(originally aired April 25, 2004)
This season has been pretty terrible, but none of the episodes were really particularly aggravating me and bringing my ire up. Then we get to this week and it’s like one mind-numbingly awful show after another, culminating with this one, an episode filled with bitterness and recrimination amidst the previously loving Simpson family. Of all the caricaturization of the main cast, the one who hurts the most is Marge, who is mostly a doormat and endless apologist for Homer’s insane antics, as seen in “Co-Dependent’s Day.” But this episode just brings her, and Homer to an extent, to a whole new level, as they seem to harbor a deep resentment toward their own children. Bart and Lisa get out having to go to a great uncle’s funeral in Dayton, Ohio, and in exchange Marge demands that they all do something together as a family. They rent Love Story, because kids love tragic romantic films, then when Bart makes snarky commentary and Lisa soapboxes about the illogical love affair (because she’s apparently a jaded thirty-something now and not a little kid), Marge chastizes them for ruining she and Homer’s romantic moment. Wasn’t it her insistence that they watch the video as a family? It’s like the writers just forgot.
On a spur of the moment decision, Homer and Marge blow off Dayton and catch a flight to Miami Beach to have a second honeymoon. Marge gleefully announces that she’s ditching their kids, toasts to a life without them, and she and Homer laugh uproariously at starry-eyed newlyweds who can’t wait to bear fruit. It’s so, so uncomfortably how hateful this episode is. Would Marge ever, ever speak bad about her children? Never. In the past, we’ve seen her get annoyed with them, even in a similar situation; in “Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy,” she hurriedly tries to calm Bart’s nerves so she can get back to screwing her husband. Here, she and Homer openly criticize them for nothing except for some childish horseplay in the first act. Bart and Lisa discover where they really are, and for some reason have a new mission (“We’re going to follow them across this great land, making sure they don’t have one moment of fun!”) That’s Lisa saying that, by the way. They write her so adult you’d think she would be mindful of her parents wanting to get away, but in this show she’s brought down to Bart’s mentality so the “story” can “work.”
So it becomes a cross-country chase as the kids chase the parents from hotspot to hotspot, because this totally makes sense as something that can happen. The hand wave it with showing Homer having Flanders’ credit card, and I guess Marge is so horny she has no ethical qualms about it. This is told via an extended montage sequence “parodying” the opening credit sequence to the show’s namesake Catch Me If You Can. It doesn’t really count as a parody if you’re not… parodying anything: both sequences use the same style and music, and are about two people (or two and two people) chasing each other from place to place. Last stop is Niagra Falls where Bart and Lisa finally catch their parents; Marge yells at them to shut up (a painful moment), and Lisa doesn’t react to her mother’s resigned disappointment. At least not until the next morning where she tells Bart that they went too far and should give their parents some space. They go to a carnival, where Homer and Marge happen to be, who flee to a moon bounce, which ends up tipping over the falls while the two are having sex. While Bart and Lisa watch from binoculars and comment how everything worked out fine this week. Marge, the endlessly loving solid hunk of bedrock of the Simpson family, resents her children. The happy ending involves she and Homer finally having sex, and doesn’t involve apologizing to her kids for the horrible things she said, or for lying, or realizing how important they are to her. Everything about this show is unpleasant and uncomfortable, and I know I keep saying this, but I think we’ve ended the week on the worst one of all.
Tidbits and Quotes
– Bart and Lisa burst through the door fighting each other, knocking Maggie out of Marge’s hands. Her reaction? “Shame on you two creeps!” Creeps? She’d break them up and scold them for sure, but creeps?
– The only moment of authentic Marge in this episode involves her fawning over the wonderful attractions Dayton has to offer (“It’s got Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and a zipper museum!”)
– I have to stress this again: Marge insisted they do something together as a family, end up renting a movie that her children would have no interest, then get annoyed when they interrupt her cuddling with Homer, and grumble about how kids “ruin everything” afterward. You sat two children in front of Love Story and expected them to watch and be quiet?
– Homer and Marge getting on a different plane is another of this logic gaps the show’s common for now, but the hand wave with the guy at the gate isn’t half bad (“Go ahead, what do I care? I’m getting laid off tomorrow.”)
– Oh yeah, there’s also a runner involving Grampa trying to hit up old widows on Miami Beach, but ending up the penthouse with an elderly gay guy for some reason. And that’s the end of that “plot,” Grampa’s stuck in Miami. Also, where the hell did Maggie go?
– Marge and Homer come back to their room only to find Bart and Lisa asleep outside their door. Marge’s response? “The kids tracked us down!” Not out of surprise, but disappointment. How the fuck did they get here, she might ask. They then quickly get the hell out of dodge, with packed suitcases even though they couldn’t get to their room, with Marge telling the taxi driver to “step on it!” She can’t get away from those fucking kids fast enough, I guess.
– Homer and Marge and Bart and Lisa end up on the same Ferris wheel after the kids decided to give them some space. Lisa attempts to explain her motives were good, but Marge cuts her off, “We understand perfectly well!” Seeing her yell at her daughter twice in one show… it’s so uncomfortable. Think back to “Scenes From the Class Struggle in Springfield,” all the events of the show have led up to a stress-harangued Marge trying to mend her dress for the umpteenth time, causing her to explode on her daughter, a moment treated with actual drama, since that’s so unlike her to do so. Here, she reams out her kids for her own selfish reasons since she just wants to get her rocks off. Which she does in the end in place of an actual apology for acting like a mean, deceitful bitch. I’m not even angry about she and Homer going over the falls without a scratch on them, this is all bullshit.