411. That ’90s Show

That '90s Show(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.

Advertisements

44 responses to “411. That ’90s Show

  1. Easily the worst Simpsons episode I’ve ever seen. Nothing else needs to be said, really.

  2. This episode annoys me mostly for the timeline reason you mentioned. “Lisa’s First Word,” for instance, kept all of its references limited to 1983 and 1984, and it actually had a story. It didn’t exist just to spoof the ’80s. This episode has a reference to the Lewinsky scandal even though Homer invents grunge which existed in the late ’80s. What fucking year is this supposed to be?!

    The only thing I kind of liked was the Back to the Future parody with Kurt Cobain’s cousin “Marvin” giving him a call about the kind of music he should play. Nothing great, but it was cute.

    • “The only thing I kind of liked was the Back to the Future parody with Kurt Cobain’s cousin “Marvin” giving him a call about the kind of music he should play. Nothing great, but it was cute.”

      Already done by Family Guy at this point. Twice.

      • That Marvin Cobain doesn’t even work as Nivarana was already established before the 90’s even began -.-

      • That’s another thing that rubs me the wrong way about this episode. The classic flashback episodes didn’t feel compelled to pull this kind of Forrest Gump crap with characters inadvertently having a huge impact on history. The fact that they did it with this one makes it feel even more hacky and insulting.

  3. The ULTIMATE zombiesode where they drop their pants and shit an the viewers for 30 mins (with loud commercials) and plus for bart to be 10 in 2008 (in this shitty timeline) that sex would have to happen in 1997 not 1999! JESUS TAPDANCING CHRIST ITS JUST LAME 90’S CLICHÉS AND REFERENCE LITTERED AROUND dial-up modems, seinfeld, beanie babies erm im sure beanie babies are mid to late 90’s….. UGH WHY THE FUCK WOULD THEY WRITE THIS SHIT HOMER AND MARGE NEVER WENT TO UNIVERSITY homer was a slacker manchild working the windmill blades in 1980 ugh seriously what a freakin shitheap of a shitty episode!

  4. – 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.

    YES A MILLION TIMES YES PISS SHITTY POOR WRITING AND APPROVAL FROM PROFESSIONAL ASSHOLE AL JEAN!

    – 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!!

    in typical zombie simpsons beat you over the head with it attitude!

    – “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.

    too late with the “jokes” zs too fucking late

    – 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.

    at least they respected continuity but not enough to show homer working there! but more jerkass homer and marge that ZS loves to churn out UGH the episode to top this off in shitness will be mypods and boomsticks or hell maybe even lisa the drama queen [shudders]

  5. Okay, I’ll bite. (And I’m not hiding my name because of the subject, I’ve always been “Anonymous” on this blog.) This is kind of a bad episode, complete with all the standard Zombie Simpsons flat jokes, time killing filler, and characters not acting like themselves. But I don’t think it’s significantly below the Season 19 average, and I’m not sure why it inspires such hatred.

    Because it’s a flashback episode, and it changes the show’s continuity? Flashback episodes have never been consistent; Homer and Marge’s wedding is depicted differently every single time. We’ve never seen anything of their early twenties before, and I couldn’t believe I’d never realized what the kids (Lisa?) pointed out: there’s a lot of unaccounted years between high school and their wedding/Bart’s birth.

    Because flashback episodes used to be the highlight of the season, and now they’ve run the concept into the ground? I could buy that, but nobody’s complaining this much about recent Treehouses of Horror.

    Because the ’90s references were inconsistent with each other? I feel like that has to have been on purpose, like when American Dad did it… the year the episode takes place was every year of the ’90s at once, parodying how lesser movies about the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s are always so horribly researched. But maybe I’m giving the writers too much credit.

    Highlights:
    -Bart: “The ’90s? Never heard of it.” Great lampshading (of the sliding timeline) without dragging out the joke for once.
    -“Mom, why did you stop talking for two and a half minutes?” Same thing.
    -As you said, “He who is tired of Weird Al is tired of life.”
    -Marge not realizing Homer’s needle contained insulin… maybe the only genuinely clever moment.

    Everyone’s giving this a low F… I give it a C-/D+. A very odd grade to defend, but I’m trying to understand why this is a remarkably bad episode, because I don’t see it.

    • Because the ’90s references were inconsistent with each other? I feel like that has to have been on purpose, like when American Dad did it… the year the episode takes place was every year of the ’90s at once, parodying how lesser movies about the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s are always so horribly researched. But maybe I’m giving the writers too much credit.

