Original airdate: September 27, 2015
The premise: Homer’s recent bout with narcolepsy proves to be the last straw for Marge, causing them to legally separate. He then ends up dating a twenty-something pharmacist, voiced by cancerous polyp Lena Dunham.
The reaction: At this point, I feel like I would really love to see a really serious episode where Homer and Marge get divorced. I mean, why not, at this point. I remember they drummed up news coverage for this premiere, crowing about how the two were going to split up, for real, we swear, guys! Come on. It was almost embarrassing to see, like who’s falling for these cheap gimmicks anymore? So what causes this seemingly unbreakable couple to finally call it quits after twenty-six years? We see them in therapy after Homer didn’t get his medication for his narcolepsy because the line was too long. We don’t see how this medical condition is negatively affecting Marge, or anything else other than Homer’s normal annoying behavior. In perhaps the greatest example of characters just saying things to move the plot along, the therapist recommends that they separate, and Marge follows her words to the letter (“Kids, a professional felt the best way for your father and me to work on our relationship was to give up on it.”) Someone told her to do something, and she did it! And then repeated it! So Homer ends up going on a drug trip with a young attractive pharmacist named Candace, who for whatever stupid reason is interested in this old tub of lard. At this point, I have no idea where this show is going and how it’s going to resolve itself by the end. But then Homer goes to dinner to meet Candace’s father, only to find out he’s invited the new woman in his life: Marge. As fucking dumb as all of this had been so far, I at least could see how this could pan out: father and daughter immediately begin arguing, and Marge would see what a hassle all of this is, and realize she’s content to go with what she knows, and that’s being with Homer. Quick and dirty, get out, episode over. But no, turns out that everything we’ve seen over the last twelve minutes or so has just been a dream Homer had while passed out at the therapist. He resolves he’ll clean up his act, and over the coming month, he does. But it turns out all that was just a dream too. And then that itself was all a dream Marge had, and then that was all just a tattoo on the back of Dunham’s Girls character. Woof. This could have potentially been interesting if they had worked in earlier that Homer’s narcolepsy was causing him to lose time and become more and more disoriented, but there wasn’t even the slightest attempt to do anything like that here. They didn’t want to bother writing an ending, so they gave us this great big wank. It’s like a big slap in the face for anyone stupid enough to think they were really going to stay separated, and a second slap for anyone foolish enough to still be watching this nonsense. I guess that includes me, doesn’t it? Sigh.
Three items of note:
– As all one-off characters are in the last decade-plus, Candace has no discernible personality, and this is especially damning considering this is the girl that’s making Homer forget about the love of his life (although it changes from scene to scene whether he’s still pining for Marge or he’s completely moved on). Their relationship begins when she just says it does (“Are you asking me out? I mean, you’re not, but it looks like you’d be fun to hang with, and I’m pretty fascinating myself, I’m an author.”) But it really doesn’t matter. As evidenced by the cop out dreams-within-dreams ending, the writers had really no intention to make this a believable story that makes sense. As I mentioned at the start, it’s just a flashy gimmick episode where they managed to generate some minor press for the new season. The only woman that strayed Homer’s eye before was Mindy Simmons, a woman seemingly tailor-made for him that he cursed fate for placing before him. Would it have been too much to ask for Candace and Homer to bond over just one shared interest? Anything whatsoever? I guess so. We also get cameos from Dunham’s Girls co-stars, who all get a line each. They’re also joined by gay stereotype Julio, because he’s a catty gay guy who loves gossip and drama (those crazy gays, amirite?)
– The second act opens with a sad montage of Homer now living at the power plant, where we follow him at night looking forlorn and depressed, complete with somber music. Cut to morning, Homer happily hums walking out of the shower and is pleased as punch walking to his work console. Lenny and Carl comment on his sudden mood change, to which Homer responds, “Oh, you guys missed a very sad montage.” Again, more proof that the writers didn’t care about making any of this serious or meaningful at all.
– More bits of fan service with Candace’s tattoos and hallucinations in the drug trip montage: Smilin’ Joe Fission, Mr. Sparkle, Space Coyote, and the creepy clown bed make repeat appearances. From the modern era, we also have Plopper, the Grumple and Fatov, that little Homer Olympic mascot. Which grouping sounds more fun to hang out with?
One good line/moment: The only explanation we’re given why Candace likes Homer is that he reminds her of a childhood snowman, which is one of many guesses that her friends throws at her. But Homer’s response to this is kind of cute (“Man, I would love to get back into snowman shape. Can’t even fit in my scarf anymore.”)