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America's Favorite Non-prehistoric Cartoon Family - The Simpsons Thread

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Marge In Chains

Usually, I try to start with discussing an aspect of my life that is reflected in this episode (and vice versa). Self-indulgent? Sure. But it makes sense since I grew up with the Simpsons and it is deeply intertwined with my life and how I see the world (sorry if they seem trite, annoying or just whiney). Instead, I want to start off with the unfortunate use of the opening act in 2020. It can be a real shame when good, or at least harmless, culture is co-opted by shits. I don't think I was ever going to be the audience for the dopey stoner comic "Boy's Club" but it seems a shame that Matt Furie, who by all accounts is a sweetheart, had one of his funny animal characters, Pepe the Frog, turned into a literal symbol of hatred via the art of memification. Furie tried to take back his character but after realizing it wasn't possible, he literally was forced to kill him off in a free comic for free comics day, giving a character a respectful funeral to say goodbye to any hope that Furie had any ownership of this character that wouldn't be fraught. Similarly, this episode recently became important in this, our year of pestilence, with an opening plot point involving an Asian flu being released into Springfield has been re-purposed by alt-right shit bags to laugh about the "China Flu" that is NOT a China Flu that is COVID-19.

In this episode, the town is beset by a flu and Marge becomes more overworked than usual. While shopping under a lot of stress, Marge absent-mindedly shoplifts a bottle of bourbon for Grandpa. Immediately, the town turns on Marge and the trial ends up going quite badly and Marge ends up spending 30 days in jail. Marge acclimatizes to her tough situation and even makes some friends but misses her family. Meanwhile, the reprecussions of Marge's absence ends up snowballing into a city-wide riot.

I knew this was a good one but I'm shocked HOW fucking good it is. Its funny and its sweet and I was surprised how intelligent and empathetic it is in its examination of America's views and attitudes towards crime and punishment. There's a lot to unpack and its all really good. It starts with the crime itself: the crime was an accident, Marge stopped and was being extremely compliant, no one takes time to consider (or even care if) it was an error and even without those aspects, the reaction of the police is completely over the top. The disturbing thing is that it barely even counts as satire considering how not far removed it is from where America seems to be: acting like even the smallest infraction is something out of Robocop's Detroit.

Then there's the town reaction: everyone turns on her and starts talking shit about her. Its extremely small, petty stuff that's supposed to compound her criminal profile like webbed toes and a hair in a cookie she made (though to be fair, it might have been a very long hair). Even the Flanders turn on Marge for the infraction of... fixing a crooked painting. Marge committed a "crime" (at the barest minimum of the legal definition) and everyone decides to rescind their empathy towards her. I think Apu's thinking is wrong and cruel but it does make a kind of sad sense: the Kwik-E-Mart is CONSTANTLY being wronged, so he's finally happy to have someone who "wronged" him he can put behind bars. People can be cruel to criminals but being a criminal isn't the same as being a bad person. It just means being a person who, for whatever reason or intention, broke the law.

We get the more human side from Marge and her family. There's still a lot of comedy but as is often the case, Kavner brings so much humanity to an over the top situation, bolstered by the strong writing. She gets to be funny, too, but most everyone else in Springfield ends up being a ridiculous jerk to make Marge's situation more Kafkaesque and Marge being so sweet and human and played with relative emotional realism makes the consequences of this silliness surprisingly palpable. This isn't the most emotional episode but it is one where that emotion is placed almost entirely in Marge's court and then runs with it and then is arrested for travelling.

The episode's finale is knowingly absurd but it also brings home the point. It begins when a bake sale is behind on its goal by $15 and the town can't afford a statue of Lincoln. I love that NO ONE is willing to chip in $15. Instead of a statue of Lincoln, Springfield gets a statue of Jimmy Carter, a president who, like Marge, got WAY more vitriol than he deserved. The town riots in response and they come to the conclusion this never would have happened if Marge Simpson hadn't brought in $15. Its so silly but I think it also works in terms of messaging: criminals are people. And people are what make up our community. The community turned on Marge and then it wasn't until it was too late that it was realized that Marge had so much value to the community. That could be any person given a trumped up charge far beyond the crime.

