(originally aired November 5, 1995)
Homer’s such an unhealthy lazy glutton, it’s kind of surprising he consistently checks in at a mere 239 pounds. You’d think he’d be a lot heavier, but here, we see he needs the right motivation. When Homer discovers he can go on disability if he’s over three hundred pounds, he vows to gain the extra weight so he can work at home. This leads to a great montage of Bart helping Homer put on the pounds, first consulting the quack Dr. Nick, then raiding the supermarket of its fatty wears, with such products as Much Ado About Stuffing and Uncle Jim’s Country Fillin’ (Just Squeeze ‘N Swallow!) His plan is a success, as he manages to gain over fifty pounds in one weekend, and a workstation is installed in his living room. Donning a festive muu-muu and championing, Homer embraces his portlier self (“You never had faith in me before, but let me tell you, the slim lazy Homer you knew is dead. Now I’m a big fat dynamo!”)
Amidst the goofiness of the idea of the story is an actual dose of reality. Lisa is rightfully concerned for her father’s health, where Marge turns mostly a blind eye, asserting most of her husband’s hair-brained schemes deflate once he finds something good on TV (“But this season…”) I really like how we see both Simpson women’s viewpoints, where Lisa, as a peppy youngster, is very outspoken, while Marge is a bit more reserved, not wanting to be a bother, and has to be pushed to say what’s really on her mind. She eventually confronts her husband about her worries, but it’s to not much avail. Meanwhile, it turns out Homer is equally as incompetent at home as he is at the plant, watching TV on the couch whilst batting at his keyboard with a broom, then later going out to the movies, leaving his drinking bird to tape at the keys. This of course bites him in the ass when he returns to find he accidentally caused an impending catastrophe at the plant, and must find a way to get there to save the day.
While I appreciate the attempts made to create a realistic layer to this story about rampant obesity, this episode is pretty much fueled on jokes. You’d think a whole episode filled would fat jokes would grow a bit tired, but that’s not the case here. Plus, there’s other avenues of humor, from Homer’s ignorance of computers (“‘To start, press any key.’ Where’s the ‘Any’ key? I see ‘Esc,’ ‘Ctrl,’ and ‘PgUp’…”) and his general ineptitude carrying over to the home, as he inadvertently gases an entire field of crops (“Oh, no! The corn. Paul Newman’s gonna have my legs broke.”) The only thing in the show that mildly bothered me was Burns leading the exercise program; he’s got his fair share of great lines (“I want to see more Teddy Roosevelts and less Franklin Roosevelts!”) but his generally cordial attitude to his workers felt a bit alien. But it does lead to the great finale where he attempts to coach Homer to get thin, but gives up and decides he’ll just pay for the liposuction. Which begs the question, why didn’t they suck out more fat and make Homer thin? Maybe Burns only wanted to spend the money to get Homer down to his normal weight. Or maybe we love Homer just the way he is, 239 and feelin’ fine.
Tidbits and Quotes
– A truly pathetic, but hilarious, shot of Homer reduced to his underwear and sweating up a storm after doing a few jumping jacks.
– Homer attempts to get himself injured: he stands under a hard hat area at a construction site, but thinks better of it when he witnesses a man get crushed by a wheelbarrow full of cinder blocks. Then we get a wonderfully staged and animated sequence when Homer spills oil on the floor at work and attempts to slide and fall, but just ends up sliding through many different rooms of the plant until he ends up in Burns’ office. After an awkward back-and-forth, Homer asks Burns to give him a push the other way, which he does.
– Love Homer reading off the list of qualifying disorders (lumber lung, juggler’s despair, achy breaky pelvis) and his ultimate grief (“I’m never going to be disabled! I’m sick of being so healthy!”)