      Actually that American Dad episode is considered one of the worst of the show due to the inconsistency the ep. aired in 2012 but showing stan and fran’s wedding happening in 1996 despite hayley being 18 and them being married 20 years and yes you were giving the hacky “writers” too much credit…

      -Bart: “The ’90s? Never heard of it.” Great lampshading (of the sliding timeline) without dragging out the joke for once.

      Part of my childhood was butchered hearing that line and it sharted on continuity big time esp with do the bartman in 1991

      Lastly you didn’t see the 70’s and 80’s flashback eps rely on references for the sake of it they kept grounded in 1974, 1980 and 1984 plus homer and marge should be about 35 not 38.

  6. It’s not the continuity problems that bug me about this episode. If they could have found a way to stick young Homer and Marge in the ’90s and have it make sense, I’d be all for it. I hate this one because the characters don’t even resemble themselves. Homer is not the kind of guy who could invent or even enjoy grunge music. Homer likes monster truck shows and Grand Funk Railroad. Irony and self-loathing? From Homer? Yeah fucking right.

  7. This episode is bad in general, but what really gets my goat is how they try to fix continuity issues that never existed in the first place.

    Bart (questioning that Marge went to college): “You always said that after high school Dad “blessed” you with the unplanned miracle of me!”

    Lisa (apparently shocked): “You know, Mom and Dad are almost 40 and Bart is only 10 – that means you didn’t have him until way after high school!”

    Since when was it established continuity that Marge got pregnant after high school?! In ‘I Married Marge’ Homer and Marge are both 24. This is explicitly said in the opening and implied by the fact that it’s set in 1980, 6 years after ‘The Way We Was’ in 1974. There was already plenty of room to shove in a dumb and pointless “Marge goes to college’ flashback story. (Even though that makes no sense because in ‘Marge Gets a Job’ Marge says she doesn’t have any higher qualifications.)

    The reason H&M’s current age is now 39 rather than 34 (as it was established circa ‘Some Enchanted Evening’) is because they wanted to make Homer being over half his life expectancy a dumb plot point in ‘The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace’. This is a continuity hiccup that in no way affects whether Marge had time to go to college and could easily have been ignored. But no, instead we have Homer and Marge explaining to the kids that they lied to them about when they got married for no reason – even though they actually didn’t.

    I guess watching the first 5 minutes of one episode is more research than modern Simpsons writers are willing to do. They should have had faith that the classic writers cared more about continuity than they did; it’s not like they set the bar very high.

    • Yeah, it was never the case that Marge got pregnant right out of high school. These terrible fucking writers couldn’t even be bothered to spend the 22 minutes necessary to watch the episode they were “fixing”

      Fuck this show

  8. I think Mike gave a great review and everyone had some valid points on here esp. Jack and Anonymous and I really enjoyed this episode. It brought back good memories to me (I was a kid/pre teen in the 1990’s btw) of Seinfeld, Friends, Windows 98 (for some reason) Nirvana, Weird Al’s music videos, Boyz II Men, etc. and it was a great time capsule/flashback episode imo.

    I give it a B+ or 3.5 stars out of five. It just made me feel nostalgic for the 90’s again I guess. Before the 9/11 attacks, when everything changed, when President Bill Clinton was in office and, yes, he mace a few mistakes in his life, but damn, he was a good President, whom almost killed OBL but the missile that was launched missed OBL by a few minutes or something like that.

    On a side note, I can tell most of the writer’s on The Simpsons (besides Matt Groening, people keep telling me he is gay, I have no idea) hate liberals and Democrats. hate religion, hate paying taxes, hate giving anything to charity, hate poor people, hate gays and hate cats, hate Fox, etc. (besides us fans of course that they also hate with a passion) and are probably Republicans and conservatives (atheist ones I take it) who want tax breaks. They should have written for MAD or Cracked magazines instead of a popular TV show, the current writers that is and Al Jean as well.

    • The 90’s were awesome no doubt about that 😀 but the simpsons was known for being well structured and grounded in reality and also speaking of the Be-Sharps episode they kept it grounded in 1985 instead of shoving 80’s references hear and there for the sake of it.

    • I would hope MAD and Cracked would have higher standards than to hire Al Jean and his cronies.

    • Well, if you like good old memories of the 90s why don’t you just watch Classic Simpsons episodes then? they are the PERFECT 90s show, in every aspect. Oh wait.. you must just like random references like the writers, right?

  9. Excuse my typo. I meant made not mace.

  10. I still regard this episode as one of the worst ever. It actually was the worst for some time. Then I watched the Lady Gaga one. Ugh.

  11. I have never seen this episode, but I think I should. I write and draw a comic strip that’s set in the 1990s and utilizes a lot of pop culture humor, and I feel like I need to study this one so I know what NOT to do.

