687. Now Museum, Now You Don’t

Original airdate: October 11, 2020

The premise: Lisa stays home from school sick and tells some stories about famous artists: herself as Leonardo da Vinci, Bart as an unspecific French impressionist, and Marge and Homer as Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.

The reaction: Oh jeez, two of these in a row? Seriously, these fantasy episodes are so boring to watch, I barely even have anything else to say about them. Treehouse of Horrors, at least in the classic era, felt like exceptions because the stories mostly took place in the “real world” of the show as horrific elements befell the characters. I asked last week, but seriously, does anybody like these episodes? Even looking at No Homers this morning, most of those diehard fans are giving it low scores. Hell, I don’t like it when any show does this fantasy episode shit. Futurama‘s “Naturama.” It’s Always Sunny‘s “The Gang Cracks the Liberty Bell.” They’re always my least favorite; I watch the show I’m watching because I like these characters in this setting, so when you change that, I don’t care as much. I mean, if they were to tell these stories about famous historical or fictional people, maybe it could be engaging, but that’s never the case. Act one has Lisanardo being very talented and sad. In act two, Bart leads an impressionist movement, and then the king likes his paintings. Act three has Homer/Diego and Marge/Frida more or less just straight retelling the story behind Rivera’s “Man at the Crossroads” commissioned mural at Rockefeller Plaza. Being an art major, this all should be appealing to me, but it just doesn’t at all. It’s not taking these historical events and retelling them in unique or satirical ways, it just feels like an excuse to draw the characters in different costumes and give the other artists more work to do. Futurama‘s “The Duh-Vinci Code” featured a twist explaining da Vinci’s genius: he was actually a refugee from an alien world, but upon returning there, we see that he was actually one of the dumbest of his extremely advanced species. It was a unique episode, and also felt natural within universe, as the premise is driven by Professor Farnsworth idolizing da Vinci as a great inventor. These episodes just suck. S’all I can say about it.

Two items of note:
– This episode features our next re-casted POC character: one line from Eric Lopez as the new Bumblebee Man. He doesn’t really sound much like Hank Azaria, but it really doesn’t matter. When was the last time Bumblebee Man had a line? On the Simpsons wiki, he’s made relatively sporadic appearances over the last decade, but I don’t know if they list appearances based on if the character actually speaks, or if they just make a silent cameo in a crowd or something. The only actually notable characters left to be dealt with are Apu, Dr. Hibbert, Lou the cop, and maybe Drederick Tatum, all of the others barely show up anymore and don’t really matter. Also, specifically about Bumblebee Man, why does he even still exist in 2020? The character was born out of one of the writers randomly coming upon a Mexican comedy show featuring a man in a red grasshopper suit, so they replicated it with Homer doing the same. Back in the early 90s, if you flipped your TV up to like channel 79, you could just watch Spanish television and be fascinated by “weird” shows like that. But in 2020, when nobody channel surfs and just watches streaming services, and with El Chapulín Colorado long removed from the air waves, what is Bumblebee Man supposed to represent on the show anymore?
– Marge/Frida mentions that a young man named Bernie Sanders has recently been born who will champion socialism, which is followed by a scene of baby Bernie vouching for free cootie shots on the playground, under the threat of his “Bernie Babies” bullies, who just beat another kid up for no reason (“I disavow that, and welcome it!”) Now, a couple things with this. First, Diego Rivera’s Rockefeller Plaza commission was in the early 1930s, and Bernie Sanders was born in 1941, so the timeline doesn’t even come close to lining up. Second, this gag clearly feels like it was written a year ago when Bernie was the frontrunner leading up the primaries, so seeing this joke three weeks before the Trump/Biden election feels like another example of the show being woefully too late in making cultural references. And finally, it’s just a shitty gag. There’s plenty you can poke fun at Bernie about, but a Bernie Bros joke? Seriously? It also feels especially tone-deaf now to joke about someone demanding free healthcare when we’re still living in a pandemic with 200k Americans dead. But don’t worry, the majority of the show’s writers and producers have been working this cushy job for over a decade, and I’m sure they’ve never had any serious worries about their healthcare.

25 thoughts on “687. Now Museum, Now You Don’t

  1. I look forward to the day when the ratings for The Simpsons dip below 1 million. Not because I hate the show, but maybe Disney/Fox will get a wake up call and put this zombie out of its misery.

