656. E My Sports

Original airdate: March 17, 2019

The premise:
Bart’s gamer team is on the road to the grand championship, and Homer joins in to be their coach, hoping to eventually rest comfortably on the laurels of his son’s successful e-sports career.

The reaction: I was dreading this one a little bit, an episode about e-sports written about a nearly sixty year old man, but this show really isn’t interesting in lampooning this contemporary subject, and the jokes that are here are pretty surface-level, or just old gamer humor (dancing over corpses replacing teabagging. I’m pretty sure we saw similar jokes in the thirteen-year-old “Marge Gamer” episode). The show itself is seemingly a Bart-Homer story, except there’s not really much focus on their relationship, and I don’t fully know what the intent was. Homer is initially befuddled that Bart can actually get money for playing video games, and upon learning of the $500,000 grand prize tournament, he doubles down in his support of Bart’s new interests, making himself the teach coach. After a brief detour featuring a hoodie-wearing, 19-year-old gaming guru (incredibly dry, with very few jokes), we get a montage of Homer supervising the kids on their computers. He’s not necessarily drilling them, he’s just kind of testing them with distractions and refilling them with coffee. After that we get a dream sequence of Homer rubbing elbows with other parents of famous successful athletes, at which point the plot now changes into Homer wanting to achieve glory vicariously through his son. Couldn’t that have been set up earlier? Why bother? Making the finals, the Simpsons jet off to Seoul, South Korea, with Lisa tagging along to take Homer and Marge to a Buddhist temple, where she teaches her parents about achieving inner peace and entering a zen state. This is all introduced within the final five minutes of the episode. Now Homer is super zen, wanders his way to the tournament where Bart’s team is about to win, and just shuts down the power via a convenient master power switch on the roof that he’s able to access somehow. Now… a few things. Through the episode, Homer never seemed too angry or obsessed or overwhelmed by his role as Bart’s coach. The living-through-Bart thing was randomly introduced later, but never seemed to be negative or overbearing, as perhaps it should have been. He just seemed cool and chill about doing this thing with Bart, so the turn of him learning to chill out and rebuff competition really makes no sense. Meanwhile, his out-of-left-field attitude change comes completely at the cost of Bart, who not only lost the $500,000 grand prize, but in the final scene of the show, we see that his teammates are super pissed at him and hitting him with stuff on the flight home. Not quite sure why they’re blaming him. Do they know Homer causes the power outage? Does Bart know this? What’s the resolution to this Bart-Homer bonding story? The answer is there isn’t one. And when we pan by Homer on the plane, he looks pissed about there being no in-flight entertainment, so his whole zen revelation was completely wasted, I guess. At least until he gets upgraded to first class because he’s too fat (“Thank the Buddha I win again!”) Too bad all it cost your son was a huge cash prize and his friendships. I can’t even get mad at this ending because I have no clue how the fuck we got here. What a mess of an episode.

Three items of note:
– Bart’s teammates are the usual suspects of Milhouse, Martin and Nelson (I’m past the point of complaining why these four tolerate each other in social settings), as well as Krusty’s daughter, Sophie. Not quite sure why she’s there. I  thought maybe they’d want to do some material about women in the professional gaming space (what fun material for a comedy show! What could be toxic about that subject?), but all we got was one gamer girl joke at the very end (“If I win, I’ll be the most famous girl gamer of all time! Also, if I lose!”) I’m sure there are a couple prolific female gamers in e-sports, right? Whatever. It’s still weird that it’s Sophie. Why not Sherri or Terri? Or Janey? Those characters still exist, right?
– At the beginning of the episode, Lisa balks about Homer rewarding Bart for bad behavior by buying him a game station set-up. Fourteen minutes later, she shows back up again, sitting in her room in the dark, lamenting about not being paid attention to. Marge walks in and offers to spend the day with Lisa, but Lisa, now with an eye twitch, shuts that shit down flat (“Mom, I try to spare you because I don’t want you feeling thoroughly appropriate guilt for what this family does to me.”) She then explains that the Jogyesa Monastery is in South Korea, and she’s desperate to go (“I’m holding onto a thin rope here, because if Bart and Dad go to Seoul and I miss out, I’ll lose my grip!”) She then proceeds to freak the fuck out, and Marge gets her to shut up by saying they’ll go to South Korea too. Man, Lisa needs to calm her tits. Seriously, what is her damage? This behavior is appropriate in a lot of other episodes where Bart falls into great success, fame or luck by pure accident, being given access to things Lisa would kill for that he responds with apathy or stupidity. In this case, Bart and Homer have actually worked very hard to reach the finals, and their efforts are paying off. If the show featured Lisa turning her nose up at pro gaming throughout, this scene would kind of make sense, but instead, she just reappears to whine and complain and damn near have a seizure until her mother gives her what she wants. When Marge tries to placate her and spend some time with her daughter, Lisa responds basically with emotional blackmail at the cost of an expensive plane ticket halfway around the world. Why are there so many instances in these past couple years of the show actively trying to make me hate Lisa?
– There’s some pretty lazy sight gags throughout the show that stuck out to me. When the pro gamer Homer hires decides to give up his career, Homer and the kids oversee him in the backyard burn his hoodie on the grill, as well as his notebook conveniently labeled “10,000 Video Game Hacks Only I Know.” At the end of the episode, we see little thought bubbles of Bart and the others as they get close to winning. Three of them dream of the first place trophy, Martin dreams of Nelson with a NEW FRIEND sash, and Nelson dreams of a wooden door labeled BEDROOM WITH DOOR. Both of these feel like incredibly lazy jokes. They both feel like they were pitched in the writer’s room as concepts, they tried to figure out how they could organically and logically work them into the script visually, and this is what they eventually gave up on and just left in the script anyway.

