631. 3 Scenes Plus A Tag From A Marriage

Original airdate: March 25, 2018

The premise:
Driving by their first apartment, Homer and Marge reminisce about their fun childless days, and how the birth of Bart shook up their carefree lifestyles.

The reaction: Wherein the show retreads ground already covered twenty-six years ago, and Simpson family history is reimagined once again! “I Married Marge” painted a wonderful picture of Homer and Marge’s post-high school days, whose immature young adult lovebird bliss is interrupted by an unexpected pregnancy, ultimately leading to Homer forcing himself to man up and push for a job he hates to support the woman he loves and his unborn child. It’s a picture perfect story that not only is absolutely hilarious and charming in and of itself, but speaks volumes on who Homer and Marge are as characters, displaying a pivotal point in their relationship. This episode takes place during the same time frame, changing a few variables, and, of course, adding absolutely nothing of value. Now Homer and Marge are plucky early twenties go-getters, with Marge writing for the local paper and Homer plugged into some successful teeth whitening business thanks to the boss who keeps him around because he inexplicably likes him (“It’s like I know you’re not listening to me, but I know I’m not mad at you!” his boss laughs). Among a crowd of entirely familiar faces (the likes of Sideshow Bob, Smithers, Dr. Nick and Lunchlady Doris are all seen at their house party. Wonder how they all met?), Homer and Marge stay out late, hit the roller rink, make out at midnight movies… but all that ends when we smash cut to a year later and Bart is born. Their professional lives fall apart , but thanks to a tape Reverend Lovejoy shows them about how only children are evil, Homer and Marge find the answer: one baby is hard, but two is better! There’s barely any plot to hang onto, so I really don’t know how we got here. Homer and Marge both lost their jobs, so they decide to have another baby? The ending shows how when Lisa was born, all their problems were apparently solved (“Bart became the calmest boy in the whole world!” Marge boasts as we see two-year-old Bart inexplicably stab his father with an IV). So… what am I supposed to make of this ending? The framing device features Homer and Marge telling this story to the current tenants of their old first apartment, a hipster couple on the fence about having kids. By the end of the story, the wife is already downstairs about to get on a bus out of town (“I never want to be stuck with people like you who stunt each other’s growth with their random dysfunction!”) The Simpson family puts on phony grins to con the wife into thinking everything’s okay, mollifying the wife. Homer and Marge wax nostalgic on their child-free days, and we end on them openly admitting they’re pretending to be happy in front of their children. As they drive home, Marge summarizes, “We may not be ethical, but we make a great team!” Does that sound like a Marge line to you? And this is following her being upset at Homer alluding to their marriage being awful (when the hipster couple reunites, Homer crows that they’ve saved two bad marriages). Not only is this show seemingly anti-having kids, but it paints being in a relationship as soul-crushing and miserable (“The only way humanity survives is if people perpetuate this lie!”) Old flashback shows showed our favorite family mistep and fail, but their love for each other was always their guiding compass to the right choices. Here, it’s just a bunch of random pointless shit that leaves you confused and with a bad taste in your mouth.

Three items of note:
– I honestly don’t understand Homer being at the Flashmouth company. His boss seemingly didn’t seem to care that he doesn’t do shit, and tells him that Homer will get a piece of the company’s success just because. In the past, we’ve seen Homer living the dream working at the mini golf course and at Barney’s Bowl-O-Rama, menial nothing jobs that he excels at and takes pride in. Here, he’s just some lazy goofball who lucked into glomming onto an actual smart, ambitious person. Later, Homer walks into his office with Baby Bart, who’s shocked to see his beloved employee has a son (“A kid indicates you took time away from me to conceive. It’s like a virus that starts spreading, and suddenly everyone’s getting married when they should be working!”) Does he know about Marge? Moreover, are Homer and Marge even married in this flashback? I assumed so, but this line seems to imply he’d be just as cross knowing Homer is married as well as having a kid. What is going on? First he doesn’t seem to give two fucks that Homer does nothing, now he’s mad he’s not working? Maybe that his semblance of a family life will distract the people doing real work at the company getting it off the ground? There’s also a weird co-dependency vibe coming from him talking about taking time away from him personally. I really don’t fucking understand this character. In the present, the kids convince Homer to give his old buddy a call, who proceeds to hang up on him as he’s taking his elevator to the top floor of his building. Which extends all the way up into space. Yeah, I don’t get it either.
– Baby Bart fluctuates between being an infant sadist (puncturing Kirk’s hand with a toothpick and pouring salt into the wound) and being an unsupervised rambunctious kid (attempting to skateboard over sleeping kids at not-Gymboree while all the employees hang out in the back room). Marge’s journalist career ends thanks to Bart destroying an art piece, but as Homer and Marge have an argument about who’s watching the kid, Bart escapes his car seat, tampers with another art piece to create a slingshot, waddles over to the other side of the gallery to get a button to use as ammo, then shoots and pops the central inflatable art installation. Ultimately, Homer and Marge lose their jobs because of Bart, but really in this case, it’s completely their fault for not watching the kid. It’s not even worth comparing this portrayal to Baby Bart in “Lisa’s First Word,” a completely believable depiction of a noisy, intolerable toddler that’s driving Homer and Marge (mostly Homer) up the wall.
– Dr. Hibbert shows up at the very end dressed as Prince from Purple Rain, but it doesn’t make any sense given the show’s shifting timeline. At this point, Lisa would have been born in 2010. The joke with Hibbert is that he’s sporting a relevant black haircut at the time. Also he’s literally dressed like Prince, not a doctor. Is he cosplaying or something?

