26
Jul
10

Bill Oakley’s Letter to Dead Homer Society

Last Monday’s post about “Homer’s Enemy” attracted the notice of longtime Simpsons writer (Season 3 – Season 10) Bill Oakley, who sent us an e-mail.  That e-mail is reprinted below, with permission and in its entirety.  You can read our response here.

Fellas:

You do realize that the Homer depicted in “Homer’s Enemy” is a satirical take on certain elements of Homer’s character and history that we (meaning, the writers at the time) always found excessive, right?  At least that’s what it was intended to be, and I realize the distinction may well be so subtle as to be meaningless to many, if not most, fans.

But, that said:

Anything that may have happened after that episode and that season should not be extrapolated from the content of the Grimes story.

On the continuum between Homer the Misguided but Essentially Well-Meaning Oaf Next Door and Homer the Absurdly-Gluttonous World-Famous Idiot with No Recognizable Human Traits or Emotions, we usually tried to to stay to the left.  Not always, but usually.

But for this episode, as a counterpoint to Grimes, we intentionally threw in a lot of stuff that was ridiculously over-the-top (or so we thought) like Homer snoring at the funeral, for Pete’s sakes, and hauled out of the closet all his most unrealistic (though hilarious) past adventures (he went into outer space!  he won a Grammy!  President Ford moved in and invited him over for nachos!).

If Frank Grimes had crossed paths with the fairly normal Homer (of “Lisa’s Pony” for instance) it simply would not have been as funny or as clear, satirically, as it was to have him cross paths with the ridiculously-boorish world-famous glutton that we depicted in “Homer’s Enemy”.

Basically, the Homer depicted in that episode was an intentional self-parody, a catalog of gleeful excesses past and present.

If it didn’t come off as such to even the most devoted fans, it was certainly our mistake.

Didn’t somebody say all this on the DVD commentary?

Anyway,

That’s all.

Best,

Bill Oakley


4 Responses to “Bill Oakley’s Letter to Dead Homer Society”


  1. 27 July 2010 at 7:23 am

    This is why Bill and Josh are the best showrunners. They are willing to engage with the fans, acknowledge their criticisms, even if (as you say in the next post) they’re criticisms that are hardly their fault. In the chat they did with NoHomers a few years back, they even admitted there are a few season 8 episodes they wished to do again, had they had the time! That’s harsher criticism than most fans would give. Bill even helped us out with Wikipedia a bit, gave us a free-use image of John Swartzwelder, something I thought would be impossible. They are pros, unlike a certain other showrunner, who laughs off even the mention of “those crazy internet fans who have no idea what they’re talking about.”

    “The Principal and the Pauper” was an experiment which backfired more. An episode parodying the reaction the episode would receive if it wasn’t a parody of that reaction was something too far even for this show.

  2. 2 Cassidy
    27 July 2010 at 2:11 pm

    I agree Gran2. I think no matter what you’re feelings on the episode you have to respect Mr. Oakley for taking the time to reply in such a professional manner.

    For the record, I listened to that commentary (a few times) and I do see where he and the other writers were coming from. But that episode still stands apart for me. It’s rewatchable but I always felt a bit taken out of the Simpsons universe watching it to an extent that doesn’t happen even with episodes like “A Star is Burns” and “138th”.

    But different boats for different folks or something like that…


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