The Simpsons has often been a very liberal leaning show, certainly on a social level, but not every plot or episode has aged in that direction. In those terms, as an examination of the American treatment of crime, it holds up very well and has been even more pointed when we can clearly see this kind of shit happening more disturbingly, viscerally and often lethally in black communities. Boy is the Simpsons, a very very white (by way of yellow) show, not equipped to handle that subject matter. But as a more abstracted and general look at the weird lust to punish people for small, perceived infractions, this is a surprisingly smart take on it.

Jokes I missed before:


Followed by a clever use of paper and tape.



Other Great Jokes:

Oh, this one is chock-a-block with good ones.

Troy McClure smashing an orange with his face is a pitch perfect parody of informercial logic before internet supercuts of "people don't know how to do normal things in informercials". The reveal that Homer does the same thing is perfect.

"Don't panic, just come up with a good story."
"My name is Mr. Burns."

A less political and better meme that went around in March was "WHERE DO WE GET THESE PLACEBOS" which captured a moment perfectly.

"The network slogan is true: Watch Fox and be damned for all eternity." Truer now than ever.

Mr. Hutz is WAY too excited about the smoking monkey. I feel like he bought them under the assumption that others would be as into them as he and he was wrong.

"Don't tell anyone but Marge Simpson was arrested for shoplifting"
"Let it go forth from this time and place: Marge Simpson is a shoplifter!"


If I was a lawyer.

"This verdict is written on a cocktail napkin. And it still says guilty. And guilty is spelled wrong."
My guess as to the spelling? "GILLTY"

"Your mom's a jailbird."
"So's yours."
"Oh yeah. Let's play."

Other notes:

David Crosby as Hutz's sponsor plays it VERY gently. Its surprisingly tender.


Is one of those "people of different cultures" cultures a man just dressed like Elvis? I think that's not how I'm supposed to read that but I'm not sure what they are going for with the blue haired guy.

After watching that intro, like ALL my life over and over and over, I've finally noticed something. I know some of the characters are somewhat off model but I SERIOUSLY never noticed that Helen Lovejoy has Maude Flanders hair coloring.

 

Büge

Arm Candy
(she/her)
Milhouse: All right! Bologna and cheese! What do you got, Bart?
Bart: Packet of sugar and some peanut butter smeared on a playing card.
 

Tegan

dirtbag lesbian
(She/Her)
Troy McClure smashing an orange with his face is a pitch perfect parody of informercial logic before internet supercuts of "people don't know how to do normal things in informercials". The reveal that Homer does the same thing is perfect.
Depressing fun fact: the reason people in infomercials are so dumb is because the products are all designed for people with disabilities but for some stupid reason they're not considered a big enough market to sell directly to, so they instead market them to able-bodied but extremely clumsy people.
After watching that intro, like ALL my life over and over and over, I've finally noticed something. I know some of the characters are somewhat off model but I SERIOUSLY never noticed that Helen Lovejoy has Maude Flanders hair coloring.
I only noticed for the first time this year that there's like a whole second where the sky is nakedly visible through the sidewalk because they didn't paint enough of it in.

 

Torzelbaum

????? LV 13 HP 292/ 292
(he, him, his)

Is one of those "people of different cultures" cultures a man just dressed like Elvis? I think that's not how I'm supposed to read that but I'm not sure what they are going for with the blue haired guy.
Yeah, is he supposed to be a Catholic priest? He seems to be dancing next to a Franciscan friar maybe.

The glasses also make me wonder if he is supposed to be Roy Orbison in an Elivs costume. Which makes way less sense.
 

Patrick

Magic-User
(He/Him)
Depressing fun fact: the reason people in infomercials are so dumb is because the products are all designed for people with disabilities but for some stupid reason they're not considered a big enough market to sell directly to, so they instead market them to able-bodied but extremely clumsy people.
True story! It’s actually a clever way to market items designed for a small market to a larger group. They’re able to keep making items that would otherwise not be profitable, and folks who don’t know the background get funny commercials they can chuckle about & unwittingly fund a good cause.
 
