321. Marge vs. Singles, Seniors, Childless Couples and Teens and Gays

(originally aired January 4, 2004)
Stories are getting thinner and thinner nowadays, but it’s an entirely different case when I have no idea what’s going on. This episode concerns two lobbied initiatives getting on the town ballot, except we’re never really told what exactly they are and how they affect anything. Everything is kept absurdly vague to make room for forced and lame gags about self-righteous anti-motherhood women and mudracking ads. But first, our dumb opening. Maggie becomes absolutely obsessed with children’s musician Roofi (see, like Raffi, but spelled differently!) and Marge takes her to his concert in Springfield, a completely packed affair taking place in Cletus’ backyard. It’s a veritable infant Woodstock, with babies dancing around naked, passing around laced pacifiers and suckling on any breast in sight. It was more than a little disconcerting to me. A sudden storm causes all the babies to throw a tantrum, resulting in Roofi cancelling the show. They then cause wonton destruction, destroying the stage and Cletus’ home, with a reported one million dollar price tag. Forget exactly how two year olds managed to wreck so much havoc with their mothers present, but a million dollars for Cletus’ crap shack? Come on.

Despite the fact that Springfield has had many mob-related incidents concerning adults, this latest one just tears it. Quimby sides with Lindsay Naegle, who forms an anti-youth group hellbent on making families lives difficult, from cancelling school bus service, burning all children’s toys, and ordering police to lightly taze kids acting up in public. This all sounds like insanely vindictive and cruel behavior… because it is. The most disappointing thing is that there’s a shred of a good topic within this episode, on how many laws cater to the safety and well being of children to the annoyance and possible detriment of adults, and Marge coming to the defense for the sake of her family. But this episode doesn’t have a brain in its head, and is much more content with silly absurd montages than crafting a thoughtful story.

Marge enacts her own initiative to be put on the upcoming ballot. What is it for? I’ve no clue, but I’m guessing it’s for the opposite of Naegle’s. But what is her’s? The problem is that everything’s been made so jokey and unrealistic that I don’t understand what the stakes are. Marge is really all in on this and is emotionally invested in her cause, except I don’t know what exactly she’s fighting for or what the ramifications are if she loses. Will people be banned from procreating? Will all people under eighteen be banned from Springfield? Those are extreme examples, but at least I can be on board for the story if I know the risks. The ending is just as bewildering, as Bart and Lisa enact a plan for the kids of Springfield to hug dissenting voters on the way to the polls, causing all of the child-less citizens to collapse to the ground in a diseased fit. Lisa comments that all the single people had no immunity toward the love of children. So what, is this like the dumb ending to “Bye Bye Nerdy,” that kid germs are toxic to people who hate kids? Is that why, it’s chemical? I don’t know if that’s it, and frankly I don’t care. Another episode I just can’t hate because I’m just confused by it. The writing on this show continues to fall apart.

Tidbits and Quotes
– We open with a parody of Steve Irwin, and all I could think of is how much better South Park dealt with him on an episode five years prior (“So what I’m gonna do is sneak up on it, and jam my thumb it its butthole! This should really piss it off! Oh, yeah, that pissed it off alright!”)
– Flipping through channels, we hear a bit of King of the Hill (“Bobby, I got propane in my urethra.”) Hank Azaria does Hank, a pretty shoddy impression to be honest, but it’s kind of a hard voice to do.
– The entire first act of the episode focuses on Maggie, who then disappears for the rest of the show. Couldn’t she have been involved somehow? Like maybe her cuteness ultimately melts the hearts of those cold, soulless single people and changes their minds? Anything? Wait, she does appear later; she throws up in Marge’s handbag, which causes Naegle to scoff at her more. Wonderful.
– The baby riot is just way too fucking silly: the news chirons (Babies to Mayor: ‘Wah Wah,’) Kent on the phone with their “leader,” it’s too fucking stupid to take seriously at all, in what’s supposed to the catalyst for our story.
– Smithers holds up the banner at the end, representing the ‘gay,’ of course. I mean, honestly, just come out and say he’s gay. Don’t keep feeding us this bullshit, it’s clear they just want him to be their gay stereotype now, just be fucking honest about it.
– The whole anti-kid thing makes no sense how they present it: instead of listing off some real problems, Luigi complains about having to give out children’s menus, and Sideshow Mel gripes about the quality of the school plays, which he doesn’t have to pay for, or go to at all because he has no kids.
– I chuckled at Pimply Faced Teen joining the mob, his voice finally lowering (“It’s time to throw away childish things… and become a man.”)
– The gag with everyone disappearing from Luigi’s is alright too: everyone but Marge bolts when she announces her campaign needs money, then Marge bolts when Luigi tells her she’s stuck with the bill, then Luigi bolts when the Department of Immigration arrives with a few questions.
– Dreadful bit with the devil shyster from big tobacco wanting to sign Marge’s initiative. This show has done impossible, fantastical gags in the past, so it’s not like I can bitch about that, but every gag has its context and rhythm, and if it works, I laugh, and if it doesn’t, I don’t. But here, the man handing over a pen with human souls in it, and literally descending into the depths of hell right in front of Marge was just too much. Reminds me of The Critic when a sickeningly saccharine replacement critic for Roger Ebert is revealed to be Satan, but it works within that show.
– Burns ends up signing Marge’s petition, in support of children’s organs (“Oh, unfenced backyard pools, where would I be without you?”) This for some reason causes other people to sign up, thinking that if rich people support something, then it must be good. But rich, diabolically evil people? Whatever.
– I like Homer standing up for Marge (“No one messes with my Mrs. I’ll come down on those guys like the garage door on Bart’s bike!”) but his commercial is pretty laugh-free and kinda stupid (“Visit our web site: http://www.aljazeera.com. We’re not affiliated, we’re just piggy-backing on their message board.”)