    Just looking at the breadth of ’90s cultural references they make in this episode, I can tell it’s a shallow imitation of far superior flashback episodes from years past. Episodes like “The Way We Was” and “I Married Marge” were set in a specific year, but this show seems to treat the ’90s as a vague, all-encompassing period where everything existed at once. Like Mike mentioned, we have Beanie Babies, the Soup Nazi, and the birth of grunge music all happening at the same time.

    Also like Mike, I’m baffled as to why the writers made this episode. Was it just to make ’90s references? Did they think it’d be “ironic” ’cause the show pretty much defined the 1990s in its glory days? Or did they just fuck with the timeline to piss us all off? I wouldn’t put either one past them.

  12. The floating timeline is pretty screwy and paradoxical by now, with multiple birthdays/ Christmases / first days of school, Homer having a 60’s hippie mom, middle-aged Skinner being a Vietnam war veteran, etc. I’m not that angered by the “continuity-destroying” as some, but the problem is the writers blatantly calling attention to the messed up timeline, and trying to be meta about it, and falling flat in the process.

    As annoying as the episode is about continuity, that’s not even what I hate most about it. Ultimately, it’s just ANOTHER soulless relationship crisis episode. Except this time, I really hate Marge, whereas I usually hate Homer in this type of episode. So, some points for originality? She just comes off as so very naive, and a selfish bitch. Dumping Homer, who’s sacrificing himself in a shitty job at the laser place to support her education, and instantly falling for the obviously douchey professor? Really? But it’s still not as bad as the next flashback episode, which has both Homer and Marge nearly having affairs for the flimsiest reasons. I hate this show. Down there with My Big Fat Geek Wedding and Bonfire of the Manatees as one of the worst episodes.

  13. Lets see. If Jack’s numbers from above are right (they sound right, so I’m just gonna go with it)…
    The Way We Was = senior prom in ’74
    I Married Marge = Bart’s conception/H&M get married in ’80
    Lisa’s First Word = Bart hitting his terrible twos and Lisa’s birth in ’83

    That would mean that not only would homer and marge have had at least TWO kids (if not three) by the time this piece of crap episode supposedly took place, homer would already have had a job at the power plant, and Bart would have been ten.

    Lets say, for whatever reason, all previous flashback episodes were wrong and all a big lie. If the prom is our kernel of truth, homer and marge would have been almost 40 in the 90s. If the prom is not the kernel of truth, how the fuck old are these people anymore?!

    I’ve already given more thought to this than ZS writers.

    It’s one thing to do an episode that takes place in the 90s and use as many 90s tongue-in-cheek references as possible. It’s quite another to shit all over a storyline that longtime fans have come to know, love, and respect. They could have had literally ANY other story line. Instead they decided to throw loyal dedicated fans a giant FUCK YOU, complete with a 12-story high middle finger. 22 minutes of flipping us the bird.

    Fuck you, ZS.

  14. You know how I know these are hack writers? Because Nirvana’s “Rape Me” is about the easiest song in the world to parody. It’s essentially a parody unto itself. You can change it to almost anything and make it a “parody.” So what do these writers do? Change it to “Shave Me.” I mean…just wow. This is professional comedy? A 10-year-old could come up with that.

  15. Compare this ep. to Meet the Quagmires from Family Guy yes Zapped was released in 1982 but they kept to 1984 more than ZS did with the 90’s… and why the lame Nivarana parody why not just show the 6 missing years from high school to Marge pregnant with Bart…

  16. This is garbage from beginning to end, obviously, and certainly one of the worst. Although I think some of the post-Amato review era stuff might be even lower. I’m in the UK and just seen Politically Inept With Homer Simpson, and it’s genuinely the worst thing I’ve ever seen. And not just on television. I had wanted Mike to keep going past #444, but now I think that would be a matter for the UN.

    • Is that the one where Homer puts the gravy bucket on his head? That’s one of the worst, for sure. I dislike this one a lot more though.

    • I saw that episode too and it sucked major balls and maybe Mike MIGHT sacrifise just for the lols he might go ahead and give us better entertainment in his reviews than the shitty ep. and that crappy ep was e somethingsomething ralphum look decent…

  17. Awful episode!

    Anyone find it funny that it has a Nirvana parody and the remaining members of Nirvana reunited for a benefit show for the first time in 20 years, on the same date this review was posted. Eerie stuff like that happens all that time with these reviews, being written on really relevant dates.

    • “He who is tired of Weird Al is tired of life.”

      That is a pretty good quote, actually. Though it is eclipsed by King of the Hill..