Which episode has funnier gags about Homer's complete failure as a homemaker without Marge, this or $pringfield (Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling)?
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Krusty Gets Kancelled

I feel like when you are a kid, you are more vulnerable to "hype". Getting excited about some big new thing. I rarely feel that way anymore and I have mixed feelings. Obviously, its nice not to have my feelings of excitement being used by marketing to take advantage of me. But it is also great to be genuinely excited by something. And its not as if I don't get excited by new things now. I certainly do. But it is so easy for me to wait for things in general. Even the Marvel movies, which I always make time for, usually don't get seen by me until there's been two weeks until I can get into a less crowded theatre. Its so much less palpable. I was the kind of kid who got super excited for glimpses of new movie trailers. While I still like a good trailer now and then, I judge the salesmanship and while I hope for the product to match the hype, I assume that I should take such expectations with a grain of salt.

In this episode, Springfield is blitzed by a new marketing campaign for mysterious something or someone named "Gabbo". It turns out Gabbo is a new kids show competing with Krusty in the same time slot. Krusty ends up losing the ratings war to the point where his show is cancelled. Krusty falls on hard times and Bart and Lisa decide to help him out by using Krusty's little black book of celebrity names and getting them together to hold a comeback special.

If this episode is about anything, its about the fickle nature of showbiz. The stories that tend to come to mind for me are relatively young rising stars (like Thora Birch and Dave Foley) whose promising stardom potential is completely obliterated by personal shit. But there are definitely sad stories of industry veterans who end up in living in poverty and/or obscurity. Of course, some people bring it on themselves, like people who are simply difficult to work with and people slowly do just that. That's why there are some people who aren't particularly strong performers who are so cool as people that they keep getting work because they are great to work with. Keanu Reeves is much beloved now but for a long time his wooden acting made him a punchline. But Reeves by all accounts is the coolest guy, smart, sweet, willing to do interesting projects and when he's finally big again with films like John Wick people heap well-deserved love on him. I mean, who makes mean jokes about Reeves anymore?

Here, we get to see Krusty go through this. Krusty is a jerk but he's a jerk who has built relationships and while he might be something of a hack, he's still beloved enough by other people in the industry who are willing to stand by him that he's able to get on his own two feet again. Krusty doesn't do much except act as ringmaster for his own comeback special really but people really love a comeback in the same way they love a redemption story. Like when Mickey Rourke or Robert Downey Jr. came back and everyone was like "Oh, yeah, that person is actually pretty impressive. There was a reason they were a star." The reason Krusty is a star is generally a lot more cynical about the nature showbiz.

But what really saves Krusty is what ALWAYS saves Krusty... his fans. Particularly Bart and to an equal extent, Lisa. Bart probably deserves a better hero and Krusty probably doesn't deserve a fan like Bart but in the words of Clint Eastwood "deserves got nothin' to do with it" and he's going to do whatever he can to save his hero, in the same way often a star is bolstered by their fans. Think about it, often times a comeback within the industry can be because a creator is a fan and wants to use that actor again out of love.

Of course, what Krusty Gets Kancelled is really about is ending their stellar season with a network pleasing, sweeps week-competing season finale for one of TV's most stellar season. I'm sure for everyone involved it was more putting their nose to the grindstone to make a good episode but tonally, this is a victory lap for the show, showing how the Simpsons emerged from its own fad to become a acclaimed and widely viewed show on its own merits. They can get an army of big name celebrities to show up for a single episode and do a ton of very silly and in many self-effacing jokes. The show has become an institution and is now 30 years old and will probably only end when one of the leads dies (hopefully). It would be super weird to have another person doing any Simpson. The Simpsons will probably never be cancelled under conventional means. But if it is, hopefully everyone in the cast can take care of themselves.

Jokes I missed before:
Someone pointed this out earlier, but the implication that Krusty and Middler's horse should be Misty, not Krudler.

Bart says "Gabbo needs a hook" and Gabbo says his catchphrase and I missed the relevance of Bart following that up with his OWN catchphrase.

Other great jokes:

"It's not a comedy."

"Well, he's dead now!"
"Look Smithers, Garbo is coming."

"But no one is saying 'Worship this' and 'Jericho that'."


"Cheques will not be honored."




I love the horse Krusty bet on being so awful, he just comes over to lick Krusty.

"And now the crazy old man singers!"

