Archive for the 'The Simpsons' Category


The Simpsons vs. Thanksgiving

Bart vs Thanksgiving17

“I would say something comforting, but, you know, my voice.” – Jacqueline Bouvier 

“Bart vs. Thanksgiving” was originally broadcast twenty-five Thanksgivings ago (22 Nov 1990, to be exact). It’s the first episode written by George Meyer (just the 20th episode overall, and the 7th of Season 2), and it’s a great showcase of just how quickly the show began firing on all cylinders. The Thanksgiving episode has everything from blink-and-you’ll-miss-them background gags to gleefully cruel satire of sacred American institutions and self mocking meta-jokes.

Underlying everything is the show’s cardinal grace: a family that loves each other even while they don’t like each other. The story centers around Bart’s disdain for Lisa and her resentment of it, but it also covers Marge harshly scolding Bart; Patty, Selma, and Jacqueline trashing Marge; Homer’s indifference to his kids; and Grampa and Homer treating each other like furniture. In the end, they get “one more crack at togetherness” because they actually do love each other; but that only comes after the episode has spent considerable time rolling around in the rich comedy soil of family insults and contempt.

Around that is non-stop mockery of all the goofy traditions of modern American Thanksgiving. People watch the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys, and on this sacredly secular day, Homer is gambling against his favorite team and all the idiots in the stands are using flash photography. Hooray For Everything comes out at halftime to celebrate the Western Hemisphere (“the dancin-est hemisphere of all!”) to the delight of Homer-esque dimwits nationwide. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade gets doubly insulted, both for using outdated cartoon characters that kids no longer care about, and for pandering to know nothing 10-year-olds by including a Bart Simpson balloon. (Which they actually did that year.)

Bart vs Thanksgiving13

Son, this is a tradition. If you start building a balloon for every flash in the pan cartoon character, you’ll turn the parade into a farce!” – Homer Simpson

The episode the starts taking whacks at the often awkward and sometimes bitter tradition of having extended family over for dinner. Patty and Selma manage to insult Marge as soon as they walk in the door by having brought their own dinners. Jacqueline Bouvier shows up barely able to talk, but what words she does say express nothing but disappointment and shame at her three daughters. Homer goes to pick up Grampa at the retirement home, where forgotten old people get “turkey puree” and feel hopelessly lonely as the manager reads off an impersonal list of names whose families bothered to fax(!) in an empty holiday greeting. The choice Meyer and the rest of the writing staff present is both clear and bleak: spend the holidays with your family and you get to be miserable while you’re being insulted and put down, or spend it alone and forgotten and you get to be miserable and lonely.


“This place is depressing!” – Homer Simpson
“Hey, I live here!” – Abe “Grandpa” Simpson

After Bart and Lisa fight and Bart accidentally destroys Lisa’s prized centerpiece, the family (minus the two of them) finally sits down to dinner for a prayer from Homer:

“And Lord, we’re especially thankful for nuclear power, the cleanest, safest energy source there is . . . except for solar, which is just a pipe dream. Anyway, we’d like to thank you for the occasional moments of peace and love our family’s experienced. Well, not today, you saw what happened! Oh, Lord, be honest, are we the most pathetic family in the universe or what?”

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To which everyone at the table replies, “Amen”, before Selma calls it the, “Worst prayer yet”.

From there, the show continues its contemptuous survey of the hollowness of the holiday. At the corner of Croesus and Mammon, we see Burns throw away a feast while his security guards eat TV dinners and read Les Miserables. On the wrong side of the tracks, Kent Brockman shows up to the soup kitchen to win himself another local Emmy for what one of the bums perfectly derides as, “one of those be-thankful-for-what-you-got stories”. That joke still resonates because those stories remain a seasonal staple on local news, but what makes it even better is that this episode was actually broadcast on Thanksgiving! Real stories every bit as self serving and chock full of phony empathy as Brockman’s were being broadcast all over the country that very night.

Bart vs Thanksgiving16

The harsh limits of televised sympathy.

The story then wraps up with Bart actually being thankful for his family, and even apologizing to Lisa. Crucially, he doesn’t apologize because he’s being starved or because Marge told him he “ruined Thanksgiving”, but because deep down he feels bad for hurting his sister’s feelings. It’s a moment of actual family bonding, but it never degenerates into schmaltz or cliches.

With the relentless negativity of the extended family long gone, the episode ends with the nuclear Simpson family in their pajamas, happily slurping and belching over a table of leftovers. Thanksgiving may be a gluttonous charade, and your family may infuriate and hurt you, but spending it with them can still be special.


Sunday Preview: Lisa With An “S”


When Homer loses $5,000 at a poker game with Broadway legend Laney Fontaine, the only way he is able to settle the bet is if he loans Lisa to Laney for a month. Then, Laney turns Lisa into a show biz kid and Marge and Homer fear they made a mistake letting her go. So they head to New York to get her back.

Well this is probably some record for laziness on my part. The episode airs 15 minutes from now and I am just putting this up. Not that it really matters. Anyway for tonight,  Homer basically sells his kid for a month to clear gambling debts, it’s a story as old as time.  I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed the sudden realization I had failed to complete the most basic of tasks that I only have to do like 20 times a year.



Quote of the Day

Homer's Enemy16

“Way to go, Homer!” – Carl
“You’re number one, Homer!” – Lenny
“But this was a contest for children!” – Frank Grimes
“Yeah, and Homer beat their brains out.” – Lenny

Happy birthday, John Swartzwelder!


Quote of the Day

Radio Bart19

“Sorry, Rosarita, I gotta get to my birthday party.” – Bart Simpson
“Farewell, senor Bart.” – Rosarita

Happy birthday, Maggie Roswell!


Sunday Preview: Friend with Benefit


Lisa makes a new pal at school named Harper, whose internet billionaire father becomes buddies with a different Simpson: Homer. Soon, though, Lisa becomes worried that Harper is a little too entitled

Sounds like there will be some Homer shenanigans tonight, not that there isn’t in every other zombie simpsons episode, but I can’t think of anything else to write.  Kristen Bell will be the voice of Harper, so even money there is a sloth in the show at some point.


Quote of the Day

Flaming Moe's17

“Hiya, scrumptious, do you want to ignite my drink?” – Mrs. Krabappel
“You’re my kid’s teacher.” – Homer Simpson
“Single parent, are we?” – Mrs. Krabappel
“No!” – Homer Simpson
“Well, let’s pretend you are.” – Mrs. Krabappel

Marcia Wallace would’ve been 73 today. Happy birthday.


Quote of the Day

Treehouse of Horror VI12

“What’s going on here?  I’m so bulgy.  My stomach sticks way out in front and my- ahhhh!” – Homer Simpson

Happy 20th Anniversary to “Treehouse of Horror VI”! Original airdate 29 October 1995.

And happy birthday to the one, the only Dan Castellaneta!


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