One good line/moment: There may have been one or two adequate lines, but I don’t remember them. This one was just a real cynical shit show.

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19 responses to “631. 3 Scenes Plus A Tag From A Marriage

  1. Haven’t we redone this story like four times now?

  2. What is it with TV shows nowadays that treat the very idea of parenthood as something absolutely miserable and soul crushing? This episode (which I have no desire to see) clearly does it, but the worst is Big Bang Theory, which wrote a second pregnant for Bernadette in order to accommodate the actress’ own pregnancy and throughout every second of it and the birth of the second child it was depicted as nothing but a complete burden that makes everyone miserable.

    Fucking disgusting.

    • I think the issue is that writers are typically young, childless, and let’s be honest, self-centered, so they don’t view having a child as anything but a cramp on their ultra-chic lifestyle and thus a burden. It apparently doesn’t occur to them to talk to any parents they know and at least get a different perspective on the issue and maybe some insight on why people frequently have kids and consider it among the best decisions of their lives, but no one ever accused the modern Simpsons writers of being competent.

      • Except this episode was “written” by Tom Gammill and Max Pross, sixty-year-old comedy veterans, married with adult children, so I have no idea where this idea and the bitterness within it was pulled out of.

  3. This cynical affair is preceded by a Bill Plympton couch gag that, albeit pretty much an outright remake of his earlier short Your Face, gives us a very heartfelt Homer who’s shown to be grateful and loving toward his family. It’s a sweet treat that couldn’t contrast more with the sensibilities depicted in the actual show.

  4. What did you think of the Mavel ‘parody’ at the start, also it has been awhile since I have seen an The Simpsons but Marge’s voice has become unbearable to listen to now and the animation, my god the party scene look terrible.

  5. As great as the couch gag was, I can’t be the only one who disliked the addition of the sound effects? They were very distracting.

  6. To me cynicism is the worst plague of mankind, simple as that.

    But talking about the episode, the worst thing of all is that modern tv shows and movies LOVE to be cynical -sorry, I mean, desperately NEED to be cynical. And you know why? Because nowadays people(generalizing) are so insecure that think “sincerity” means “ingenuity”: if you are genuine, or you show sincere, simple, let’s say “normal” emotions or behavior, then you are stupid; and I assure you the writers main fear is people who watch their shows\movies and think they are stupid and naive. That’s also the reason why every fucking show and comedy movie now has some self-referencing humor: because in case the viewer thinks a given plot device is “old”, or a scene is predictable, or a line overused, or even that the whole show is crap, they say “Hey, don’t you think we are stupid or naive! We exactly know what we are writing! We are not simple minded people! See? We are not stupid!”.

    God, I fucking hate post-modern humor. They took the immortal genius of what The Simpsons created in the 90s, and used it to destroy comedy.

    • The problem is two-fold:
      1) Post-modern humor and general satire are falling out of favor with the American people. While many TV shows and movies in the 90s were subversive parodies of famous tropes, there aren’t anywhere near as many today. People today aren’t as willing to poke fun at society’s faults anymore, they actually want to fix them.