"I'll get you for this Middleeeeeeeeee--" *Boom*
Badass Middler is badass.

"I can call you Hef, can't I?"
"No."

"And now back to the wall."

"Ms. Taylor, a couple of grade-school kids wanted you to be on a Krusty special. I told 'em to buzz off."
"Good."

Other notes:

This episode not only gets three singers, one is a stand and the other is a stand user.

Best one line character of the episode: caring and considerate manager of the Gulp n Blow, Mr. Johanson.
 

zonetrope

(he/him)
Worker and Parasite, the one Simpsons t-shirt on Threadless that was apparently too niche even for Simpsons fans.

(I washed mine in hot water too many times and it faded 😔)
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Homer's Barbershop Quartet

I don't think I got into "good" music until university. Not to say all my tastes were bad as a youngster. I knew I liked the Beastie Boys. That was a right call. But in my teens I had a lot of angst and tended to listen to the kind of angst-ish music I just find dull now. That said, there are some tastes I had that are largely derided now I still think aren't bad. The Crash Test Dummies are a punchline now but I stand by quite a bit of their music (not enough to put it on my phone, though, but still). So I guess it is more accurate to say that university is where I became: 1) more discerning in my musical tastes 2) more curious and 3) had less recency bias. Obviously I had known about the Beatles all my life but I never really just listened to them. And I ended up being impressed. There are songs I certainly had heard before that sounded new to me separated from the context of Golden Oldies radio. And some of it was weird and experimental. I also like some of the songs I've heard slammed. Hot take: Octopus' Garden isn't bad. Its silly but its still fun to listen to (not so much Revolution 9). But they were one of the first older bands I'd gotten into. I'm not as into their mythos as some people but I certainly feel I know quite a bit via cultural osmosis and they are often considered to be a turning point in popular music. I feel the same way about the Simpsons (but, you know, with comedy instead of music).

In this episode, the Simpsons are at a swap meet when Bart and Lisa discover a record with Homer on it. It turns out eight years ago Homer was the frontman for a successful barbershop quartet consisting of himself, Principal Skinner, Apu and Chief Wiggum. The band becomes locally successful and eventually are scouted by an agent. After ousting Wiggum, the band picture up Barney, who turns out to be a very skilled crooner and the band becomes a global hit. Eventually after their success, they hit a wall. With Homer out of creative juice, the other members exhausted and Barney more interested in experimentation, the band eventually splits up. At the episode's end, the band gets back together for a one time performance on the roof of Moe's Tavern.

This episode is basically just one pop culture legend sending a love letter to another as the Simpsons tell the tale of the Beatles with Homer and other characters. The previous flashback episodes exist to expand upon what we know of the characters but instead here we have a parody of one of the biggest phenomena in music. This one is chalkablock with Beatles references and a few other ones (I feel like a drained Homer writing songs about C Everett Coop and Mr. T is a reference to Brian Wilson's own odd song subjects, like a song about vegetables or about how to get to his house). Of course, actually knowing about the Beatles might enhance the specifics but the jokes work regardless of your Beatle knowledge. You just need to have an idea of the traditional rise and fall story of stardom and you are set.

Obviously retconning Homer as a singing sensation is mostly for the purpose of making the episode and isn't meant to do much to inform the character going forward. But while this isn't much in the plot, it does make me think how there are some people who did have a brief interaction with big time fame and then returned to a life of relative anonymity. I feel there are actually stories left to tell, maybe with Homer and the rest of the Be Sharps discovering that Searching for Sugar Man style, his one hit wonder is still having an impact. The music itself is good and Homer's #1 hit "Baby on Board" is a delight. This episode is a joyful way to start off the new season, another packed with all time classics.

Jokes I missed before.

A lot this time out.


I never noticed Lovejoy actually had a choice of what to spell correctly...

Skinner's prisoner number is a Les Miserables reference.



Other great jokes:

I love that its signed and I love Joseph's pose.

"Your teenage son or daughter will think this wishbone necklace is really cool."
"I doubt my son or daughter is that stupid."

"What are all laughing about?"
"WHO CARES!"

"Run along boy, you're free now!"
"No, NO NOOOOOOOOOWL."

