396. The Boys of Bummer

(originally aired April 29, 2007)
Whelp, after two surprisingly good shows, we’re back to basics, here in the most abjectly cruel episode ever. The Springfield Little League team the Isotots are heading for their championship game, after a game-winning catch from Bart. The town is totally psyched about this potential grasp at piddling fame, which I guess is the joke, but the severity on what’s riding on the game is undercut by its utter insignificance. Shelbyville is down by three near the end, but a major fumble in left field by Bart ends up losing the entire game. And the crowd boos. Oh, how they boo, and throw things at this poor, defenseless child. This abuse continues throughout the next few days, grown adults deriding and degrading this ten-year-old to the point where he starts crying. I know the townspeople are quick to turn on people, and the gag involves how serious people take sports, but this is just going way too far over. They were out for blood when Bart cut off the head of Jebediah Springfield, that I can buy giving its symbolism, but here, the kid just lost a fucking Little League game, who the fuck cares?

Eventually, Bart snaps and vandalizes the entire town writing “I HATE BART SIMPSON,” ending with him hanging off a water tower. And then he lets himself fall. After Chief Wiggum tells him to jump. Let me repeat that. Chief Wiggum goaded a ten-year-old boy into killing himself. Earlier right after the game, he lets Bart in his squad car, only to drive him back in the stadium, put the top down (somehow) so spectators could throw shit at him. What a fucking asshole. But back to brass tacks, Bart has just had a emotional breakdown and attempted suicide. Act three begins with him in the hospital… and the townspeople are outside as a mob still screaming and yelling at Bart. What in the mother of fuck is wrong with these people? It’s absolute insanity that they’re acting like this, and worse off, when Marge finally chews them out, Moe steps forward, speaking for the crowd, to give the most begrudging of apologies (“Okay, Midge, you made us feel bad about what we done to your boy.”) Oh, you mean drive him to kill himself? The ending involves them going through great, moronic lengths to recreate the big game, but at this point I’m already too incensed to get any angrier. The people of Springfield are impulsively, easily-swayed morons, but this episode just made them monsters.

Tidbits and Quotes
– There’s a B-story here too, involving Homer being a mattress salesman (another occupation checked off). He helps the Lovejoys find a bed to help improve their love life, only to end up selling his own “miracle” mattress. But when that impedes he and Marge’s snuggling, they break into the Lovejoys to get it back. This premise doesn’t tie into the main story at all, so while Bart is busy being tormented, and attempting to take his own life, we cut back to this plot with a completely different tone. In act three, we go from Bart in the hospital to Homer and Bart in burglar outfits sneaking about Lovejoy’s house. Their son almost killed himself and they still give a shit about that fucking mattress? The plot ends with them getting half a mattress, and they proceed to make love outdoors while a disgusting homeless man watches and proceeds to fondle Homer’s love handles. What. The. Fuck.
– I liked Homer’s search for the “husband chair” at Costington’s. He tries to snatch one until Wiggum gets there first and trains a gun at him (“My wife’s looking for a bathing suit that doesn’t make her look horsey, so I’m gonna be here a while.”) He aims and cocks his gun at an innocent man, and that’s not the worst thing he does in this episode.
– After being so pleased with Homer and Lisa’s behavior the last two shows, they’re back to “normal” now (“All this fuss for a baseball game? Why don’t thousands come to watch a teacher inspire a child?” “Why, it did happen! Just yesterday, in Crazy Town!“) Homer then later sells out Bart right after the game, while everyone else does nothing. The vitriol from the entire town against Bart is so strong, why did it take so long for Marge to get on the defensive?
– The ending makes absolutely no sense to me, and really serves to demean Bart more. They stage an elaborate rematch of the game, then convince Bart he’s allotted over seventy “re-dos” when he can’t catch the ball. Is he that stupid that he doesn’t question what’s going on? And that the whole town would go along with this nonsense when days before, they were out to watch this kid die? The very end with the cut to the future makes it even worse, where Bart recalls that game as the greatest moment of his life, having never been exposed to the lie. It makes him seem absolutely pathetic, whereas before I had the utmost sympathy toward him. Then the spirits of Homer and Marge show up and talk about ghost sex. Okay. One of the worst episodes ever.


28 thoughts on “396. The Boys of Bummer

  1. Just reading about the episode is depressing enough but once again well worded review and also people don’t give a toss about women’s professional sports like male sports so why would they give a shit about little-leagues??? :S

    South Park’s “The Losing Edge” handled little-league sports way better than this soulless dreck.

  2. UGH. This episode is deplorable. Its stupid plot contrivances drive a character we’ve all grown to love to the most depressing place imaginable. Are we supposed to sit back and laugh as a little kid is driven insane with self-loathing while his ‘loving’ family do nothing to help him, and then feel happy and satisfied when his serious emotional trauma is left completely unresolved?