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15 responses to “321. Marge vs. Singles, Seniors, Childless Couples and Teens and Gays

  1. I feel like I remember a bunch of the bits from the episode without remembering the episode itself. I’ve got it conflated in my head with the children of the corn episode one “we know allll your secrets.”

    That said, the hank hill blink and you miss it joke is amazing. I say that all the fucking time (big KoTH fan).

  2. I was still recording The Simpsons regularly during Season 15, and I remember I was up in New York for most of January 4, 2004, looking at a college I was considering applying to at the time. We got home exactly at 8:00, and I remember dashing through the house and slamming the cassette into the VCR just in time to get this episode. And then when it was over, I wondered why I bothered.

    I remember nothing about this episode past Act I. There’s a Crocodile Hunter joke that’s horribly tasteless now that he’s dead, some lame Woodstock parodies, and a scene where Chief Wiggum beats babies. Based on these memories, I have no incentive whatsoever to ever watch this episode again.

    • I’m sorry, but what? How does a joke become tasteless now that the guy is dead? Are you saying that any Michael Jackson is now tasteless because the guy is dead? What about all of the jokes about people who are no longer living? Should we stop liking a joker because someone died?

  3. I love how many people frequently just abbreviate this long episode title to “Marge vs. Everyone”. Although, a more appropriate title would be “Marge vs. Everyone Who’s Not Her”. And since when is Marge against gays, anyway? She didn’t harbor any negative sentiments towards John in “Homer’s Phobia”.

    This one just left me scratching my head. The baby riot and the “hug the adults until they keel over” stuff was just stupid and was hard to suspend disbelief for. And I’m trying to figure out what the episode was trying to say; is it that anyone outside of your age group is the cause of society’s problems? It just felt very messy in trying to deliver some social satire.

    • Hmm, you’re right, the name of Marge’s campaign group makes absolutely no sense. For the purposes of the plot, Marge just wanted to undo the crazy child-punishing laws that were already in place, but the “vs. Everyone” name makes it sound like she wants to force everyone else to have children or something. It makes even less sense when you consider that many singles, seniors, teens and gays DO have children, and they would probably vote for the “Families First” schtick if it wasn’t for that name. But I guess it’s all worth it just to hear someone say a stupidly long acronym phonetically. What a brilliant joke that was.

  4. I’m not sure what’s so confusing about the ending. Kids aren’t terribly concerned with things like washing their hands, so they’re full of germs. The immune systems of the parents are stronger from being around their kids all the time, but the single people get sick right away. It’s an exaggeration of course, but as a single guy whose been horrified watching a friends’ kid reach into a bag of potato chips after playing with a dog toy, the ending worked for me.

  5. forbidden donut

    The Rudy Giuliani bit was classic, at least back in 2004.

    But otherwise, this episode was awful, and particularly tasteless. In the first 10 minutes, we get to see babies getting beaten by clubs, falling off a helicopter presumably to their deaths, and getting tazed by their own parents. Holy shit, writers!

  6. > Maggie becomes absolutely obsessed with children’s musician Roofi (see, like Raffi, but spelled differently!)

    Roofi is slang for Rohypnol, a date rape drug, which is funny considering it’s a children’s entertainer. It wasn’t just simple name change, but other than that, good points.

  7. I get your point about them reducing their characters to a catchphrase or one trait and that the characters were a lot more complex before… but I guess it’s worth noting that Smithers exhibited gay traits on classic episodes (I always hear “he’s not gay, he just loves Burns in the classic episodes”, but on FEAR OF FLYING, when ‘It’s Raining Men’ lands in his car, he goes “mmmmmmm!”, not to mention how he wants to take out Mayor Sideshow Bob because of the conflicts with his lifestyle choices). Also, he’s not holding up “gay” on that banner… Jeremy aka Squeaky Voice Teen appears to be the gay one here, heh.

    • I mostly agree with your point, but Smithers’s decisio devotion to Burns seemed to be something beyond your everyday homosexuality. Also, to be fair, “It’s Raining Men” was Homer’s favorite sin song, as well.

  8. First time I saw this today on Channel 4 (UK). The only laugh was everyone disappearing in Luigi’s (3 times); so many bits were too long or repeated or stupid. The Rudy Guilliani thing drove me half-mad – and I didn’t even see the first 5 minutes to see the baby Woodstock. It really was a slow and horrible descent by this stage.

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