"Dr. Doolittle is really police chief Wiggum!"
"This bird is going to fly!"

"Baby on Board something something Burt Ward."

"That little boy who nobody liked grew up to be... Roy Cohn!"

"Oh, squiddy, I got nothin' against ya. I just heard there was gold in yer belly."

"THIS ENORMOUS WOMAN WILL DEVOUR US ALL!"


"I'd like a single plum floating in perfume served in a man's hat."
"Here ya go."

Other notes:
Obviously its meant it be silly that there was a "barbershop resurgence" in American music then a couple year later BAM! swing music is big for a hot second.
 

Büge

Arm Candy
(she/her)
The secret best joke in the episode:


Crosby was notorious for his alcohol and drug abuse.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Cape Feare

I think that my favourite film genre is the thriller. I like horror movies but they rarely scare me, even when they are good. But a good thriller always makes me feel the tension. I love that feeling that something a person or moment is pushed to a point where something has to give and the pay off has to be really good to match the anticipation. I had a much stronger reaction to Sorcerer than I did to the Exorcist. So its a delight to rewatch an episode that a comedy that uses the theatrics of thrillers, particularly Martin Scorsese's remake of Cape Fear.

In this episode, Bart receives a number of threatening letters that turn out to be from Sideshow Bob, who is on the verge of being released from prison. With Bob stalking and tormenting the Simpsons, they head into the Witness Relocation Program only to have Bob follow them. Eventually Bob attacks Bart in the family's new houseboat but Bart is able to trick Bob into singing the HMS Pinafore long enough for the boat to head toward Springfield and a brothel full of cops.

With Bob's third appearance, Bob went from one off villain to recurring to finally an arch nemesis for a ten year old boy. Even more than Mr. Burns, Bob is the perfect antagonist for the Simpsons. To a boorish and dysfunctional but loving family goes a brilliant, vain proponent of high culture. Its slobs vs. snob but this time the snob isn't some crusty old dean (that's next episode, except it isn't) but a former television star with a passion for the arts. But in the end, despite his charm and "genius", he can't defeat a ten year old child. By later seasons in the show, he's been defeated so much that the Simpsons can barely be bothered to feel threatened by him and it becomes "Oh, this guy." I have no doubt the writers love showing off their erudite references which they then undercut with incredibly broad slapstick.

And there is slapstick a plenty in this one. There's the infamous rake scene, which was inspired by trying to fill run time but is all the funnier by never stopping (down to hearing a couple more hits in the background of the next scene). There's Bob surviving being stepped on by multiple elephants with inefficient signage. There's Bob's unfortunate trip on the bottom of the Simpsons' car. There's Bob falling unconscious due to blood loss because he insists on writing everything in his own blood. Its a buffet of wacky beatings. Really, while Bob is a genuine threat throughout, you can't actually FEEL threatened by him since almost every scene is punctuated by his humiliation undercutting his menace.

But despite having little actual tension, it has some loving tributes to the tones of a tense thriller. There's Alf Clausen's bombastic score which references the Cape Fear remake. There are dramatic angles and shadows (such as a scene in a Bates Motel, where Bob is writing to himself). Though the episode is mostly a parody of one movie, it feels like a love letter to the genre's style. I will also say while the episode is far too silly to be actually tense, the first act does a good job making the often-confident Bart actually fearful, particularly in a hilarious scene where he gets a radio dedication from Bob set to wipeout as Bart stares on in fear while slowly raising his covers over his head.

By this stage, Bob showing up is an event but its also a special toy that allows the show to slip into different genres. And he's a fun toy, bringing with him a talented comedic actor with a mellifluous voice and giving us more intellectual references that usually only Lisa can provide. I remember getting pretty excited knowing a Bob episode was coming up because it was going to be an exciting romp. And while there are some really good Bob episodes to come, I don't know if they ever topped this one.

Jokes I missed before:
"I'm this century's Dennis the Menace."

Also in Homer's Super Bowl fantasy, for some reason he and only he wears a early 20's century-looking football uniform.
Other great jokes:

Oh, no shortage here.



The slow close up is what does it.

"Neither are my teeth but I can still eat corn on the cob if someone cuts it off and smooshes it into a fine paste. Now that's good eatin'."