    Because whether he understood it was fake or not, re-staging the crucial moment in the baseball game is a TERRIBLE way to treat Bart’s depression. It *might* make him feel better to catch that ball, but in the long term Marge is just reinforcing the idea that his entire self-worth depends on how good at sports he is, which is what caused him to attempt suicide in the first place! All it’ll take is for him to make one more mistake in a baseball game and his depression will return in full force, and might be even worse.

    [Man, I know Zombie Simpsons has a knack for turning its characters into unlikeable jerks, but making the viewer hate every person in Springfield in just one episode? That’s incredibly impressive. Bravo, Michael Price. Bravo.]

    Seriously, they send Bart to a therapist when he acts up at school, but not when he attempts suicide?! Even worse, the fact that he doesn’t realise the game at the end is obviously being faked implies that his psychological problems aren’t just confidence-related anymore, and that he might be genuinely losing his grip on reality. TAKE HIM TO A GODDAMN PSYCHIATRIST YOU CONTEMPTIBLE ARSEHOLES.

    A-hem. Apologies. I just needed to get that off my chest. Good review.

    1. 100% agree with that although i understand the satire here but how it was handled was fucking awful and wrong on many many levels and the ending was even more morbid to take in too.

  3. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I despise how the modern writers are treating Bart. When he’s not just spouting out one liners that they couldn’t find any other character to use, he’s being shit on and treated as a dumbass even though it’s been shown time and time again that Bart is really intelligent albeit not at Lisa’s level, and any shortcomings he has in life is treated like a joke.

    1. That is why I found Flanders’ Ladder to be the new worst episode ever: Lisa turns uncharacteristically cruel because everyone must abuse Bart, in Bart’s coma dream Maude’s ghost wants Bart to kill Homer for the incident where he bent down and the T-shirts knocked her off the bleachers, Bart doesn’t want Homer to leave, and Homer gets mad at Bart for caring about him and saving his life. This wouldn’t be out of place in Stressed Eric.

  4. I do get some laughs from this one, but yeah, on the whole, it felt pretty mean-spirited and repetitive (really, much of the second act and the start of the third is just everyone harassing Bart).

    Favorite bits:
    -Lovejoy: I have a friend, I mean, a friend of a friend…
    Homer: (loudly) Sex problem, eh?
    -“We tried raising Cain, but weren’t Abel.”
    -Wiggum driving Bart back into the stadium. Yeah, it’s cruel, but it’s a great screw-you joke, since you think he’s going to help him.
    -“Bart Stinks”.
    -Springfield: Meanest City in America (what an honor!)
    -Lisa and Moe’s debate about replaying the game. “Are you SURE?” “Open your freakin’ ears.”
    -Moe streaking
    -“I keep telling you: Ghost sex is nothing! It’s worse than nothing!”

  5. …and they struck out on the third. 😦 This episode is absolutely atrocious to watch and one of the dumbest plots ever.

  6. It was indeed done so much better by SP in The Losing Edge where the adults were clearly living through their children, or just too stupid to see that their kids hated the sport, but this is a different kind of thing altogether.

    It is just too cruel and mean spirited. Even the end where Marge yells at the mob should have been written better as she asked them what they’ve done with their lives. Her having a go at them about how overly horrible they’ve been would have been appropriate.

    As much as I hated eps like Milhouse of Sand and Fog, this is definitely worse. The mob goes too far and don’t seem to know it.

  7. I am kind of shocked by the overwhelming negativity of all the reviews by everyone about this episode. I guess I stand with Jave’s view on this one (he posted his review on Marge Gamer, maybe because he was feeling bad about putting it up here and make his view look strange)
    Myself, I enjoyed this episode, it had some great lines.
    – I loved the discussion between Moe and Lisa about replaying the game (”I’m having trouble envisioning iiit”)
    – Leboot failing to catch Bart (“You still suck, Leboot!”)
    – I even liked the the last scene with Milhouse and Bart about what happened (although Homer and Marge at the end was not necessary, they should have closed it with Bart’s line).
    – I also liked the B-plot with Lovejoy. Homer getting aroused when hearing Marge talk about how the reverend didn’t need to cut the matrass in a food form was pretty funny.
    – I also liked the moment when Lisa points out to Marge that she has to look to the tower, and then Marge goes: ”Wow, how about that?”. Then Lisa points to her glasses and then she is shocked when she sees it is Bart up there.
    – I also read about the reference when Homer catches the ball before Bart,, that this really happened in a baseball game once, good joke.
    For me, I just see this episode as a satire on how people can get so upsessed with just a silly game of sports (in this case, baseball). First, the kids are celebrated as heroes when they get to the final, and when Bart screws it up, he is seen as a loser. People dislike the fact that the townspeople are way too hard on Bart. Ofcourse this is true, but you still have to remember: it’s Springfield, the mobs changes emotions so easily (like with the sorry sign). People even find this offensive, while I think it is just ment as satire, and you shouldn’t take their hatred too seriously.

    I also think that people should watch the episode first, create their own view about the episode, and then read all the reviews. I feel this sometimes isn’t done, and then your opinion may be influenced.

