(originally aired March 26, 1992)
The origins in “I Married Marge” have got me thinking a lot… Homer shackles himself to a job at the nuclear plant for the sake of his family, despite the fact that he is grossly unqualified and has no real interest in being a safety inspector. The only job he had much of an interest in was working at the putt-putt golf course, and that’s just because it was easy. He’s a man who never really found his calling, so knowing this, the dozens of episodes to follow involving Homer trying his hand at everything from bodyguard to grease salesman kind of make more sense. Doesn’t mean some of them don’t suck, but I just never thought about it from this angle. Anyway, this is the first show that really feels like a “Homer gets a job” episode; sure, there was “Dancin’ Homer,” but that made a conscious effort in explaining how Homer got time off from the plant. Here, he’s just knee-deep in a new profession, putting all his time into it. It’s a really heartfelt show, and a telling examination of Homer’s faithfulness.
The show starts with Homer being the most obnoxious ass possible at a movie theater, and Marge calling him out on it. Nobody likes being made a fool of in public, not even a fool as large as Homer, who takes a late night drive to cool down. At a seedy bar far from home (serving ass-backwards Fudd Beer), he first lays eyes on a beautiful waitress/songstress Lurleen Lumpkin, voiced by the lovely Beverly D’Angelo. Homer becomes entranced by her music, and the rest of the show involves his assisting her rise to fame and Marge’s increasing displeasure of this new beautiful woman in her husband’s life. Most of the humor in this episode lies in Homer’s complete obliviousness. Every scene plays out along the lines of a husband who is contemplating, or having an affair with this woman, but the thought never even crosses Homer’s radar. For a man with endless faults, you can at least say Homer is an incredibly faithful husband, who only have eyes for Marge. The first time he hears Lurleen, with her song, “Your Wife Don’t Understand You (But I Do),” he is enraptured, but it seems that he’s not even comprehending the meaning of the song (similar to later with the overly blunt “Bunk With Me Tonight.”)
This show is also a journey through a slew of slightly discourteous Southern stereotypes, culminating in the amazing Heehaw send-up “Yahoo,” featuring such hit players as Big Shirtless Ron, Butterball Jackson, and the Yahoo Recovering Alcoholic Jug Band. Lurleen herself is an interesting, if not also sad; a woman with real musical talent, but in an undermining job and station in life. She generates real sympathy, even when she throws herself at a married man toward the end, you feel bad for her predicament. The interactions between Homer and Marge are the strongest part of the show, as the two start drifting farther apart as Homer’s new career starts to take off. The ending featuring the two getting to bed as Lurleen’s surrender song plays is one of the greatest endings of the series, certainly of any Homer-Marge episode. Wherein “Life in the Fast Lane” showed an in-character Marge’s reactions to a would-be suitor, this episode is a perfect polar opposite.
Tidbits and Quotes
– Homer’s commentaries during the movie occasionally ring through my head when I’m in a theater (“Who’s that guy? What’d that guy just say when I said ‘Who’s that guy?'”) I also love him blowing the ending, that the secret code was the nursery rhyme he told his daughter; it’s just such a great play on a twist in that kind of a lame espionage movie.
– We know right away the Beer ‘n’ Brawl is bad news. One guy shouts, “Hey you! Let’s fight!” The other guy responds, “Them’s fightin’ words!”
– There’s a small moment in this episode that may be my favorite part; Homer’s got Lurleen’s song in his head and he sings it aloud during bowling night. Lenny chastises him for him, when Carl tells him he’s bowling a 280. Lenny then holds his ball up close and sings to it. Something about the drawing and how he speaks very softly and carefully to the ball, I laughed really hard when he did that.
– We also get the first instance of an emotionally insecure Moe, who is devastated to hear that Homer visited another bar.
– The best lines involve Homer’s blissful ignorance. He defends himself to Marge completely unabashed, “Marge, you make it sound so seamy. All I did was spend the afternoon in her trailer watching her try on some outfits.”
– I love the Corpulent Cowboy, and the salesman who talks Homer into buying his iconic suit: “Now this is made from a space-age fabric specially designed for Elvis. Sweat actually cleans this suit!”
– This is also the first instance, I believe, of Homer citing his lifelong dream, usually followed by Marge reminding him of his other lifelong dream he actually accomplished already, this time of eating the world’s largest hoagie, with a hilarious accompanying picture.
– I couldn’t wedge this into the main review, but there’s something about the story that doesn’t quite compute. I don’t really know why Homer’s so gung ho about being this woman’s manager, to the point that he hands over his life savings to the recording studio guy. I think of it more like playing to the allegory of Homer having an affair, but the farthest thing from it, that pulls him away from his family, but something about Homer’s lifelong dream to be a manager to a music star alone doesn’t work with me.
– With the “Bagged Me a Homer” sequence, I can just imagine the writers desperately trying to come up with a whole bunch of mini jokes to fill the time of the song. I dunno, I’d rather they just focused on the song, they’re kind of distracting.
– Best line of the show is after Lurleen plays Homer “Bunk with Me Tonight.” The signals could not be more clear, but Homer is completely unfazed: “Woah, that’s hot. There isn’t a man alive who wouldn’t be turned on by that. ……..well, goodbye!”
– To close, I love the quick bit we see of Yahoo with the two hicks. “Mah wife ran off with my best friend.” “You bitter?” “Yup. Bit him too. A-hyuck!” Then a board from the fence lifts up and knocks him in the crotch. Laugh track. End segment. Brilliant. I also love the alternate scene that Matt Groening quotes on the commentary: “Zeke, why did you urinate in that turnip truck?” “‘Cause it’s headin’ for New York City!” Man, I’d love to see a whole 22-minute Yahoo episode.