Original airdate: April 15, 2012
The premise: Jimbo threatens Bart into being his surrogate to take his girlfriend Shauna to all the things he doesn’t want to go to, which results in a weird, inappropriate relationship between them. Meanwhile, Homer buys an expensive treadmill only so he can binge watch a LOST “parody” on its built-in TV.
The reaction: “Doesn’t anyone here realize I’m only ten years old?” Bart quips halfway through the episode. I feel like he’s addressing the writers here, because this is yet another instance of putting Bart in a situation better suited for a high school story, probably the most extreme one yet. I usually try to avoid direct compare and contrasts to past episodes, but seeing as this is the second show featuring Bart’s infatuation with an older girl who’s dating Jimbo, that’s just far too specific to not have in my mind. Ah yes, “New Kid on the Block,” airing nearly twenty years earlier, featured Bart’s youthful crush on cool new neighbor Laura Powers, who impresses him with her knowledge of schoolyard pranks and ability to use bullies’ mind tricks against them. On the other hand, who is Shauna, Jimbo’s new flame? A teen skank? We don’t get much out of her other than her occasional flirtatious nature, so Bart’s interest in her is nowhere near as believable as Laura’s was. Also, the set-up: Jimbo has Bart spend time with Shauna because he’s a non-threatening “pre-puber,” and Shauna initially thought he was a second grader, but halfway through the episode she flashes him her boobs and they start secretly making out. Gross gross groooosssss. The bullies’ ages have always been nebulous (Kearney is a father, after all), but Shauna seems like she’s probably fourteen, fifteen max? Locking lips with a kid? Weird. And as we’ve seen in the past, Bart oscillates from acting like a little boy to an older kid with a girlfriend, from happily going up and down the slide to eagerly anticipating his next make-out sess. Halfway through, they have an extended section where Bart appears to be slightly traumatized after being flashed, but this is dropped pretty quickly after he, for some reason, urges Shauna she can do better than Jimbo. Maybe the episode could have been about Bart not wanting to grow up so fast, like his own “Lard of the Dance.” Instead we get him playing mouth hockey with a girl in a two-piece bathing suit who looks like a high schooler. I repeat: gross gross GROSS.
Three items of note:
– The B-plot is pretty boring. Once again, the show is late to the party, as LOST went off the air two years earlier. I imagine this story came about from one of the writers binge-watching the show after not having watched it first run. So Homer very quickly just stops using the treadmill, and Marge, for some reason, is too much of a dope to figure out the obvious truth (“I guess the weight will come off all at once one day in the future!”) She’s upset when she finds Homer just watching TV in the basement, then later she’s not mad when she wants to have sex when the kids are out of the house, but Homer is too engrossed in the show. She ends up blurting out spoilers for the series finale, and then in the last scene, as Homer previously was murmuring to himself about killing his wife for spoiling a TV show for him, Marge gives her husband LOST-themed sexy times and it’s all okay. I’m not even upset about Homer getting rewarded after being a jackass because the plot is barely developed enough to be mad about. Also, we get a scene with Jimbo dangling Bart out of the treehouse outside the open master bedroom window. So I guess Marge is aware her son is being physically abused, and Bart and Jimbo can see her in her negligee about to have sex with Homer, and both parties are cool with that. Why not.
– The opening act features a beginning that explains too much, and an end than explains too little. Bart and Milhouse run into the bullies and Shauna at the movie theater. Dolph explains they’re going to see a foreign horror movie while pointing at the poster, who then just explains all the jokes that are written on the poster. Meanwhile, Shauna mentions she wants to see a Jennifer Aniston movie where she rolls her eyes on the poster, then gestures to a movie poster where you see that. This whole section feels like it’s out of Big Bang Theory or something, this stilted sitcom-level over-explaining dialogue. You’re almost waiting for the laugh track to show up. Later on, Bart gets Shauna out of trouble with mall security by taking the fall for her shoplifting. He’s worried about getting beat up by Jimbo, but it just seems like such weak motivation, especially considering earlier this season the bullies were his lackeys in that Teddy Roosevelt episode. Then, there’s an explosion inside mall jail and Bart just runs out. No explanation whatsoever, they couldn’t even be bothered to write a joke for that moment, just move on, no one will care.
– The dinner table scene with Bart seeing breasts everywhere is such easy material. The cookies with chocolate nipples, Grampa offering (chicken) breasts and calling him a boob… like, so, so easy. It just reminds me of that great scene in “Duffless,” the Clockwork Orange parody where Bart’s reaching for the cupcakes and falls to the floor, traumatized. I have no fucking idea how they got away with a joke like that in 1993. To go from that to this kind of amateur hour is pretty sad to me.
One good line/moment: Though it definitely runs twice as long as it probably should, the Bill Plympton couch gag was pretty entertaining. Seeing Homer fuck his beloved couch, have a little chair baby, and it attempt suicide by throwing itself in the maw of a garbage truck as its baby is in tears was pretty shocking stuff, but in a good way, in my opinion.