    1. According to prelims, Family Guy rather easily defeated The Simpsons this time around (1.44m vs 1.29m). It’s a start, and indeed, the figures are dangerously creeping towards “hundreds of thousands” territory.

      Although, of course, everybody streams these days rather than watch television. Perhaps FOX/Disney is relying more on people streaming the show on Disney+ or Hulu rather than watching on TV.

  2. How come Lisa only sounds sick in the very beginning when talking to Marge, but is well enough to narrate and sing as Lisanardo? This was just boring, had some decent background details but that’s it for praise I can offer.

    1. Quite a few episodes last season got negative reviews on No Homers. Better off Ned, Warrin’ Priests, Go Big or Go Homer, Marge the Lumberjill, and THOH XXX come to mind. It’s not like everyone at No Homer’s is mindlessly ass kissing the show. A lot of us just take it for what it is and enjoy the good episodes, which I find to be quite a few these last few seasons.

      1. My apologies, I never meant to paint No Homers as a mindless hive mind. It’s just interesting to me when there are episodes that even the devoted fans who are still willingly and hopefully watching this show just flat-out dislike.

      2. Yeah, I get that. I was more directing it to the guy who made that ‘you know an episode’s bad when even no homers dislikes it’, because he was directly insinuating that people on the site were just mindlessly paying lip service to the show with very little objectivity. I find it to be a very immature way to handle disagreement. I disagree with you all the time, but I still read your blog because you have interesting things to say and I find value on both sides of the spectrum. I guess some people don’t see it that way.

      3. I kind of agree with you. There have been a number of episodes that have been poorly received at NoHomers. They’re not mindless zombies praising every single episode.
        But the Simpsons SubReddit, that’s a different story. Even the worst episodes imaginable get heaps of praise and people just quoting things from the episode that wasn’t even funny.

  3. Uhhh, I like how this episode aired on the 30th anniversary of “Bart Gets an F”

    …yeah, that’s pretty much all I can say. End, Zombie Simpsons, end!

      1. Why? If you don’t find it to be of quality, don’t watch it… or continue watching it and insulting it. Those are your options. Why do you want it cancelled? Do you simply want those of us who enjoy the show not to be able to watch it? I don’t like a lot of shows, but I don’t want them cancelled if people still enjoy them.

      2. Uh no. I said don’t watch it OR continue watching it and insulting it which is what Mike does. I don’t understand the bitter spite that people like you have towards this show and it’s fans. I understand not liking it, but this is just sad. Proving yet again that The Simpsons has the most toxic fan base of any show. I don’t see the fans of other shows spitefully hate watching whilst hoping for cancellation. Mike legitimately watches the show and doesn’t like it, it seems like people like you have decided ahead of time that it’s gonna suck. You’re clearly not open to liking the show, where as Mike is.

  4. I’m actually dumbfounded that they put two of these in a row. I thought season 17 was bad having two in the one season but at least they had the decency to spread them out. WHO ARE THESE EPISODES FOR!? When everything was going batshit crazy during the Scully years, the two anthology episodes have always been my least favourite because they bored me to tears and I think being boring is the worst sin in entertainment. Then again, since all HD era Simpsons is like watching white noise, these fit in rather nicely and may actually be slightly better as the dialogue isn’t quite as agonising as regular episodes. Still, complete waste of time.

    1. I’d like to make it very clear that ‘I, Carumbus’ isn’t an anthology, it’s a singular story depicted at different junctures. As for who they’re for… I don’t know. I think ‘I, Carumbus’ was great and I at least consider ‘The Serfsons’ to be an enjoyably ambitious failure, but I find most of the actual anthologies to be very dull, this one’s no exception. I actually think this is the worst anthology because at least the others bothered to convey coherent stories even if they were bad, this is just awful.

  5. Super lame episode.
    Plus, on the one hand the show has finally stopped using white actors to voice non-white characters. On the other hand, though, this episode makes fun of Italian and French accents. This shows how the change in “voicing policy” is contrived, and imposed by a new general sensitivity that the authors of the show don’t really have.
    Plus, ha ha ha, accents are funny! Seriously, what do they think their audience is? Fourth graders? Not to count the fact that in the episode, some characters speak with an accent, and others don’t. So sloppy…

  6. Admittedly, there are shows like El Chavo del Ocho, which ended in 1980, but STILL has reruns EVERY MORNING on Spanish channel UniMás. But 1) that has the excuse of being, like El Chapulin Colorado, still extremely popular among Spanish audiences, to the point that it has an animated spinoff, and 2) that still doesn’t excuse the pointlessness of Bumblebee Man- there’s a REASON he’s been mainly a cameo character then and now.