      BOBBY: I just sang a song parody, Dad. Like Weird Al Yankovic!
      HANK: …Son, Al Yank-o-VICH blew his brains out in the late ’80s after people stopped buying his albums…

      Oh and.. BOBBY: I see things clearly now. I’m going to grow up without anyone to love, and die friendless and alone like Weird Al Yankovic.

  18. The most noteworthy thing about this episode is that Professor August looks like Vayne Solidor from Final Fantasy XII.

  19. I have two viewpoints on this episode.

    #1 – The first time I saw it, I thought it was hilarious. The jokes were great, I love the Cobain cousin calling Kurt joke, as that was pretty unique and original. I love Homer’s comment on Weird Al. And, it really made fun of the 90s, which was great.

    #2 – When I rewatched this episode earlier this summer, after watching all of the seasons just a few weeks prior, I could not believe how bad the episode was. In fact, I never knew this episode was so hated until then either. It was just as you said, pointless, as the show was already parodying the 90s for half of its run. It was like they took these little insignificant bits of the 90s that could not work as their own full episodes and threw it into one flashback episode, while kind of screwing up the continuity (not that there really is any continuity in the show)

  20. I feel like I should add my two cents, considering this is often considered the worst episode of the entire series. Is it a bad episode? Yes. Does it deserve all of the bile it gets? Yeah, but not to the level I often see. Let’s face it, in a series as long-running as “The Simpsons”, the floating timeline is an issue that’s gonna happen one way or another. Tony Stark was originally injured in the Vietnam War, but you don’t see people complain about updating his origin (or at least I haven’t). I think the issue people have with the episode is two things; one, it seems to retcon fan-favorite episodes like “The Way We Was”, “Lisa’s First Word” & “Homer’s Barbershop Quartet” since those episodes took place in the 80’s. The other issue is that this episode wants to parody the culture of the 90’s, despite the fact that “The Simpsons” helped define that decade. It seems redundant to redo what the golden age of the show did so well. Personally, I took more issue with the plot itself; the professor was an annoying character and Marge being attracted to him for incredibly stupid reasons. Is this episode awful? Yes. But I don’t think it deserves the level of revulsion that rivals that of Lovecraftian horrors.

  21. SADGASM = Simpsons Are Done Gee America Sorry Matt

  22. The thing I hate most about the last ten years of the Simpsons is how they’ve stuck to making every stupid storyline they want to do a Simpsons-centered story. If they really want to do a story about college kids and grunge music, can they not do it with other characters? We don’t know much about the backstories of a lot of the side characters (Snake, CBG, Frink, Otto, Lenny, Carl, Gil, Barney, Brockman, Smithers, etc) and it could have been easy to show the story with those characters, keep the Simpsons in there as side characters so as not to fuck up continuity, and do the same stupid jokes. I’ve been thinking this would have worked with almost every stupid story from the last ten years or so, and I’m confused why they didn’t go that direction.

    I was just thinking this when I watched last Sunday’s abomination where they fucked with Grandpa’s past. They couldn’t have done the same story with Jasper but still had the Simpsons around? It wouldn’t have been that hard and it would have made the episode a helluva lot better.

  23. My view on this episode is that is was just trying to satire the 90’s and that you shouldn’t take the ‘timeline’ to seriously. I man, if some of the timelines above are correct, Homer and Marge must be….60?
    I think the writers were trying to fill some sort of gap. Alright, maybe for the diehard fans who care about it I can see how this episode might piss them off, but I feel the hatred is too big.
    The Weird Al bit was hilarious and I kinda like the songs of Sadgasm, because they were so grungy sad lol.

  24. i refuse to speak about this episode lest it feel me with murderous rage

  25. Aaron A Aaronson

    Undoubtably the worse episode ever. Utterly fucking terrible.

  26. They used 2 songs (“Closing Time ” by Semisonic and “Bittersweet Symphony” by The Verve) for a grand total of ten seconds. Hell, they don’t even play the words to them. I saw no fucking point to them being there except “hey, these are 90’s songs! Remember them? Huh? Do ya?!?!”

  27. “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.”

    Plus, ya know, Kurt died in 1994, so there’s that….

    Sadgasm isn’t even a good grunge name. It’s too ironically self-aware. That’s more of an early 2000s indie thing.

  28. OutsideTheCity

    There weren’t too many things I liked at all about this episode in particular, though I thought it was kinda cool that in a very brief shot of Marge’s college class, it shows characters such as the Blue-Haired Lawyer as a student, which was surprising since he’s really got no revealed name or story of his own as a character. This episode just had too many repetitive pop-culture references for me, though. :-\

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s