"May the next time we meet be under more felicitous circumstances."
"Guh?"
"Take care."
"Buh."




"I'm cold and there are wolves after me."

"HeyBartwannaseemynewchainsawandhockeymask?!"

Other notes:
Should Ned and Maude be worried that Rod and Todd weren't on Bob's "Do not kill" list?

I love so much that in Homer's touchdown fantasy has him winning seven points but his team is still absolutely crushed.

By the time we get to the HMS Pinafore, pretty much anything can happen, Bugs Bunny-style. Someone off-screen passes Bob some flowers. Bob has a costume and a backdrop. A playbill materializes from nowhere. Even for the Simpsons' elastic reality its a bit much and yet its also just perfect.
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
Much like Citizen Kane, I didnt See the Movie until years after having seen and memorized this episode. So I didn’t really grasp how much of it was crammed into the this.
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
There was a scene from the movie that they ultimately cut from this animated comedy that ends with the villain being defeated because he can’t stop singing Gilbert and Sullivan because it was considered too goofy
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Wait, so there's a scene in Cape Fear where someone can't stop singing Gilbert and Sullivan? Like, the Robert Mitchum version? Because I've seen the other version and I certainly don't remember that.

Oh, weird fact, the Cape Fear remake was originally going to be directed by Spielberg before he convinced Scorsese to do it, correctly figuring that having a box office hit would allow him some more leverage in getting movies made. Anyway, before he left it, his Max Cady choice: Bill Murray. I WANT THIS. He would have owned "laughing through Problem Child."
 

zonetrope

(he/him)
Roman numeral III: Surprise boy in bed, and, uh ... DISEMBOWEL him! ... No, I don't like that "bowel" in there. GUT him! Ah, le mot juste!
 

Torzelbaum

????? LV 13 HP 292/ 292
(he, him, his)
Maybe not the most hilarious thing but I do appreciate the gag of Bob's LUV and HĀT knuckle tattoos.
 

yama

the room is full of ghosts
Much like Citizen Kane, I didnt See the Movie until years after having seen and memorized this episode. So I didn’t really grasp how much of it was crammed into the this.
That's the great thing about The Simpsons. Even if you haven't seen the source material, it still works on its own.

See also: The Shinning.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Homer Goes to College

University was very good to me. School before that was a bit hard. I was very depressed in Jr. High and in High School I was a bit better but wasn't entirely happy. When I got to University, I felt the freedom of studying what I wanted in the hopes of getting my dream job. But in the end I think I was a little too entitled and assumed doors would open up for my writing skills. They did not but I still found a great career as an ESL teacher. Despite the fact that what I learned wasn't all that useful in terms of career, I loved learning about literature, philosophy and whatever other classes I took and cherish improving my ability to analyze culture, pop and otherwise. My experience wasn't very similar to the movies, though which romanticizes the step towards independence with debauchery and good times. I feel this representation of college has faded in the new millennium but the raunchy college comedy was a pretty popular subgenre (was Van Wilder the last notable one? I feel like generally things are kept to raunchy high school comedies these days.)

In this episode, after failing a competency-based safety test at work, Homer is urged by Mr. Burns to go to college (who probably doesn't just fire him since perhaps Homer could start raising questions as to why they employed a high school drop out in a position that requires a LOT of training and education for ten years). Homer eventually gets into a college with Burns help but his expectations of university are based entirely around Animal House-style college comedies and immediately starts causing trouble. After one incident, Homer is given a trio of nerdy tutors and immediately attempts to teach them who to party like in the movies. The trouble eventually gets the nerds kicked out of college. Homer eventually gets them back in thanks to a ridiculously forgiving dean and passes his course via cheating. Marge convinces Homer to get his grade honestly and HERE WE GO AGAIN!

Conan O'Brien had a very memorable tenure as writer on the show but he's only gotten a full credit for a small number of this one. It goes without saying that a comedy writer is comedy savvy but I feel like Conan takes special interest in the most absurd comedy. And here the comedy isn't just the kind of humour of a college comedy but instead its taking the antics of a college comedy and bringing it to something resembling the reality of college (a little more closely than those dumb movies). People wouldn't be amused by wacky antics, they'd be annoyed, confused and upset. That's what makes the episode really funny, people having little time or patience for stock comedy tropes and Homer being painfully oblivious to other people's view of him.

