511. Adventures in Baby-Getting

Original airdate: November 4, 2012

The premise:
Marge gets the urge for another baby, and Homer keeps quiet about his opposition due to his crippling inability to talk to his wife. Meanwhile, Bart and the other boys try to figure out where Lisa is going after school and the cryptic clues she’s left behind.

The reaction: So here’s an episode that, when you break it down, has a very simple premise about a married couple disagreeing about a big decision: Homer doesn’t want to disappoint his wife, so he goes along with her desires to have a fourth child. Through their failed efforts, he feigns disappointment, while still hiding his true feelings. Homer, of course, is sterile thanks to the nuclear power plant, but Moe reminds him about donations he had previously made to the Shelbyville sperm bank before Bart was born (how the hell would he know this?!)
On the trip there, Homer delays things by taking her down a tourist trap-ridden stretch of road, leading to a fun day out for the two. Previously, Marge had proclaimed that being a mom was all her life was good for, so in creating this distraction, it almost seemed like Homer was accidentally making Marge realize that she could have her own fun and fulfilling life outside of doting on her children. But I think that was unintentional. When the truth finally comes out, he’s very… callous about it (“I was just being a good husband, by pretending to agree with you while secretly undermining your agenda.”) By the final act, I’m annoyed with both of them; Homer made his own bed by not being truthful to his wife, and Marge acts uncharacteristically brash and abrasive through most of the episode. At a diner, Homer oversees a happy four-child family and flip-flops his opinion, a manipulative, cliche device that the show in its prime would have mercilessly mocked. The same can be said for his overly saccharine speech to Marge at the clinic (“The table with four legs is sturdier than the table with three. Cubes are made of cheese, but pyramids are schemes, and anything that’s half you is guaranteed at least 50% perfect.”) Who talks like that? Then we get to the creepy ending, where Marge sees a gigantic wall of babies born of Homer’s sperm samples, and they both conclude that the world doesn’t need any more Homers. Not only is this very disturbing (and a joke the show has already made before with Barney), but it’s not really a resolution of Marge’s story. She wants another baby, but ultimately decides not to because her husband’s seed has already spread far and wide without her knowing. So in the end, Homer got what he wanted. I think. Oh, whatever.

Three items of note:
– The lead-in toward Marge’s baby revelation is incredibly belabored, the likes we haven’t seen from first acts in quite a while. Homer ignores fixing the leaky faucet in the yard for so long, its endless drips have eroded much of the earth beneath Springfield, resulting in a spread of sinkholes. Marge’s car falls into one, but she has a sinkhole preparedness kit, which is a gigantic inflatable staircase that leads them back to the surface. I guess it’s just good fortune that the sinkhole was exactly as deep as that staircase was tall. Marge and the kids fall down the hole, and then everything’s okay; there’s no danger or seriousness to this segment, it’s just an empty plot device to force Marge to have to buy a new car. Going for a test drive, Homer makes an offhand comment about how the car is the perfect size for their three-child family, and then, on a dime, Marge becomes incredibly uncomfortable and ultra-critical about problems with the car that don’t exist. It turns out it’s a psychological result of her wanting to have another kid. I get what they were going for with this, but it was handled very flimsily to me.
– The B-story might be the most boring one to date. Not seeing her get on the bus after school, Bart spies Lisa getting into a cab and leaving behind a strange note. He enlists the other boys to try to figure out these strange clues and find out Lisa’s secret. In the end, it turns out she’s taking an after school class in writing cursive. Wow. It’s just so dull. So, so, so dull. Was this story written on a scrap they found under the writer’s room table?
– I know I already mentioned the ending, but it is really unsettling. The Barney gag from “Selma’s Choice” was quick, involving a humorous side character, and was in and out before you dwelt too long on the gross implications. Here, it features Homer, and we pan over the wall full of photos of his dozens of bastard children with serious music playing. Unlike “Choice,” the fact that we’re focusing on this more makes me think about it more. Not only is this clinic using the same man’s sperm over and over, they have a wall of similar-looking children proudly boasting this fact. What wanna-be parents would look at this and think it was okay? Or want the sample of a self-professed high school dropout with the fake name “Thad Supersperm” to begin with? Then we end with the family enjoying a drive-in movie parked next to a family with seven Homer babies. Creepy, not funny, and, oh yeah, CREEPY.