One good line/moment: Eh, I got nothing for this one. A lot of the episodes recently have been kind of innocuous and boring in their badness, but this one felt particularly aimless, and then just pulled it out with that nonsensical ending.

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25 responses to “656. E My Sports

  1. This is it. The one episode of Season 30 that piqued my interest and I’m satisfied to find that it’s just as horrendous as I expected it, though I was not expecting Krusty’s daughter to be in the episode, nor was I expecting it to be “The Simpsons are Going to South Korea!” I wonder what kind of games was this show “Parodying”… perhaps I’m better off not knowing.

    Oh, and just a minor thing, “Marge Gamer” is currently eleven years old and turning twelve next month.

  2. David Matthews

    “Man, Lisa needs to calm her tits.” You do know she’s an eight-year-old girl, right (not that I would have found that sentence more appealing if she were an adult)?

    • Urban Dictionary has this to say:

      However, “Calm your tits” is a PG 13 saying. If you are under the age of 13 please use the following:
      – “soothe your boobs”
      – “de-stress your breasts”
      – “undo the calamity that is in your mammaries”
      – “adjust your bust before it combusts”

      My apologies. What I should have said was was “Lisa needs to undo the calamity that’s in her mammaries.”

      In seriousness, I was trying to be humorous in exaggeration given how insane Lisa was acting in that scene. I meant no offense nor any sexualization, using that turn of phrase.

      • As a non native speaker I was unaware of the expression “X needs to calm her tits”. I thank you for expanding my vocabulary.
        I will now use this expression as often as possible, notably to annoy people who would be offended.

    • Dude, calm your tits, David Matthews.

    • No, the author of this long-running blog about the Simpsons has no idea that Lisa is eight years old.

    • Yes, Mr Matthews, everything is offensive..

  3. As bad and nonsensical as this episode was, it won’t hold a candle to next week’s nightmare.

    But I do have a few questions with this episode:
    – I have to wonder for what reason was Lisa even in this episode outside the beginning? Is it a mandate at the production studio that she needs to be involved with the plots these days?
    – Did anyone even notice Homer up on the roof? I mean I would assume they didn’t given there seemed to be no security around the building. But that in and of itself raises its own set of questions.
    – For that matter, why was there a building in South Korea calling itself “Simpsons Animation Studio (and Casino)?” I mean it’s easier than say, using the actual animation studios involved with the show as they’d probably object to it like with the previous depictions. But what point does it have other than “Hey look, our show’s animated in Korea!”? For that matter, does this mean the Simpsons (and by extension, Springfield) are animated in-universe too?

    • “Description
      Krusty releases an all-female reboot of “Itchy and Scratchy”, so Bart and his friends decide to boycott the show.”

      Guess we’re going back to the male characters all being misogynists….even though Bart and his friends didn’t seem to mind Krusty’s daughter being on their team in this episode.

      • That’s not even the worst part:
        “After Bart’s friends turn on him for laughing at the reboot, Bart joins a woke group of sixth-grade girls who commit crimes against patriarchy”

      • I’m already cringing about it, and I’m an SJW cuck feminist.

      • I, for one, think it’s bold of the creators to address the Lady Ghostbusters controversy head-on. Sure, it’s been done repeatedly and almost certainly better than The Simpsons will do it, but those were all done back in 2016.

