The reaction: Apparently this premise was based on real-life strife with Al Jean and his wife Stephanie Gillis, so I guess this episode is almost like their form of couples therapy. Before leaving to visit her ailing aunt, Marge instructs Homer to not binge watch the newest season of Netflix’s “Odder Things” (groan), but eventually he breaks down and gives into his temptations. Marge returns and is absolutely furious, being cold and abrasive toward Homer for the duration of the episode. I understand that this is pulled from real life (there are many shows that my wife and I must watch together), and I get it’s exaggerated, but the “conflict” just feels so meaningless. Am I supposed to care about stakes here? I mean, I haven’t for many, many years now, so I guess why bother worrying about them now? Homer finds out Marge also binges a lot of dance competition shows, so he decides to learn how to dance to win her back. He works a lot with a teacher, and then at the end of the show, he invites Marge out to a big party with all their friends, woos her with his dancing skills… and then that’s it. The episode’s over. It’s played 100% straight, with shots of the crowd cheering, Homer and Marge looking lovey-dovey at each other, and we fade to black on their embrace, right before the unrelated tag before the credits. What a knee slapper, huh? Am I supposed to be so touched by the sweet, loving relationship of these characters I love so much that I am just enthralled by this non-ironic ending? Given the low-impact impetus of their strife, and how little I give a shit, I can’t imagine how anyone could feel a thing by this conclusion. Except for Jean and Gillis, I guess. I hope they had a nice dance after he binged season 2 of The Crowd or whatever.
Three items of note:
– So Netflix gets name dropped constantly, and the CCO of Netflix appears as himself, but the show in question is still “Odder Stuff.” The D-grade MAD Magazine style name “parodies” we’ve been getting for the past fifteen-plus years. Why do they do this? Do they think that making the reference non-specific that’ll make it time-less, despite using Stranger Things music and iconography? They even mention the Guffer (Duffer) Brothers; with all of this shit we’ve seen over and over, am I supposed to laugh that they changed one letter of the real noun, or the fact that they looked up the entries of “Stranger” and “Things” in a thesaurus? Also, Stranger Things doesn’t really feel like a show that Marge would be into, I don’t feel. And even weirder to think, thanks to the show’s floating timeline, in the early 80s when Stranger Things is set, Homer and Marge would have been infants, so they’re not even like the adults now who get nostalgic over their 80s childhoods.
– Characters in this show using modern technology always feels off to me, and then even more jarring on top of it is when they act like new tech acts like old tech. Seeing the kids are watching “Odder Things,” Homer frantically changes the panel to Not-BoJack Horseman (“Too depressing,” he comments. Zing!) But you couldn’t just “change the channel” on the streaming service. Could they not have had like a quick menu pop up where he switches to a different show or something? This really feels like nitpicking, but it just makes jokes like these feel even lazier and less thought out. In a similar vein, Homer finishes off his illicit binge-watching, with the TV displaying a giant “END OF SEASON 2.” Marge returns home, and Homer frantically turns the TV off. Sensing the set is still warm, Marge turns the TV back on, and the end-of-season message is still there. The Netflix app would need to be restarted when you turn the TV on, unless it were like on a separate cable box he didn’t turns off or something. Again, nitpicking, but it seems so half-hazardly done. They could have had Marge excited to watch the new season, and Homer nervously spout out a spoiler and nervously have to cover himself up, and the secret being revealed… but that seems like it’d be a lot harder to write, so fuck it.
– Apparently they had a woman from So You Think You Can Dance as a choreographer on this episode, who I guess gave her expertise to all of the dance sequences. This feels like more evidence that I was supposed to be entertained and impressed by Homer and Marge’s big dance at the end. It wasn’t supposed to be funny, it was supposed to be important and heartwarming… Ugh. So glad there’s gonna be 2+ more seasons of this kind of stuff!
One good line/moment: The bit with Homer writing notes on cards to Marge after saying she doesn’t want to hear his voice was kind of cute (“Enough with the rebuses!”)