540. Married to the Blob

Original airdate: January 12, 2014

The premise: 
Comic Book Guy meets the girl of his dreams, Japanese manga artist Kumiko, but their relationship comes under fire when her father arrives to take her back home.

The reaction: I guess it’s time for Comic Book Guy to get the Moe treatment of making an angry, miserable character look sad and pathetic, and for the writers to throw him a bone. CBG feels like a legacy character whose satirical role is pretty nebulous in modern times. This cynical, sarcastic basement-dwelling nerd character was novel in 1990, but at this point, “nerds” in society have branched off into so many different tropes that CBG just feels like a catch-all for everything. He’s a movie critic, a hacker, a gamer, a social outcast, an otaku… and now a husband, apparently. This show has thrown love interests to a variety of our cast of characters over the course of two decades, some very memorable, but a lot disposable, but the lady in question here, Kumiko, is the absolute worst of them all. Not only does she have absolutely no personality, and no motivation to find CBG likable, let alone attractive, but she just says everything she’s thinking and feeling aloud to push the story forward. As usual with this fucking show, it’s tell not show, and this episode feels like the greatest offender I can think of in recent memory. Kumiko walks in CBG’s shop, and immediately introduces who she is and what she’s doing, pulling out a copy of her autobiographical manga that she says she’s working on, but apparently is already finished. Why is she visiting America’s saddest cities? Later on their first date, CBG tries to stifle his critical nature, but Kumiko defuses the tension immediately (“Oh, I don’t mind. If you think it’s stupid, say it’s stupid.” “America nerd snark is the finest in the world!”) Cut to montage, then cut to her moving in with CBG. This goes beyond male fantasy or wish fulfillment, Kumiko is effectively a Relationship Sue. She just really really likes CBG. Why? Because she says she does. That’s it. The real “conflict” arises when her father arrives at the Android’s Dungeon and takes her away when she finds out she’s living with a gross nerd. So, besides the surface level overbearing Asian father stereotype, what’s this about? What is Kumiko’s relationship with her dad? She gave him the comic book store address but apparently never told him about CBG? Did she lie about who he was? Why? Again, none of that is explained. Homer gets him drunk and he has an epiphany or something, and then the show ends with him in a robot suit for no explainable reason for his daughter’s wedding. Did they cut a scene explained why exactly he’s in a goddamn motherfucking robot suit? Is it to show acceptance of CBG’s lifestyle? And I guess his daughter’s too? She’s a manga artist, but she and CBG never even talk about comics at all. Or any nerd stuff. Who is she? This show has numbed me a lot at this point, but this episode really does feel like one of the worst I’ve ever seen. A needless relationship that I can’t even call underdeveloped, because that would imply there was any development at all. It’s a show full of characters talking about things, rather than actually showing them. CBG says Kumiko is moving in, but we don’t see their cohabitation. Instead we cut to Marge telling Homer to deliver a housewarming gift, where he can have a conversation with Kumiko’s father outside to review the story we saw in a montage, and for him to spout out his expository dialogue. None of the characters’ motivations or emotions are necessary to connect with or to understand apparently, as long as you just have them say them out loud, that’s good enough.

Three items of note:
– To make CBG feel like a loser, they bring back Milo, the owner of the cool comic book shop from “Husbands and Knives,” an episode from over five seasons before, then voiced by Jack Black, now voiced by Maurice LaMarche. But don’t worry, on-screen text pops up to remind you who this guy is, in case you forgot. I remember being annoyed in that episode featured a first act of their rivalry resulting in CBG closing the Android’s Dungeon, but that plot being completely abandoned in favor of another stupid Homer-Marge bullshit story. This is their attempt to modernize their nerd stereotype, but with him talking about his “comic-tolerating” girlfriend, and that Comic-Con nets an 8% female audience, it still feels stuck in the past. CBG is left to stew in his own sadness… sigh… in song
(“The only thing that could make this moment more cliched is if I started to sing about my feelings… and here I go.”) So, again, they know it’s terrible, but they do it again. They have to know how bad this shit is. And the song is just awful, par for the course with the recent examples we’ve seen. Milo gets in a verse as well, so I’m assuming they definitely wanted to get Jack Black back for this, but I guess he was busy. Or he read the script and threw up in disgust. They should’ve gotten Jess Harnell in to do his Jack Black impression, like for the last episode of The Powerpuff Girls.
– CBG and Kumiko have their first date at Chuck Dukewagon’s All-American Chow Lounge, a set piece that feels like a pale imitation of “Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo”‘s AmericaTown. Also, seeing Pimply Faced Teen dressed as Guy Fieri fills me with many rage-filled emotions.
– Homer and Kumiko’s father get drunk of rice wine, which leads to a two minute joint hallucination where their surroundings transform into a Studio Ghibli tribute, featuring recreations of iconic characters and moments from their movies. It’s another self-indulgent set piece of them just imitating a popular thing or someone else’s style, in the hopes that they can get some positive Internet buzz and a bunch of articles of “The Simpsons Pays Tribute to Hayao Miyazmi and It’s Amazing!” But, as always, there are no jokes. It just comes off as nonsensical and pandering. Why “parody” something if you have absolutely no take on it, other than we love this thing and we want to animate a sequence like this thing that we love. Who gives a flying fuck?

