716. A Made Maggie

Original airdate: December 19, 2021

The premise: Fearing for her youngest child’s unbaptized soul, Marge demands Homer find Maggie a godfather, and he does, in the form of Fat Tony. Marge is incredibly hesitant, but it seems like Tony has turned over a new leaf thanks to caring for the baby, leading to his associates to plan on rubbing him off for going soft.

The reaction: In regards to our secondary cast, Fat Tony is a character that has been completely tapped. Back in his 1991 debut, it was novel to have an animated sitcom do an extended mafia parody, with Goodfellas being a new rich vein to tap into for comedy, as well as paying tribute to classics like The Godfather. But here we are thirty years later. As with everybody on this show, nobody has grown or evolved, so Fat Tony and his crew are stuck cycling through the same tired jokes we’ve seen them, and other mafia parodies, do for years, decades even. I especially noticed this in season 31’s “The Fat Blue Line,” the last major Fat Tony episode, and it was just as clear to me now. Fat Tony takes Maggie to a “Guido and Me” class. Offended by his subordinates’ language, Tony reacts, “Do you give the kiss of death with that mouth?” He orders Legs and Louie to “take care” of a dirty diaper, so they bury it near the coast after chaining it to a cement block. All of this is such stale shit. One joke involves Fat Tony never having seen The Godfather, but has seen Shark Tale and Analyze This, two mafia parody movies that are twenty years old at this point. The earth has been salted with this softball stuff; if you want to do mob schtick, you need to up your game and come up with a new way to do it. But, par for the course with this show, the old standards are good enough. Marge isn’t pleased with Tony assuming the role as godfather, but decides to stick with it until she can wiggle out of it later. She, and later Homer, are in a nebulous state of terror through the episode, fearing for their lives being inside Fat Tony’s world, but these characters have been so defanged over the years, and as we see them in this episode, that it really doesn’t sell it. Again, Tony and company read as threats twenty years ago, but at this point, they’re basically old friends of the Simpson family with how many times they’ve crossed paths. Tony seems to genuinely want to go straight after bonding with Maggie, opening up a maternity store, but none of this is ever talked about with either Homer or Marge, so whatever. In the end, Tony subdues Johnny Tightlips after trying to usurp him, and he exposits out loud that being a mob boss is who he is and he can’t change that so he can’t be the godfather, whatever. It’s all just a completely pointless exercise. We get one small character moment of Tony talking about his mother giving him a “First Communion” book and ten dollars as a gift as a kid, but beyond that, nothing new is learned or felt at all about Fat Tony. It’s the same old gags just played on repeat, with nothing for me to feel by apathy.

Three items of note:
– Right off the bat, the episode contradicts “Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily,” with Marge saying they haven’t baptized Maggie yet, and later having a nightmare that her baby will be damned forever unless she rectifies it. The Simpsons being “cafeteria Christians,” as we see in contrast to the militantly religious Flanderses in “Doodily” seems to make more sense to me, but whatever. What’s more bothersome to me is another instance of a giant story hole in one of these episodes that never gets addressed. So Maggie needs a godfather. Marge briskly mentions that either Patty or Selma can be the godmother, and we see her at the baptism and lunch afterwards and she’s completely silent (hey, wasn’t she married to Fat Tony? Oh wait, I guess that character’s technically dead, and Fat Tony is actually Fit Tony… shit, get back on topic, back on topic…) But who are Bart and Lisa’s godparents? Never addressed. How the fuck is that never brought up? The whole impetus of the episode is Marge worrying about what happens to her kids if they die, and that focus is only honed on one of three kids. Bart and Lisa must have godparents, in which Marge must have already asked them to take on Maggie too. It’s one of those things where I’m just boggled at how this never came up when they were writing this script. Like, how?
– The episode opens with the family going to visit “The Overpriced World of Angelica Button,” and you can probably guess what this is supposed to be referencing. You can buy expensive wands, drink some “Batterbeer,” and have the “Categorizing Cap” decide which wizarding house you belong to. Goddamn. The Angelica Button books were first introduced in season 18, which I guess is good, because this MAD Magazine bullshit “just change a few letters and it’s a parody” stuff really started to hit hard during the 2010s. A few years later, and it would have been called “Barry Trotter.”
– Speaking of tired references, Fat Tony saves Homer and Maggie from a falling piano, accidentally dropped by two workmen who look like Laurel & Hardy. It’s the year 2021, right? This episode was written by Elisabeth Kiernan Averick, and while I can’t find an official age for her, she appears to be in her 30s. While it’s possible that she’s a big fan of classic mob movies and turn-of-the-century silent comedy, these feel more like the contributions of the much older veteran writing staff ripping these scripts apart in the writer’s room. Like I said, this all feels like regurgitations of existing parodies rather than anything even remotely new.