One good line/moment: There were actually a few good gags in here. I liked at the arctic themed motel where Marge mistaking the stuffed walrus for her husband. Homer pushes the toy aside (“I’ll take it from here, wing man!”) Their little detour trip was quite sweet; it again led me to believe this was going to be a character progression moment for Marge… until that didn’t happen.

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13 responses to “511. Adventures in Baby-Getting

  1. The Anonymous Nobody

    Just at a curiosity, have there been any episodes you’ve found good since the start of season 22? I’ve read every review since then and I don’t remember seeing anything noticeably positive.

    • There’s some parts of certain episodes I thought worked or were funny, but I don’t think I’ve seen an episode I would consider overall good since… Eternal Moonshine, maybe?

  2. Prepare for the revelation of the next episode (Involving the Grampa). Not as bad as Homer’s kids, but it is equally useless.

  3. American dad handled this type of episode a hell of a lot better!

  4. As you’ve mentioned numerous times, the fact that there’s been nearly three decades worth of stories and the characters haven’t aged has created a weird tension where characters oscillate between acting closer to their “true” age based on how long they’ve been on the air and their given ages. The motivation for this kind of story would make a ton more sense if Marge was pre-menopausal and Maggie wasn’t still obstinately an infant. It’s similar to the last Bart episode where he’s gone through more girlfriends than most adults, but he doesn’t “really like” girls yet, but he totally will someday. Before this trainwreck of a show finally dies, the writers should try one season with everyone drastically aged and see if makes churning out a worthwhile product any easier.

    “Then we end with the family enjoying a drive-in movie parked next to a family with seven Homer babies.”
    I kinda want to find a screenshot, but at the same time… I really don’t.

    • Aaron Grierson

      • Wow, I forget how terrible the new Simpsons really looks. Just compare that still’s sterility to the equivalent with Barney’s sperm donor baby: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/mrfSHRZf410/0.jpg

      • Yeah, half those babies look copied and pasted from the other half. The HD era has not been kind of the show’s art.

        And I understand it’s in service of a cheap, shitty joke for an audience which apparently needs every joke as evident and easy as possible, but why would all the kids have Homer hair when none of his actual kids have it and he himself didn’t have it as a child. It obviously represents adult-onset male pattern baldness. Hope fired for blunder, etc.

      • Kaiju no Kami

        I don’t get the hate on the for the animation. No, it is not going to look as good as the older stuff because those were animated by hand. People actually had to have skill back then and litterally put their blood, sweat, and tears into the animation. Today, everything is on autopilot so that even a caveman could animate a show.

  5. I am so glad you are back, because I share the same feelings about this show and especially the post-classic era–in particular the HD era.

    Though I will attest there are some that aren’t terrible, they are just so forgettable overall I can’t remember them. Still nothing that qualifies as classic.

    Then again, I have officially given up this season ever since I saw “The Fland Canyon” in late season 27. I have not watched a new one since and I had been following the show from 1994.

    • The Anonymous Nobody

      You had been watching new episodes for 22 years? Damn, I probably would have given up during the Scully era.

      • I did give up briefly during the beginning of Season 13, but caught up shortly after to buzz of Al Jean taking over as showrunner and the false hope of a series comeback.

        I ended up catching up part out of nostalgia and part out of witnessing the series’ trainwreck of a decay, but even that has just gotten boring.

      • Kaiju no Kami

        I’ve been watching the show since Tree House of Horror II’s premier. That was my first episode and I am still watching it as it airs. Yes, it’s subpar, but I’ve been watching it this long, I need to see it through to the end.

        I’ve kind of given up on caring about the quality of the show and am happy if I at least laugh twice an episode. When I want to watch amazing episodes, I’ll watch my DVDs of Seasons 1-9.

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