Original airdate: January 8, 2012
The premise: A viral video of Homer going nuts about mistreatment on an airplane gets him his own political talk show, where he blusters on about traditional values and small town American rights. His nonsensical, ill-informed rhetoric becomes so influential that he gets tapped to pick the Republican presidential nominee, famous rocker and insane person Ted Nugent.
The reaction: Boy, this is a real time capsule of an episode. Sort of. Some elements of it still feel depressingly relevant in our current dumpster fire of a political climate, but boy oh boy, Homer as Glenn Beck? Once again, despite Krusty’s cries two episodes ago about looking dated and hacky, the show doesn’t seem to care. And also once again, South Park beat them to the punch by two years. But let’s look into this a bit more. That episode featured Cartman becoming the new morning announcer at the school, and abusing his power by attacking the student body president because he doesn’t like her personally. He became a Glenn Beck expy, but all in a way that was in line with his character; Cartman loves attention and relishes being in a position of power, and he’s also a huge asshole. So what do we have from The Simpsons? Well, Homer goes nuts on an airplane, grabbing the intercom and spouting some nonsense about customer’s rights. He then goes on a cable news show and shouts that he speaks for the honest Joe American, which then leads to him getting his own show, where he becomes Glenn Beck Lite. Why is he doing this? He’s talking out his ass extolling good ol’ boy American values, but as Castellaneta marries his Homer voice with a Beck impression, I just don’t understand what Homer’s point is or his goal. Through the episode, he flip flops between his original impassioned airplane speech, then claiming he’s just playing a character, to an advocate for the little guy, to actually wanting to implement change, and the ending involves him not able to buy into his own bullshit anymore and giving up his fame. So much of this episode is nonsensical and unfunny, but the core of it absolutely does not work when I can’t figure out the main character’s motivation throughout the entire episode. They wanted to do a Glenn Beck parody, and they squeezed Homer into that box so they could do it. So topical. Except not.
Three items of note:
– The opening at the airport feels even more dated than the Glenn Beck plot line. Making fun of TSA regulations and security checks in 2012?
– The whole gravy boat thing I guess is referencing the Tea Party? Except the show doesn’t do anything with that. The show had some juicy material at their disposal lampooning that movement, or just the idea of a TV loudmouth holding that much influence and using it irresponsibly, but they reduce it to just one line that Lisa says to push the plot forward. The gravy movement thing is pretty much squandered, with screen time instead used for some elaborate fake dream to sway Homer back to reality. Bleh.
– I feel pretty stymied by this episode, it’s hard to come up with what to talk about. When we get to the point where Ted Nugent seems to be living at the Simpson house for some reason, I just don’t even know where to begin. Why is he here? What’s he promoting? He shoots an arrow into Flanders’ forehead, and then later shoots a bunch of kids into the air from his bow, and nobody bats an eye. I guess he’s just craaaaaayyy-zeeeeee so it’s fine? I dunno. This one was just really fucking confusing.
One good line/moment: Oh, I don’t know… Brockman’s headline for the gravy moment “Au Jus-tice For All!” was cute. …that’s all I got.