740. My Life as a Vlog

Original airdate: January 1, 2023

The premise: Through a series of YouTube videos, we learn about the Simpson family’s rise to Internet stardom as a relatable, lovable family posting cute videos, the wealth, fame, and behind-the-scenes squabbles that come with it, to their current disappearance from public life.

The reaction: Coming off another genre-bending episode this season, and a shockingly successful one at that, I was surprised to find this episode almost like a “Behind the Laughter” of the modern age, with the Simpson family’s rise and fall of fame, and their bickering when the cameras are turned off, feeling very reminiscent of their twenty-three year-old (RIP me) Behind the Music parody. Through YouTube videos from the likes of Comic Book Guy, Martin, Professor Frink and others, we learn the full story: a cute video of Homer helping out Maggie at a recital blew up with millions of views, leading the Simpsons to create more cutsey idealistic family videos, then branching off into their own channels. They kind of breeze past the actual videos that got the Simpsons so huge in the first place, and the machinations of them now having to be content creators endlessly generating time wasting filler as their jobs, all of which should be the most interesting stuff, and unique to the Simpsons in how they react to their new station in life. Instead, it’s all viewed second hand through the other characters reporting on it, which is fine, but hearing so little from the Simpsons’ actual candid thoughts makes the attempted emotional through-line with Homer, Maggie, and the rest of the family feel less effective. Instead we’re just left with the show’s usual surface-level satire on influencers and YouTube creators, where we see Marge hosting a “Hot Ones” style show and Bart as an obnoxious YouTube prankster. Plus, I know this is all “non-canon,” but seeing Lenny, Moe and Carl doing a Joe Rogan-type video podcast, or Patty and Selma doing ASMR… these are characters who barely even know how to use a computer. Or at least they used to be. With the floating timeline, I guess at this point it’s impossible for these characters to not be familiar with basic technology? I’m sure it’s all part of my natural discomfort seeing characters on this show using any modern-day technology, it always feels wrong. Anyway, the Simpsons disappear from the Internet, and it’s finally revealed they locked themselves into a room in their house, separate from their phones, leading them to reconnect with each other as a family, finally seeing eye to eye with each other IRL. How sweet. Or, at least that’s the intention, I guess.  Unlike “Lisa the Boy Scout,” which succeeded as a series of funny one-off gags, this episode needed to use its fractured storytelling to push a complete narrative, which is much more difficult. It does manage to do it, but in a way that feels as soft and ineffective as a typical episode usually is for me. It’s not a mess, but the meat of the episode is very bland, despite its loftier format goals. I give it style points, but that’s about all I can do.

Three items of note:
– This episode probably would have done better to simplify the Simpsons’ fame a bit. Focusing on just having Maggie be the YouTube star could have been a whole episode, like commenting on all those toy review channels that get millions of hits, specifically about “Ryan’s World” and how weird it is to have a child be the basis of an enormous media empire. We see that for a scene where Homer and Maggie are videoed with a seemingly free gift playhouse, but then we quickly switch to see the Simpsons have a channel for the whole family, so now they’re an obnoxious, “perfect” family vloggers, similar to the Holderness family and others like them. That also could have been its own episode. But then we see every family member has their own separate channel (except Homer, for some reason), and that they have an enormous house and are super rich. It all goes by way too fast, which I guess was necessary to speed through their whole story, as well as giving time to all the different YouTube presenters doing their own little bits. The episode almost seemed too ambitious for its own good.
– We get our now-third appearance of Michael Rappaport’s Mike Wegman character, vehemently defending Homer in what must be an ironically dated “Leave Britney Alone” parody (they also did a “David After Dentist” bit earlier with Bart). I guess the writers just love having Rappaport in, or they think this character is funny? Does anybody like him? He also verbally attacks Bart in his scene, which I think rubs some fans the wrong way, so I don’t get why they’re bringing that up again. Who the fuck is this guy? Why is he so obsessed with Homer? I just don’t understand what the point of his character is.
– There’s a final tag to the story where we see the person watching all these YouTube videos is George R.R. Martin, where we get an extended bit about how long it’s taking him to write his next book, making this show’s writers officially the final people on the planet to make that joke. There’s also a weird tag where we see him watch another video of two drag queens (voicing themselves), but their designs look kind of weird. Like in comparison to the hostess in the scene, they almost look out of scale, particularly the one on the right. It’s a subtle distinction, and maybe it’s just me, but they look more like fan art “draw me as a Simpsons character” versus something actually feeling organic to the show.

6 thoughts on “740. My Life as a Vlog

  1. Why oh WHY did they air this episode on New Year’s?

    In every year that’s started on a Sunday, they waited until the 8th. At least this is the last we’ll see of them for a month.

  2. I haven’t seen any of his appearances (don’t plan to either), but the “Mike Wegman” character and his weird ongoing “feud” with a 10-year-old boy just sounds really creepy.

    1. You’re not missing anything, Go Big or Go Homer is one of the worst episodes of Season 31 and Mike himself is easily the worst character the show’s created in a long time.

      Hid obsession with hating on Bart just makes him look more pathetic than creepy. Though that combined with his blind admiration for Homer and his short fuse makes him look rather unhinged and one meltdown away from turning into a psychopath.

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