One good line/moment: The Radioactive Man sequence at the beginning was mildly entertaining. Even if it also was full of characters just spouting exposition, it felt a little less hackneyed in that context. It features some above-average animation for this show, and certainly was much more enjoyable than that reboot nonsense we saw in the last episode.

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17 responses to “540. Married to the Blob

  1. I’m almost tempted to watch this to see if it’s as bad as it sounds or makes any more sense with whatever scant context the episode provides.
    Similar to when Lisa shows sporadic attraction to Milhouse for no apparent reason, I wonder if the writers see themselves as Milhouse/Comic Book Guy or if that’s how they would characterize their audience; is it wish fulfillment for them, or are they thinking, “Ha ha, the fat nerds who still watch this crap will love that our fat nerd found himself the woman of his/their fat, sad dreams.”

  2. Ironically this one makes the self-titled Worst Episode Ever look top class

    • ForbiddenDonut

      It is strange that CBG’s relationship with Agnes is more realistic and developed than what we have here.

  3. What a useless marriage… They do NOTHING with Kumiko after this episode, and she’s still voiced by Tress MacNeille!

    • I disagree about the marriage, but you are right in that they have done nothing with this after this episode. That is a major disappointment.

  4. I never saw this episode, but I’m sure the quick Miyazaki tribute in the season 3 Bob’s Burgers episode “An Indecent Thanksgiving Proposal” blows away the one they shat out here.

  5. I really don’t know why the show ever bothered making Moe a sad sack later on, because they already had CBG as their staple loser since Season 3.

    This one I recall being pretty heavily reviled for being entirely basement-dweller wish fulfillment, given that Kumiko just throws herself at CMG’s feet after barely interacting with him. The episode itself doesn’t elevate CBG himself as anything other than a fat, lonely, loser whose also a colossal prick to everyone else except Kumiko because he thinks she’s hot

    What, is she he first geek she’s ever hung out with? Because it’s pretty damn obvious she could find a much more appealing nerd than CBG, let alone one she wants to marry.

    The saddest thing is that this whole episode sounds like some sort of satire, but it’s played completely straight–they honestly believed they’d get “nerd cred” by randomly pairing up CBG with a hot Asian they pulled out of thin air.

    What’s next, Miss America marrying Barney Gumble because of the brand of foot powder he uses?

    • Why doe Kumiko find CBG attractive? Because Japan.

      Hell, maybe he is a descendant on her family tree. :-p

  6. I’m sorry to say this, but this is one of those times where I have to completely disagree with you Mike. I thought this episode was cute and hilarious. I loved the joke about Japanese Game Shows Kumiko made and the Miyazaki bit was amazing. I am a huge anime fan, and a Ghibli one, so it worked. I don’t care if it was a reference, it was still badass.

    Now I’m not saying this episode is perfect by any means, because it is not. However, as far as Post-Season 9 Simpsons episodes are concerned, it is one of the best.

    I agree about bringing Milo back being pointless without Jack Black returning for the character. That made no sense whatsoever. On the other hand, I don’t need to see every little detail leading up to their marriage. The show only has 21 minutes to tell a story, but it is implied that they do spend time with each other before getting married and that is good enough for me.

    • Fair enough; if you enjoy it, that’s fine by me. I just have a simple question to pose to you: can you describe Kumiko’s personality? What about her as a character made her fall madly in love with CBG?

  7. Kumiko was meant to be a parody on how Japanese culture always portrays a girl falling in love with the first guy she sees that is different in anime series. It’s basically a,”Notice me, Senpai” type scenario.

    Now I’m not denying it could have been approached better, and you are justified in wanting to see development occur in their relationship before they got married, but since I am an avid anime viewer (well not just anime, but also live action things like Sentai and Kamen Rider where it is also the same), I immediately understood what they were aiming for here.

    • That interpretation might be believable except that the terrible writers on this series have for years been having characters show up and announce thoughts and feelings with no logical build up or progression.

  8. They could’ve easily explained Kumiko’s attraction to CBG by giving her some connection to a sumo wrestler back in Japan. Hell, the sumo could even kind of resemble CBG.

    As for the father at the end, it looks like it’s an off-color, lawyer-friendly C3PO costume. As for why, I guess to show he excepts his daughter marrying a nerd.

  9. Well this is awkward…

    I just rewatched this episode as it is a contender for my Best Modern Episodes list and after all that time I spent defending this episode last year I’ve come to the realization that it really wasn’t that great of an episode after all. o_O

    Don’t I feel like an ass. 🙂

    I still like the Miyazaki tribute bit, and I still do think there are a few funny jokes, but most of this episode was bad, just plain bad. Why I didn’t notice it originally bewilders me, but it could just have been due to the episodes that were before it that elevated my enjoyment of this. Well whatever.

    You’re right Mike, they don’t do anything to show why Kumiko falls in love with CBG and vice versa, they just do. The episode also has way too much Homer and Marge in it when it should just be those two. I did still laugh when Kumiko made the comment about Japanese game shows (which became even funnier since I watched 30 Minutes Over Tokyo right after this one), but overall, it is pretty mediocre.

    • Don’t feel so bad. I was a pretty big defender of “The Town” until I actually watched the episode a 2nd time.

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