The Simpsons helped introduce me to the concept of anti-comedy by taking tired joke set ups and subverting them but this is one where the entire subversion is what the episode is about. Its about a man who doesn't have a college experience so much as he tries to impose his view of what a college experience should be onto college. Our expectations of things are often created and warped by media, and this episode toys with that and uses a character who should be really learning that lesson but is far too dense for him to understand it. By the episode's end, he's learned nothing, not even the little lessons who went to class for and has to start again. He refuses to acknowledge the cool college dean as nothing more than stuffy and repressed because that's how it is SUPPOSED to be. He makes some sort of assumptions about a jock/nerd rivalry. Really, the only lesson he learns is "some nerds are nice but I don't want to be one."

Homer is hilariously awful (different than some of his intolerably awful self in later episodes) in this episode and the only way the show can continue is if people (in particularly the Dean) are improbably forgiving of his mayhem, which itself is played for comedy. The Dean wonders if he was the bad guy after Homer runs him over with his car. He forgives Homer for causing a radiation-based disaster on campus. Homer isn't immediately fired by Burns, who also helps him get into university after Homer's incompetence ruins his application chances. Once again, Homer doesn't remotely deserve his lot in life and Homer spends those chances causing chaos. This might be the most damning episode in the show's history, even more than the brilliantly bleak Homer's Enemy. After all, in that one Homer's antithesis is also kind of awful in the other direction and Homer's dangerous stupidity is sort of charming. He tries to make friends and be a good guy, even if he sucks at it. Here, he just acts like an ass and the world rolls over for him. This is probably the best indictment of white male entitlement I can think of from this show. At the moment. I feel like there's a lot.

Jokes I Missed Before:

Ask about our Latin motto contest.

Also, I guess the nerds room number being 222 is a reference? What was that show about? I only know the title.

Other great jokes:

"The bee bit my bottom! Now my bottom's big!"

I love that Homer is so terrible at his job, he caused an actual and literal meltdown in a van with no nuclear material.

"The box! THE BOX!"
Man, this guy gets caught up almost immediately at Burns' pace.

"I think you'll be... dropping the charges."
"Remember, the painter's moved your desk."

"You must find the jade monkey before the next full moon."
"Actually sir, we found the jade monkey, it was in your glove compartment,"
"And the road maps and ice scraper?"
"They were in there too."
"Excellent! Its all falling into place!"

"Finally, the great taste of Worchester sauce in a soft drink."
"Mmm steaky!"

School of Hard Knockers inanity is perfect, along with Homer reacting exactly the way the movie wants him too.

"What are you going to do."
"Something I should have done a long time ago!"
"You don't know, do you?"
"No ma'am!"

The one guy being slightly annoyed by Burns impotent attempts at assault is perfect.

Homer laughing obnoxiously hard at the professor dropping his notes is good but fuck Castelleneta is on his A-Game with that. Same with the voice he affects when he calls the Dean a stupid head.

"Hello, that sounds like a pig fainting."

"Wait, that's not the wallet inspector..."

"During the exam I'll hide under some coats and hope everything will work out."
My life plan.

Other notes:

Reminder: apparently Homer only needs to pass ONE CLASS to get his job back. And he can't even do that.

Lisa's three examples of prominent nerds, Orville Redenbacher, David Byrne and David Souter, is delightfully random.

Homer seems to be really invested in rolling someone or something in a carpet and throwing them off a bridge.

Reminder for "Someone might draw this" thread inspired by Bart's line of "Start diggin' some nerd holes." The Mystery of Amigara Fault but with those nerds.
 

MetManMas

DNM-123
(He, him)
After The Simpsons went to so much trouble to subvert the college comedy, it felt weird for both it and Futurama to play it straight later on.
 

Tegan

dirtbag lesbian
(She/Her)
Lisa's three examples of prominent nerds, Orville Redenbacher, David Byrne and David Souter, is delightfully random.
Not Souter! Oh noooooo...

(also playing into the recurring gag of Homer's encyclopedic knowledge of Supreme Court Justices)
 
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