446. The Devil Wears Nada

ImageOriginal airdate: November 15, 2009

The premise: Mr. Burns instates Carl as new supervisor of sector 7G, which randomly turns him into a workaholic, which in turn leads to Homer running himself ragged as his assistant. Meanwhile, Marge finds herself feeling extry randy following a sexy photo shoot she did for a charity calendar, but is disappointed to find her husband too exhausted to ravage her. When Homer and Carl leave for a conference in France, Marge finds herself in a tempting situation with the most unlikeliest of men: Ned Flanders.

The reaction: A very perplexing episode. What was with hardass boss Carl? He and Lenny were never really super developed characters, but seeing him switch to overdrive like this was just weird to see. And apparently as a supervisor of one section of the plant, he’s sent overseas to manage major business deals with multiple other countries. And he leaves Homer in charge of his entire life? Rather than his natural ineptitude being used as comedy, Homer instead is only shown as exhausted for having to work so hard. Huh? Meanwhile Marge’s embarrassment over the calendar switches over into general horniness in one scene, and the other women in her club, and a brief runner over the school faculty torturing Bart over the pin-ups, are completely forgotten about for some reason. But most insulting of all is our ending, where we all have to humor the writers and pretend that the scenes with Marge and Flanders have some kind of dramatic tension. Are they going to have sex? Are they? No, of course fucking not. I can’t possibly think of a way that that could have worked.

Three items of note:
– The airdate of this show suspiciously correlates with Marge’s appearance in Playboy; the subject matter, even the chalkboard gag (“I do not have the hots for my mom”) seem to support some kind of tie-in. The whole Playboy thing just felt very wrong to me… beyond the content, it just felt like more of the show trying to grasp at any kind of media attention to still appear relevant, and what better way to do so in this all digital age than appearing in a print magazine? Why bother downloading a thousand vaginas instantly on your smart phone when you can walk down to a newsstand and ogle at drawings of a partially clad jaundiced woman?
– Nelson and Milhouse ogling Marge’s calendar to taunt Bart in class, while Mrs. Krabappel apparently sits and does nothing, was disturbing enough, but things get ramped up even more as Skinner and Chalmers do the same thing right in front of him. Super, super gross.
– Turns out Carl was flirting, and possibly slept with, the wife of the French President, and Homer wiggles out from under his grasp by calling his bluff about phoning the President and exposing the truth. So, Homer’s just got Nicholas Sarkozy on speed dial? Sure, why not? Apparently clips of the scenes featuring the first family of France went a bit viral overseas, but a spokesman for the Elysee Palace claimed they had no comment regarding the episode. Smart move.

One good line/moment: Two decent sign gags, Shot in the Face Photo Studio, and the giant billboard outside the window at the hotel Homer and Marge go to (Enjoy the Ocean View, Right Behind This Sign.)

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8 responses to “446. The Devil Wears Nada

  1. I think that the Carl-as-Boss plot could have worked better had it been its own episode rather than combine it with one of the worst Marge plots the series has ever done. The final act with Marge and Ned is just too disturbing, and I can’t say I buy it.

    But it’s not like any of this will carry over. Pretty sure Carl and Homer are back to their usual jobs the next time we see the Power Plant.

  2. Yeah, I’d forgotten the illogic of Homer being an efficient-but-overworked assistant to a suddenly power-crazed Carl, in the midst of one of the more memorably bad episodes the series has ever done. Proper F- material. (Still glad you’re doing this again, Mike?)

  3. The Marge/Ned stuff is just about as creepy as this show gets and completely out of character for both of them. At least Homer wasn’t a jerkass… ?

  4. I bought the Marge Simpson Playboy ’cause I thought it’d be a collectible or something. Actually, the interview was pretty funny, definitely more than this episode. (“Bart will never find out about this as long as he lives.”)

    This is a pretty sad look at the current state of the show. The writers can change characters’ entire personalities for the sake of a plot. “Need Carl to be a hard-assed workaholic this week so we can do a lame attempt at a The Devil Wears Prada parody? Sure, no problem. It’s not like we care about entertaining people anymore.”

  5. I see this episode and ask…. Why?

    Anyway, good review Mike.

  6. I’m pretty sure the tie-in with Playboy was explicit (heh). When Marge is flipping through the calendar, the photo that makes her say “I don’t remember taking this one” is a censored version of the Playboy one. At least, that’s how I remember it. It’s been a while.

  7. I remember reading that that the episode was written before they agreed on the Playboy piece, but once the Playboy thing went through they decided to air this episode to coincide with it.

    Crap episode. Crap “photo” spread, for that matter.

  8. Wasn’t Carl Homer’s supervisor way back before Homer became safety inspector? I seem to recall him stating as much in an early episode (I’m thinking either the bloodc transfusion one or “Last Exit”).

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