(originally aired January 27, 2008)
So… this episode. Let’s talk for a second about what I believe to be the show’s moving timeline. Homer and Marge’s senior prom was in 1974, but that was from “The Way We Was,” which aired in 1991. With the show still airing, being set in modern time, and with the characters not aging, time shifts forward, so at the point this episode aired, Homer and Marge would have graduated high school in… 1991. Weird, huh? So in this show we get to flash back to the craaazy nineties where Homer and Marge are young twenty-somethings. Rife with comedy potential! Except the show’s golden years ran through the 1990s, so what the fuck is the point of this episode? It’s just a bunch of wall-to-wall references and bland, uninteresting conflict. We see that Marge gets accepted to Springfield University, and Homer takes up a job at his father’s laser park (what?) to pay for it. There, she falls for a smug, self-righteous professor, and due to his heartbreak over it, Homer inadvertently pioneers grunge music.
People fucking hate this episode, and I absolutely see why. I can’t summon that much ire for it, just because I can’t get over why this episode even exists. It’s just completely unnecessary, attempting to serve as this weird 90s time capsule, when we already have the actually good tenure of the show to look back on. Flashback shows in the past were about exploring the believable trials of our characters with pinches of 70s and 80s nostalgia sprinkled in. Here, it’s literally nothing but name-dropping. Beanie Babies, Zima, Seinfeld, The Bridges of Madison County… remember all that stuff? Also, all these recent flashback shows seem to be about periods of strife in Homer and Marge’s past, because we don’t have enough episodes where their marriage is in crisis. Do I even care? Then Homer basically becomes Kurt Cobain, has numerous hit records and is a national sensation, almost instantaneously, I guess. We had a whole episode devoted to the rise and fall of the Be Sharps; here it’s roughly three and a half minutes. I guess the family’s penchant for instant success and fame carries over to the past too. So yeah, this episode sucks big time, but it really just baffles more than angers me. Like, what the fuck am I watching? And why?
Tidbits and Quotes
– Flashback shows used to involve Homer and Marge telling the kids about how they were born and their younger days. Now they just wantonly tell them stories about how they broke up and got back together, tales of debauchery and drug addiction. Doesn’t seem very appropriate. It’s like “Another Simpsons Clip Show” where they openly talk about their almost affairs with their children.
– In place of Apu, Skinner and Barney doing barbershop, which originally was such a great gag in itself, now we have Homer singing Boyz II Men, and then of course grunge, with Lenny, Carl and Lou. Ugh. What’s funny about hearing them sing parodies of Nirvana songs?
– Professor August is such a boring character. And his absolute ease with manipulating Marge into breaking up with Homer makes her seem like a mindless pushover. Marge was, and still is, quite smart, I don’t see why she’d be that easily messed with.
– The timeline within the episode itself doesn’t even make any sense. Homer references the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld, from an episode that originally aired in 1995. Meanwhile, he one-ups Kurt Cobain and Nirvana, who were in full swing by the beginning of the 90s.
– Homer and Marge divide up their possessions, where Homer takes the LPs, typewriter and Enron stock, and Marge gets the CDs, computer and Microsoft stock. Get it? Hilarious in hindsight! References!!
– Homer performs “Shave Me,” of course a parody of “Rape Me,” dressed as Kurt Cobain in Little Seattle, where there’s a mini Space Needle and it’s dark and rainy. This couldn’t be more on the fucking nose…
– Similar to “Three Gays of the Condo,” the only light in this episode comes from Weird Al, who shows up in a video parodying “Shave Me,” still rocking his old 80s/early 90s look. And if nothing else, this episode gives us the immortal quote, “He who is tired of Weird Al is tired of life.”
– “At least we know there’ll never be a President worse than Bill Clinton. Imagine, lying in a deposition in a civil lawsuit. That’s the worst sin a President can commit.” “There’ll never be a worse President. Never.” “Never.” Too subtle. Also, between this and last episode, where Burns mentions how they rigged the 2004 election, all of a sudden now the show has the balls to attack Dubya, when he’s got one foot out of the office already. And the jokes suck regardless, so it doesn’t even matter.
– The episode ends with Homer and Marge going to that fateful windmill on the mini golf course where Bart was conceived. Except now it doesn’t make any sense. It was bizarrely sweet in “I Married Marge” since Homer worked there; now it’s like they just drove out to the mini golf course at night, snuck in and decided to fuck. Why would they do that? They spent the whole show altering the entire timeline, but for some reason, the location of Bart’s conception is sacred ground that they dare not change.