The premise: Marge unwittingly is hired at Drederick Tatum’s new weed dispensary, but her cool new job is threatened when Homer teams up with Otto and Moe to sell pot their own way: in the sleazy, underground fashion of yesteryear.
The reaction: Hard to believe it’s been eighteen years since Homer was prescribed medical marijuana, in an at-the-time very controversial episode. In terms of satirizing legal cannabis culture, this episode actually has some promising ideas, but as always, their execution doesn’t hit the mark, mostly from how Homer and Marge seem completely adrift in their own stories. We start with Marge dropping Maggie off at pre-emptive daycare, and not knowing what to do with herself, just stands in a random line at a newly opened shop (“If all these people want to work here, maybe I want to work here!”) She takes a bizarre ethics assessment test, and then, by being the only person who notes the attendant’s name tag is upside down, she immediately gets hired and starts working, despite not actually knowing what the hell the store really is. It reminded me of that episode way back when where Marge worked for an erotic bakery, fulfilling many, many orders before she finally discovered the truth. She’s supposed to just be painfully naive, but the way it’s written, it just makes her look dumb and flaky. Later, Drederick Tatum reveals why they wanted to hire Marge: she serves as an honest, caring face that will put people at ease frequenting such an “edgy” establishment. This concept I do really like, as a caring and emphatic figure of the community, Marge really is the ideal candidate, and seeing how smoking pot can help people with severe anxiety or stress could make her feel better, a new venue of mothering and helping as a replacement for Maggie. Another promising concept involves Otto, whose appearance in a show like this was inevitable, who finds himself disillusioned by this brave new world of legal weed. He misses the good old days of buying some shitty skunk weed from a friend of an acquaintance of a friend in their run down apartment that smells like a wet grocery bag. And so, Moe and Homer make his dream a reality, setting up shop in the back of Moe’s to create a simulated experience of buying weed from some kinda shady guy in his mom’s basement. This conceit could work twofold: enticing similar-minded folks like Otto who miss underground pot culture, that being a more appealing lifestyle than the actual act of smoking pot itself. Or it could end up becoming even more popular that Marge’s store, with hipsters embracing the more “authentic” nature of Homer and Moe’s shady outlet. But none of these things really happen. Marge’s allegiance to Well + Good only amounts to her being excited to be a part of something outside the home, which is the core idea behind basically all Marge-gets-a-job shows since the series’ inception. Meanwhile, I have no fucking idea why Homer is so invested on his end, to the degree that when Marge performs a sting operation to get him shut down to save her own job, Homer is upset and betrayed and I really don’t understand why. What personal investment does he have in the weed business? I don’t even know if he was being paid. The finale involves Homer outing Marge for never having smoked before, so she does, she gets a bad high, and Homer helps calm her down, and that’s it. Any of the commentary about marijuana’s medicinal or helpful attributes is thrown out the window when Marge’s two co-workers are revealed to just be happy-go-lucky stoners (“What you need to understand is this: I’m high too!!” “I’m serenitied out of my gourd!”) By the time Homer accidentally blows up Drederick Tatum’s new cannabis resort and spa, I was at a loss in figuring out what the point of the episode was. What did Homer and Marge want, and what did they learn? I really couldn’t say.
Three items of note:
– Drederick Tatum plays a huge role in this episode, maybe the biggest solo episode appearance of the entire series. It was just kind of odd hearing him talk for so long. He also sports Mike Tyson’s facial tattoo for the first time (I think?), I guess just in case you couldn’t tell this 30-year-old character is supposed to be a parody of the famous boxer. We then get great jokes like a magazine cover making fun of his speech impediment (“Bithneth Ith Booming”) Once more, the series finds itself woefully stuck in the past. After all those Hangover movies and Mike Tyson Mysteries on adult swim, isn’t the well on Mike Tyson jokes completely dried up at this point? Even now, we’re still expected to laugh at how funny he talks?
– Billy Porter and Chelsea Peretti join the long, long list of incredibly talented performers stuck slumming it through subpar material on this legacy show. Also making an incredibly brief cameo appearance is Kevin Smith; Homer claims he broke into Tatum’s exclusive gala event by claiming to be Smith’s father, and when he accidentally blows the place sky high, Smith runs in and cries, “Dad, what did you do?!” Kind of odd that an episode all about weed culture would only feature Smith for just one line. They couldn’t have given him another scene at the party or something? Kevin Smith is one of those creators whose work is a mixed bag, even terrible at times, but as a public figure, he’s just so authentic and so damn likable that I can’t be mad at him, even if Tusk made me physically vibrate I was so perplexed and aggravated by it. Smith talked a bit recently on his social media how excited and honored he was to be featured on the show, even shouting out the character designer who drew him (“I always dreamed of being on The Simpsons, but never imagined, if it happened, that I’d be rendered thinner than Homer!”) You gotta love the guy. Wish you could’ve been on like twenty years earlier. Or at the very least on Futurama as a head in a jar or something.
– The episode was so poorly plotted and aimless that Marge losing her job and Maggie being removed from daycare were relegated to a tag playing under the credits. Marge needing to find purpose in her life being a new empty nester could have been a really rich vein to keep through the entire episode, but it’s completely abandoned after the opening. Hell, maybe smoking pot could have helped Marge with her separation anxiety or something. She finds smoking helps calm her down, but has to hide her new habit from the rest of the family. There’s an idea. Although I don’t even know if you could even show a character actually smoking a joint even now on prime time television, which is probably why in the climax, Marge just takes a drop of CBD oil on her tongue.