just because. In the past, we’ve seen Homer living the dream working at the mini golf course and at Barney’s Bowl-O-Rama, menial nothing jobs that he excels at and takes pride in. Here, he’s just some lazy goofball who lucked into glomming onto an actual smart, ambitious person. Later, Homer walks into his office with Baby Bart, who’s shocked to see his beloved employee has a son (“A kid indicates you took time away from me to conceive. It’s like a virus that starts spreading, and suddenly everyone’s getting married when they should be working!”) Does he know about Marge? Moreover, are Homer and Marge even married in this flashback? I assumed so, but this line seems to imply he’d be just as cross knowing Homer is married as well as having a kid. What is going on? First he doesn’t seem to give two fucks that Homer does nothing, now he’s mad he’s not working? Maybe that his semblance of a family life will distract the people doing real work at the company getting it off the ground? There’s also a weird co-dependency vibe coming from him talking about taking time away from him personally. I really don’t fucking understand this character. In the present, the kids convince Homer to give his old buddy a call, who proceeds to hang up on him as he’s taking his elevator to the top floor of his building. Which extends all the way up into space. Yeah, I don’t get it either.
– Baby Bart fluctuates between being an infant sadist (puncturing Kirk’s hand with a toothpick and pouring salt into the wound) and being an unsupervised rambunctious kid (attempting to skateboard over sleeping kids at not-Gymboree while all the employees hang out in the back room). Marge’s journalist career ends thanks to Bart destroying an art piece, but as Homer and Marge have an argument about who’s watching the kid, Bart escapes his car seat, tampers with another art piece to create a slingshot, waddles over to the other side of the gallery to get a button to use as ammo, then shoots and pops the central inflatable art installation. Ultimately, Homer and Marge lose their jobs because of Bart, but really in this case, it’s completely their fault for not watching the kid. It’s not even worth comparing this portrayal to Baby Bart in “Lisa’s First Word,” a completely believable depiction of a noisy, intolerable toddler that’s driving Homer and Marge (mostly Homer) up the wall.
– Dr. Hibbert shows up at the very end dressed as Prince from¬†Purple Rain, but it doesn’t make any sense given the show’s shifting timeline. At this point, Lisa would have been born in 2010. The joke with Hibbert is that he’s sporting a relevant black haircut at the time. Also he’s literally dressed like Prince, not a doctor. Is he cosplaying or something?

One good line/moment: There may have been one or two adequate lines, but I don’t remember them. This one was just a real cynical shit show.

630. Homer Is Where The Art Isn’t

(why does her boob look flattened in this shot?)
Original airdate:
March 18, 2018

The premise:
After a provocative work of art is stolen after being auctioned, ’70s P.I. pastiche Manacek is on the case, zeroing in on a number one suspect: newly won over art lover Homer Simpson.

The reaction: Who is the target audience of this show? I honestly don’t know what the numbers are at this point, but lately, whenever the show does an extended parody or obscure reference of something decades old, it feels so bizarre to me. This is taken to the hilt in this episode, a full blown parody of ’70s detective shows, with Bill Hader playing the smooth talking, womanizing, quick-comeback-having private dick Manacek. Now, I’m pushing thirty, and I have no familiarity with this source material outside of parodies like this, so I guess this episode is really shooting for the over fifty crowd or film buffs knowledgeable about whatever the hell this is supposed to be. Doing some research, this character is apparently a direct lift from the 1972 show Banacek, which I guess I shouldn’t be surprised it’s another shitty “parody” where they just change one letter of the actual name and call it a day. I understand Manacek as a character, but his schtick grows old real fast. The entire episode is framed as a mystery, with a cold open at the auction where we see Homer being dragged off by guards as he’s wailing over his beloved painting. Then we get a fake opening for Manacek as he talks with the auctioneer, then with the beautiful billionaire mogul who won the auction. I guess they expect the audience to be curious about what’s going on and where this is all going, but I was just left baffled. None of what happens is particularly interesting, and certainly isn’t funny. The meat of the story is finding out Homer’s backstory: chaperoning a field trip, Homer finds himself enraptured by a painting, Joan Miro’s surrealist painting The Poetess. That’s about it. Lisa helps him understand how abstract art can be representative of whatever the viewer wants, but ultimately, Homer just loves the painting just ’cause. There’s no deeper meaning to it, and the fact that there isn’t meaning and his love for the piece is inexplicable also isn’t the point. Appearing guilty, Homer goes on the run, but Manacek easily tracks him down and determines he’s not a viable suspect because he’s too stupid. Really diffuses the tension, doesn’t it? Ultimately, Lisa is revealed to be the true culprit, swapping the real painting for the one on her tote bag, finally pleased to have something to bond with her father with. So why not buy an art print? Why does it have to be the original? Whatever. I guess I appreciate them attempting to do something different, but this episode was so fucking boring. A bunch of new uninteresting characters having their own little story as the Simpsons just sort of stand around and watch it unfold. Riveting.

Three items of note:
– You can just tell the writers love this episode, and the source material they’re lampooning, but honestly, I just don’t get it. Maybe this is funny to people who really love those old shows. There’s a few bits here I don’t really get (in the opening, it takes him forever to walk into a building or drive up a driveway as his theme song plays. Is that a joke?) But his jokes basically boil down to having a witty rebuttal to things people say to him, and him trying to pick up Marge. That’s it. And Bill Hader does an alright job voicing him, but I wasn’t blown away by his performance or anything. I thought he was better as that Russian guy a bunch of seasons back.
– Discovering the art museum is set to close, Homer joins a group of protesters outside the building to attempt to save it. Mayor Quimby shows up to try and placate them, pointing out museum attendance was close to zero. So… who are all these people? When Quimby informs them they’re going to sell the artwork at auction, protester Sideshow Mel seems content with that explanation, swaying the mob to their next “cause.” Are they trying to make them like protesters for the sake of protesting? I really don’t understand. But Springfieldians gathering in mass to save an art museum just did not compute to me. Same with the billionaire lady’s gorgeous mansion, why is she in Springfield?
– By the end, Manacek has gathered everyone together, and I’m just waiting for this shit to be over already. “After careful consideration of facts and evidence observed only by me…” He then weaves a complicated and ridiculous farce of how the billionaire lady stole her own painting with twin guards, then that was all for naught because Burns created a duplicate neighboring auction house to steal the painting for himself. Now, is this absurd, impossible explanation the kind of thing those old 70s shows were famous for? Or are we supposed to laugh at how silly all of this is? Preposterous, convoluted explanations to mysteries that the hero detective solved purely by magic? What is this, Sherlock? [laugh track]

One good line/moment: Manacek cold cocking billionaire lady in the face after she pulls a gun on her was sudden and unexpected it got a surprise laugh out of me. Then he does the exact same thing to Burns a minute later, and the moment became not so special.