    1. Or maybe its you the only one who don’t understand what “The Simpsons” is(was) about, its characters, its writing style, and its absolute genius. If you like this episode it’s clear you just never totally liked and understood this series, but only some of the very basic and simple aspects of it.

  8. And I wanted to add I always read and respect all people’s views on every episode on this blog, it’s a great review site! 🙂
    Maybe it’s because I didn’t see all the classic episodes before the 21st century episodes, my idea of Simpsons humor is not like others like you.
    I am now watching every episode from the first one back and reading all of Mike’s reviews. Ofcourse I agree that the older episodes are better then the new, but I feel I am much less critical about all the later episodes than Mike and others here. Like for example, this season for me had a good amount of good episodes.
    Ofcourse you should be critical when you must, but I just wanted to write my opinion on this because it is soo different.
    (I hope I can keep my positive look into next seasons)

  9. It’s just that driving him to suicide is way too cruel, even for this show.
    Plus, it can hit a bit close to home/

  10. This episode is so incredibly infuriating and offensive.

    Even the description of the show reads like one of those “Dead Bart” creepy pasta.

    Just despicable and shows how far this show has fallen.

  11. I’m honestly flabbergasted that someone wrote “And then Chief Wiggum tells Bart to commit suicide”, presented this to the other writers, they all went along with it, the actors all went along with it, no-one at any point said anything at all?

    The joke is there, hahaha people take sports way too seriously, but there’s about a billion better ways to do it than this one.

    It doesn’t help that the ending is just beyond ridiculous.
    Is Bart really that stupid? I guess he must be given the flash forward.
    Which makes him not only stupid but incredibly pathetic.

    What the hell were they thinking?

    1. I’m always shocked by a lot of the things the actors go along with. I suspect that by this point, they’ve all checked out (probably 15 years ago or more) and are content to just do the job, collect the (massive) paycheck and go home. Much like the residents of Classic Springfield or the everyday folks they were modeled after/mocking.

  12. Another perfect example of the writers not being able to do their job and trying to copy South Park (or, even worse, Family Guy) over-the-top and dark homour and situations. Pushing a kid to commit suicide is typical South Park material, because that’s a whole different show with a whole different style; but here.. it’s just an abomination.

  13. Sweet Christ. Up until this season, and this episode, Iwas watching The Simpsons just because I had nothing better to do. But this episode was the turning point. It’s what made me hate The Simpsons, or at least what they’ve become. Seriously, a kid fumbles a catch at a Little League baseball game and gets damn near run out of town because of it?! When did this show turn into the Fairly fucking Oddparents?! (yes, because that’s the kind of bizarre shit I’d expect to see there) This premise alone is as inane as they come, and the resolution doesn’t help. I understand Marge standing up for her son (although not swaying them all so easily, even though it’s an obvious happy ending setup) but the way they choose to make amends is nothing short of ridiculous (not helped by the fact that Homer actually ruins one of the attempts of having Bart catch the ball).

    I swear if I ever meet Al Jean personally (and I hope I don’t), I’ll kick him so hard in the balls that he’ll be traumatized with the prospect of reproducing.

  14. It took me so long to realize, this situation- where a single error was enough to make a baseball player kill himself- really did happen, in the 80s. Here’s the link that can prove it: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donnie_Moore

    This episode was ungodly cruel, and is easily one of the worst. It really makes you wonder how the writers seem to think of the characters, and how they’re supposed to act.

  15. What the fuck is wrong with this town? It wasn’t bad enough they made the citizens force Abe into trying to commit suicide in the last season for them losing a stupid NFL team, but now they try to make a 10 year old child kill himself over losing a stupid fucking children’s baseball game? How did they turn the lovable citizens we saw in “22 Short-Films” into the most vile, repugnant pieces of shit imaginable? HOW?!

    On the other hand, since when does Bart even give a damn what other people think of him? He’s never cared before, why should he now?

    There is so much wrong with this episode that I can not even begin to fathom it all. Why would Marge even care about a mattress when her son just tried to kill himself? It doesn’t make sense. Why not have it turn out that Bart’s trouble was what was really killing their sex life, NOT the mattress? Instead, it feels like they wrote two different episodes and then merged them into one.

    I also have to agree with what Edde said to El Barto. If you know anything this show, you can easily see why this episode is putrid.

    1. Oh yeah, the mattress thing, I forgot. But then, that was so out-of-place within this episode it’s hard to even care. Like you said, it’s like they took two different episodes and edited them into one.

  16. Since many of you commenters and this blog notice when some episodes of The Simpsons point out problems and don’t try to make them go away, you should really give The Boys of Bummer credit for knowing that everyone who was turned into the same unlikable jerk was doing something bad, calling them out for it, and forcing them to give Bart his confidence back by letting him do the game over and over again until he catches the ball.

  17. I don’t actually think the show understands why the crowd’s reaction was so wildly inappropriate. Like even at the end, Marge’s speech implies that if people in the crowd had been more successful in their lives, they’d be more justified in driving Bart to try to kill himself. Just ugh.

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