      • +Jpw
        There’s nothing bold, since Ghostbusters3 was not controversial, it was just another Hollywood bad remake\reboot of a beloved classic on the pile, always destined to be hated.
        But I bet the episode will just use it to be relevant, so after 21 mins of male misogyny and Lisa’s(or Bart’s?) feminism it will tell us “Women are as good as men, men! Men are not enemies, women!” so that me and my gf can hug again, until the next reboot.

    • Big John's Breakfast Log

      The issue I have with the upcoming episode is, well… this show treats subtlety these days like treating treating a tumor with amputation. Given that it’s full of cantankerous writers who piss and moan about “snowflakes” ruining everything (remember their reaction to “The Problem With Apu?”, only for them to later decide to whitewash “Stark Raving Dad” from history after spending two decades extolling the episode because another documentary may have said some things that people have long came to the conclusion of because freaking Oprah Winfrey made it and not some random Indian person), there’s a strong possibility that they will approach this the same way that Sony Pictures and Paul Feig approached the blowback that the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot got; simply pass off any criticism as just manchildren being sexist, and ignore the problems of the cartoon, both on a fundamental and a meta level, and paint everyone who has a problem with the new version as just assholes who have a problem with it just for a sake of having a problem with it before the series decides to undo it and goes back to the status quo, especially as Bart is ostracized for growing to like the genderbent version, and (surprise, surprise) gets the support of Lisa because “SJW power” and other malarkey.

      On that topic, one of my issues is that people want progress, which I’m all for, but at the same time, true progress means a willingness to hold something accountable if it turns out bad, since we are willing to hold it to a standard if it was, say, done by an all-white male cast (this is going towards the recent Captain Marvel stuff online, where it seemed as if it was impossible to make any critique about the movie if it was anything less than a 9/10, even though it was a fundamentally solid movie… and I say this as a person who doesn’t like the MCU as a concept or a franchise in general). It’s rather ironic (or not, since they would stumble upon these unintentionally), that earlier Zombie Simpsons managed to explore this haphazardly in the episode “Girls Just Want to Have Sums” where the school is segregated by gender, and it’s decided that girls are incapable of learning about math and get a truncated experience that’s built upon predispositions, so Lisa decides to masquerade as a boy so she can get an actual education.

  4. “E My Sports”. Another fucking lazy, fucking stupid fucking title.

    Okay, I’ll calm my tits now.

  5. I’m pretty sure outside of fueling Lisa pity-parties or getting treated like Hans Moleman in the latters’ case, Janey, Sherri and Terri *don’t* exist anymore.
    To be honest though, no problem with Sophie, she at least existed previously even if she didn’t add much. It wasn’t like Krusty the Clown where they had a guest star for less than two minutes worth or screentime when the twins would have been *perfect* in the role of a pair of pushy bosses turning the school paper into a trashy tabloid… Sophie’s a character, at least.

    • Big John's Breakfast Log

      Yeah, Janey was created as someone for Lisa to talk to, but was never established as a “friend” for her, since, like Marge, it was always a rule to remind the viewer that Lisa was always lonely.

  6. Big John's Breakfast Log

    So… this episode is, “Here’s this thing; let’s shoehorn the usual suspects… enter surface level jokes, have ‘The Simpsons Go to (Another Place)’, set up the screw-you ending, go all-in with the kafka humor, credits.”

    Gotcha.

  7. I’m legitimately shook that Kaiju hasn’t commented on this one. Is he really done with the show forever??

    • Here’s hoping. One less person watching is one tiny, tiny step closer to this shambling corpse of a show finally getting put out of its misery.

      • I mean I haven’t watched the show in years, but I still follow this blog because I remain morbidly curious about how bad it can get.

    • lol

      I read Mike’s review, but I didn’t really have anything to comment on since I didn’t watch it. I didn’t watch last night’s either.

      I do have to agree with ABonnyBunny that at least Sophie was an already established character.

  8. I apologize for my earlier rudeness (for some reason I can’t reply to the thread this is directed at); I too still read this blog out of morbid curiosity, it’s just hard not to hope they’ll finally let this show come to an end soon.

  9. OH GOD can we talk about the description of the April 7th episode?

    “Description
    Marge won’t let Maggie play with her new baby crush because of his annoying mother, leading Maggie into a depressive spiral; Mr. Burns tasks Homer with swindling Cletus out of his helium fortune.”

    An infant with a “baby crush” and then crippling depression *and* Burns trusting Homer to do anything money-related? Fuck, that’s like a double bill of terrible.

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