      This is another problem the Simpsons has to contend with…aside from the lower quality…AND society having moved on from them…AND 29 years of backstory weighing them down…society just doesn’t want satire as much anymore. There is still a place for satire, of course, but it has to be done far more seriously, like Bojack Horseman…which leads me to my next point.

      2) The problem is that the episode sucks. And a very common mistake writers make is that if you point out the problems a story has, it makes them go away. When in reality, it just calls into question why YOU didn’t fix those problems when you KNEW about them. I mean, a show can be self-aware about how stupid it is, but it can’t ALSO take itself seriously and act as if this is reality.

      • Kaiju no Kami

        You are right about that, people take offense whenever someone makes fun of something. They think it needs to be fixed and no one should say anything bad about it.

    • Comedy styles come and go, simple as that. Right now, The Simpsons’s comedy style is rather old-fashioned compared to some of the new comedies coming out, which speaks volumes for how long the show’s been on the air: It outlived its own trends!

  7. This might just be the best episode of the season, and while that isn’t saying much, it’s because the show got a few laughs out of me.

    First one was at the beginning when they were making fun of the credit sequences in the Marvel films. So damn funny, especially since GotG2 did have five post-credit sequences.

    Second bit was JK Simmons with his, “Can you drift or should I throw you an oar?” Then again, Simmons always makes every scene he appears in wonderful even if the rest of the episode is bleh.

    Third one was when Marge says she wants to see the comet and Homer asks if they come from space.

    I don’t get the opening sequence though. That was just another random and stupid segment full of crappy animation.

    The rest of the episode was pretty humorless. Not only was it out of character because they were a happy family at one point, but none of this made sense. When the hell did they personally know Sideshow Bob, Bleeding Gums Murphy, and Kent Brockman?

    Also, didn’t Homer get a job at the power plant BEFORE Bart was born? I’m pretty sure he did.

    Now I don’t see anything wrong with the hipsters thinking kids might ruin their relationship as I’ve seen that happen a lot. We haven’t had kids because, well, we can’t afford them right now. Jobs don’t pay enough to match the cost of living and I refuse to raise a kid in an apartment.

    Overall though, it’s a pretty lackluster episode that also felt short. Like I don’t think the episode was even 20 minutes long. Well whatever. It could have been worse.

  8. When a show has to retcon major lore of the show, that’s already a problem. When it’s done MORE than once, that’s a death knell.

    The Simpsons used to surprise me and wow me with how well-thought out and multi-layered its stories and jokes were. You could write entire blog posts on the genius of a single episode…or a single scene…or even a single joke. But now you can write a whole post on how AWFUL a joke or story is. Like, you can think of 6 intertwining reasons why a joke sucks or doesn’t make sense.

    As I’ve said, the writers clearly want to be writing for another show. They just take the Simpsons and place them into any situation they want, with no rhyme or reason. And they seem to be simultaneously desperate to win nostalgia points by constantly referencing old episodes…and simultaneously retcon or stomp all over them.

    Like, why is Bleeding Gums Murphy at the party?! His whole character was that he was alone in the world and all he had was his music and Lisa. But now he was family friends with Homer and Marge and going to house parties 10 years before Lisa was born?

    • “Like, why is Bleeding Gums Murphy at the party?! His whole character was that he was alone in the world and all he had was his music and Lisa. But now he was family friends with Homer and Marge and going to house parties 10 years before Lisa was born?”
      Simple: Why bother making a generic character model when you can just shove in one of the already thousands of named characters into a scene.

      At this point, I’m just waiting for a Happy Little Elf to show up again. Not on TV mind you, but as a legit background character in a scene.

  9. Haven’t seen this one, like the vast majority of post-season 20 episodes, but even reading the description hurt. “Lisa’s First Word” was a classic episode, why try to fix what wasn’t broken?

    That still shot is actually symbolic for what the series had become ages ago: Tired.

  10. I don’t get why everyone hates the cynical outlook on parenthood so much, aside from being a bad retcon. I feel like the premise could have been decent if they had used another couple to tell the story of how having kids ruined thier lives, rather than Homer and Marge yet again.

    Also, what the hell decade are the flashbacks set in?

    • Jebus_Kwijibo

      I would have said sometime in the 80s, given the aesthetic of some locations such as Lovejoy’s office, but at the same time, others have a distinct 2000s look too.

  11. Actual conversation in the writer’s room, I’m guessing:

    “Hey, let’s remake ‘I Married Marge’ again.”
    “Why?”
    “I don’t know, who cares?”

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