(originally March 21, 2004)
I don’t feel like sidestepping, this is one of the worst fucking episodes of the series. We’ve seen plenty of Homer being a complete selfish asshole, but in this show not only does he do something completely irredeemable to his wife, she takes him back with absolutely no acknowledgement of it. But before I open that can of worms, let’s cover the terrible first act, where the show takes aim at Star Wars: Episode I. When did that movie come out? 1999, five years before this show aired. How topical! Also it’s not Star Wars, it’s Cosmic Wars, everything is exactly like it, just the names have been tweaked. Why bother? Remember when young Homer and Marge saw The Empire Strikes Back? Now they’d make it The Lordship Fights Again or some shit. We’ve already had SPRAWL-MART, this is just one small step toward Nintendo Zii and Mapple. Anyway, the show’s scathing criticism of the movie is that its over-reliant on special effects and Jar Jar is an annoying stereotype, comments that have never, ever been made a thousand times over. Bart and Lisa are incensed, and the family goes to California for them to complain to George Lu… I mean, Randall Curtis himself, because I guess they have the money to drop everything and go across the country like that. The kids break into Curtis’ office, where Lisa speaks as the writers in humorless criticisms (“Better technology doesn’t mean better storytelling!”) In ten seconds, Curtis is a changed filmmaker, and that’s the end of him. But honestly, this show is in no position to criticize anyone for lack of quality. Episode I is a boring, convoluted mess, but I’d watch it over modern Simpsons any day of the fucking week.
Anyway, the plot here, and I use that term loosely, is that Homer and Marge become drinking buddies, which strengthens their relationship somehow. But there’s kind of an uncomfortable edge to it even at the start, where it feels like Homer is allowing Marge into his world almost begrudgingly, even though she should be the love of his life. Marge feels honored that Homer invites her to Moe’s, even though she should hate the place that her husband has wasted so many hours wallowing away in. After one too many hangovers, Marge suggests the two socialize without drinking, which Homer of course will have none of. He feigns ignorance and brings Marge to Oktoberfest, where the two of them get plastered. Homer crashes the car driving home, and not wanting to get another DUI and get his license taken away, he swaps a passed out Marge into the driver’s seat, framing her for the crime. Homer’s done a lot of shit, but I can honestly say this is the worst thing he’s ever done. Ever. Anyone who can pitch a more deplorable act, be my guest, but this is just monstrous.
Homer bails Marge out, thinking it will all be water under the bridge, but Marge is devastated at what she thought she did, and becomes something of a town laughing stock for her drunken escapades, even though I’m sure Homer gets into far worse at a more regular schedule. She checks herself into rehab, and Homer goes to visit and confesses his horrible actions. Here’s what happens after that: Marge is completely livid and storms out, while Homer appears sad, then takes another swig out of his flask hidden in a Bible, because he’s a clinically addicted drunk. Marge returns to her support group and they all get hammered. After a few drinks, she bemoans that she doesn’t feel happy, then concludes that it was Homer’s company she enjoyed all along. Then she reunites with Homer and urges him to cut down on drinking; he reluctantly accepts that he’ll cut out all clear liquids, but it’s really no agreement at all since we know he’ll be a raging drunk in future shows. So no mention of Homer’s transgressions at all after that, Marge has just completely forgotten about it. Before the two leave, the rehab clerk speaks up (“I really don’t think you two should leave. He’s a chronic alcoholic, and you’re in complete denial.”) And you know what? He’s right. Homer’s completely wasted and Marge drags him out. It’s almost like an abusive relationship, Homer got his wife thrown in jail and continues to kill himself with booze and Marge takes him back every single time. What a sour, disheartening look at this couple I love. This episode starts out aggravating with the Star Wars stuff and just gets worse and worse into a completely explosive end where I end up hating everyone and everything that’s happening. Homer has gotten away with a lot of awful things, but doing this hideously awful thing to the love of his life out of his own selfishness and completely getting away with it with absolutely no remorse? Fuck this guy. Fuck him right up his fat fucking ass.
Tidbits and Quotes
– All the Cosmic Wars stuff is just interminable, and it’s the entire first act. Why would they wait so late to do this shit? I’m sure it’s something they wrote around the time of Episode I and kept it lying around, then figured they could just dig it up and slap it on the front of the Homer/Marge drunk story.
– Jar Jar Binks is now called Jim Jam. Sigh. We saw Comic Book Guy with a Jar Jar figure in a past episode, so this don’t make no sense. All this name change stuff is so uninspired, it’s like out of a low rent MAD Magazine.
– Homer rubs me the wrong way right out of the box, hesistant about Marge joining his wine binge (“Who am I gonna complain about when I’m drinking?”) Why would he complain about Marge, the saintly woman who puts up with his crap all the time? There’s a lot of troubling things in Homer’s day-to-day, but one thing that always made him likable was his unwavering love toward his wife. Now she’s this buzzkill harpy that gives him a hard time. Bullshit.
– A latter Simpsons staple joke seems to be over-explaination, which we see several times this episode, from Moe (“Now, in a step I should have perhaps taken initially, let me look up the value of that bottle in this wine collector’s guide,”) and Chief Wiggum (“Maybe someone else is here, and maybe he’ll step forward and admit to being the real culprit!”) These lines don’t work because they feel completely unnatural; no one talks like this at all. Ever.
– Homer and Marge’s social drinking is kind of not fun to watch; just seeing them completely blasted and stumble about giggling and laughing, it’s not healthy behavior. It’s basically Marge aiding and abetting Homer’s rampant alcoholism.
– It’s amazing how Homer remains completely selfish throughout the entire third act (“I can’t believe I drove drunk.” “But you do believe it, right?”) even up until his final admission of guilt (“Marge, I did it out of love! Love of not being arrested!”) It’s baffling how the writers don’t seem to understand or bother to notice how completely unlikable this makes Homer. Most telling is during this last act, where you’d think Homer would be going through some emotional turmoil from what he did, there’s a terminally extended sequence involving Homer mimicking hold music on the phone that goes on foreeeeeeever. His wife checked herself into rehab and is in complete despair all because of him, and we’re watching him belting out songs and giving phony hold messages like a fucking idiot. It’s a virtually unwatchable sequence in a virtually unwatchable show.