  7. Oh, wow. The writers actually went there with Bernie Sanders. That certainly isn’t going to age your show immediately and make it a decrepit relic upon release. On a side note, and I don’t want to wander off this thread into weird places, but America often misses the point with health care. Other countries got their act together decades ago through a willingness to pay for it and an incentive to minimize the need to use it with fitness programs and casual shaming of the lazy; both of which Americans aren’t so keen on (our country was largely formed out of not wanting to pay for things, and being one of the least healthy developed countries on Earth, we would absolutely overwhelm any European-type system given that we put the “fat” in “fat, Southern sheriffs”). Doesn’t help that American politics, which are historically more conservative than other nations, are more divided than ever, and any plan would likely have to be passed by a majority as opposed to bipartisanship which would be butchered or abolished by the opposition the moment they got the majority.

    Can’t mean we must forever be denied from having good health care. It just means we need to have that long and frank discussion about what we must do to get it, and as America has largely had a history of going “LALALALALA I am not listening!” to unpleasant topics… that’s not gonna happen.

    On a less somber note, the show desperately needs to stop doing current events-based humor and just go back to attempting generalized stuff. I am fully aware their counterargument is “Well, if we bring it up, it comes back to the debate”… yeah, but most conversations about your show is about how damn old the show is.

    Also doesn’t help that “trilogy” episodes are among the least popular in series history and seem to be more or less the writers and animators smelling their own farts as opposed to working hard. The only segment I bothered to look at was Frida/Diego as I was in down time during a Twitch stream, and you could’ve just had it as any other “Homer is an insensitive lout” storyline. Did not help that he pretty much was ignorant to any suggestions Marge/Frida made until the very end when he supported the idea of having Lenin on a capitalist’s commission due to reasons and the conflict ends with Rockefeller/Burns somehow killing himself by accident.

  8. This recasting of minority characters is ridiculous. I understand wanting to change Apu’s voice, but nobody ever had a problem with Carl or Dr. Hibbert being voiced by white guys. There’s nothing stereotypical about their voices at all. Next thing you know, they’re going to go back to the older episodes and dub them over with the new actors.

  9. I’m surprised Bumblebee Man of all people was recast. Given that he was a minor character even during the classic era, I would have put money on him being one of those characters who quietly disappeared. In addition to the characters you mentioned, there’s also Judge Snyder and Cookie Kwan I could think of. Then again, neither of them are essential, Snyder can be replaced by Judge Harm or just not have courtroom scenes any more, and Cookie Kwan serves more or less the same role as Lindsay Naegle.

    I also don’t think Apu will be recast, since he was already tainted by the Problem With Apu debacle even before the whole controversy over non-white cartoon characters being voiced by white actors started. Assuming Apu’s gone for good, there’s also no reason for Manjula, the octuplets or Sanjay to ever appear again without him. It is a shame for Apu since he’s been one of the most prominent non-Simpson characters and he deserves a proper farewell, but he isn’t going to get one because they can’t have Hank Azaria voice him, and there’s no point recasting for one episode that ends with Apu being written out and/or killed off.

  10. Hey, does anyone know what is going on with the Halloween episode? I haven’t paid attention to this season yet, but the THoH episode is not on my DVR nor is it showing up On Demand, but Comcast doesn’t even have it listed as airing soon.

    1. Thanks to baseball season running long, it got pushed to November 1st, but it already aired on Sunday in Canada and other territories. I actually already watched it and wrote my review, but I’m not gonna post it until it airs in America.

      1. That’s annoying. For one thing, there’s always baseball at this time of year, which is why they started to air the Halloween episodes a week or two before Halloween.

        Secondly, Comcast says the next new episode is a Season 16 episode (7 Beer Itch).

        Well thanks for the info. Maybe I’ll see if I can find it and the Bob’s Burgers episode on Piratebay since I would like to watch them BEFORE Halloween. I might not even bother with THoH if it’s after.

      2. “The 7 Beer Itch” is the next new episode. You’re thinking of “The Seven-Beer Snitch.” Thinking up new titles for them is hard, I guess.

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