– Dr. Nick coaching Homer on gaining weight may be his best scene in the entire series, starting with revealing the four neglecting food groups, the whipped, congealed, empty calories, and the chocotastic. In a serious manner, Homer asks what he can do to speed up the process. Dr. Nick tells him to be creative: “Instead of making sandwiches with bread, use poptarts. Instead of chewing gum, chew bacon!” Bart throws out his own suggestion (“You can brush your teeth with milkshakes!”) which Dr. Nick is impressed by (“Did you go to Hollywood Upstairs Medical College too?”) As a goodbye reminder, any food you’re unsure about, rub on a piece of paper; if the paper turns clear, it’s your “window to weight-gain.” This comes back later in a great scene where Homer is concerned how fatty a fish sandwich is, until Bart rubs it on the wall until it goes clear.
– I love Homer’s insane dream of what working at home will be like, power station set up in the backyard with a snack machine, and Marge doting on her young go-getter husband. Meanwhile, Flanders returns from work looking a wreck (“A crazy guy shot a bunch of people and the subway ran over my hat.“)
– There’s some great animation regarding Homer’s new mass in bed, first when he gets in bed, lowering the mattress and causing Marge to tumble on top of him, then later when he gets up for work, and the entire bed shifts as he whips his massive frame to the edge of the bed. Just fabulous.
– Homer’s one pound away from salvation, but Bart informs him they’re out of food (“We’re even out of the basic elements of food. You ate all the tarragon and you drank all the soy sauce.”) Maggie comes to the rescue with a Play-Doh donut; Bart informs him it’s non-toxic, but Homer has eaten it anyway. He just makes the 300-mark… then notices that his blubber is against the towel rack, finding he’s actually 315.
– Burns again doesn’t know Homer’s name; I love Smithers returns to him as a “chair moistener.” Homer working at home makes the paper… as “Burns Survives Brush with Shut-In.”
– Amazing dream sequence of Bart wanting to be like his dad, a morbidly obese bed-ridden husk of a man. The reading of “Ah wash mah-self with a rag on a stick” is so disturbing, but so hysterical, one of the best lines of the series.
– I love the throw-away line when Marge talks about how sensitive Homer is (“Remember when I giggled at his Sherlock Holmes hat? He sulked for a week and then closed his detective agency.”) I’d love to see the story behind that.
– The confrontation between Homer and Marge is a great scene, very honest, with Marge concerned for her husband’s health, but also their marriage, clearly not so physically attracted to such a massive man. This leads to a great moment later when Homer discovers he only has to type ‘Y’ instead of ‘Yes,’ so he mindlessly takes the opportunity to gloat to his wife (“Hey, Miss Doesn’t-find-me- attractive-sexually-anymore: I just tripled my productivity!”) Marge could care less of course. Another great moment is when Homer is briefly distracted by the dog, but when Marge comes to the room, he rushes back to his desk and taps the keyboard, like a little boy caught doing something by his mother. Marge could care less, she’s off to do errands. Homer calls and asks for a lemonade and a beer, referring back to his dream in the first act.
– There’s two jokes in this episode where Lisa attempts to defend her father, then her assertions are dashed. Neighborhood kids stare at Homer on the couch through the window, Lisa attests he’s a good-hearted person, then Homer yells and berates the kids (“Don’t make me close that shade!”) Later on the bus, Lisa tries to claim her father isn’t a food-crazed maniac, then Homer drives by in an ice cream truck stuffing his face.
– Homer attempts to call the plant to warn them, but is unable to dial properly, getting a voice message: “The fingers you have used to dial are too fat. To obtain a special dialing wand, please mash the keypad with your palm now.” Even better is the voice is of Joan Kenley, who is most known for doing the voicemail messages.
– Similar to the crazed derelict in “Bart Sells His Soul,” Homer talks a mile a minute like a wild man who pulled over to give him a ride, terrifying him. He later does the same to an ice cream truck, blabbering on, as the driver is absolutely shocked and runs off, like this is his worst nightmare that a big fat guy would take over his truck.
– Lisa and Bart have their own unique takes on Homer saving the day (“I think it’s ironic that Dad saved the day while a slimmer man would have fallen to his death.” “And I think it’s ironic that for once Dad’s butt prevented the release of toxic gas.”)