Posts Tagged ‘Walking Big & Tall


Compare & Contrast: Proudly Fat Homer

King Size Homer20

“I’m sick of all your stereotypes and cheap jokes!  The overweight individuals in this country are just as smart and talented and hard working as everybody else!  And they’re gonna make their voices heard!  All they need is a leader!” – Homer Simpson

Conventional wisdom has it that everyone is getting fatter these days and that’s a bad thing.  Reality, as usual, is considerably more complicated.  Moral panics over fat have been a recurring feature of American culture for over a century; the actual effects of obesity are deeply misunderstood at best; and the amount of societal and cultural abuse heaped on fat people is cruel, idiotic, and generally harmful.  In short, a “fat acceptance” support group (like the one Homer joined in “Walking Big & Tall”) is a thoroughly modern byproduct of something about which America is both obsessed and deeply conflicted.  In the right hands, it’s a target rich environment for comedy.  In Zombie Simpsons, it’s shambolic background for a whole lot of nothing.

Let’s start with what is easily this episode’s go to joke: a rubbery sound effect.  They use it when Homer crams himself into the seats at the theater.  They use it when he finally gets out of his theater seat (and then immediately again when he gets stuck in the door).  They use it over and over again when Homer gets locked up with the other fat people.  They even use it when Albert the fat guy puts a straw in a cup.  It’s in so much of the episode that they may have simply done that last one out of habit.

In addition to being a pretty weak joke (Once? Sure. Twice? Maybe. Three and more? Uh, no.), it neatly summarizes just how vapid the whole episode is.  Their most used gag is that fat people don’t fit into the same spaces as skinny people.  That’s it.

You can see that shallowness all over the place: the only other fat person who gets any lines is Comic Book Guy, and most of what he does is list foods, Homer himself doesn’t actually do anything in the episode besides stand around, and roughly half the dialogue is people recapping things we’ve already seen.  Even the gag at the end about Albert’s ashes needing a lot of urns goes on way too long, and that’s before they literally spelled it out for us.  You really have to wonder at the mentality and incuriosity in the writers room when they do an entire episode on fat acceptance and most of what they come up with is “fat people are big”.


Get it?  GET IT?

By contrast, “King-Size Homer” also sees Homer become proud of being a fat guy.  But instead of him joining a support group then not doing anything but talk about joining a support group, we actually get to see him be a proud fat guy.  He’s ecstatic about getting out of work.  When Marge calls him on it, he redoubles his efforts to be a “big fat dynamo!”.  At the end, he stands up to the crowd at the theater that laughs at him.  He’s even proud of his “fat guy hat”.  “Walking Big & Tall” tells us (ad nausem) that Homer is proud of his fat self.  “King-Size” Homer actually shows him doing it.

Case in point: fat guy insults.  At the theater, right before the manager attempts to buy him off with “a garbage bag full of popcorn”, the sarcastic guy shouts at him, “Hey, fatty, I got a movie for ya: A Fridge Too Far!”.  That’s a great Simpsons joke: it’s a cultural reference, it’s innovative and mean, it fits the story, and it’s done by one of their best non-named utility characters.  And, of course, there’s little stuff to notice, like how the Squeaky Voiced Teen (who’s taking tickets) and the manager both laugh at first before quickly stopping themselves while everyone else keeps going.

King Size Homer19

On The Simpsons, there is *always* a reason to pay attention.

Compare that to this unedited brainstorm pad:

 Chubby, Chunky, Blob-O, Slob-O, Fat Bastard, Michelen Man, Stay Puft, Chumbawumba, “It is balloon!”, Papa Grande, Augustus Gloop, Beached Whale, Big Boned, Wisconsin Skinny, Butterball, Dump Truck, Jelly Belly, Pudgy Wudgy, Lard Ass, Bloberino, Buddah Belly, Hurry E. Tubman, One Ton Soup, Blob Sagat, Chub Hub, Calvin Coolwhip, Manfred Manboobs, 21-Lump Street, Walking Before Picture, Fatso, Harvey Milk Chocolate, Obese Wan-Canoli, Mahatma Gumbo, Salvadore Deli, Elmer Pantry, KFC & the Spongecake Band, Snacky Onassis, The Foodie Blues, Hoagie Carmichal, and Wide Load

As I said on Monday, there are a couple of decent ones in that mess.  But there is also a ton of filler.  For every creative one like “Obese Wan-Canoli” there are three or four regular old insults (Fatso, Wide Load, Fat Bastard, Chubby, etc.) or unmodified cultural references (Augustus Gloop, Stay Puft, Butterball, etc.).  What’s more, it’s just a list.  This is a Buzzfeed headline in Zombie Simpsons form: 40 Great Fat Insults.  And, like Buzzfeed, you knew a bunch already, and most of them aren’t great.

The Simpsons picked one (1) good one and slipped it into a scene that’s integral to the plot.  If Homer doesn’t want to see “Honk If You’re Horny”, he doesn’t leave the drinking bird in charge, in which case he doesn’t resolve to mend his ways after getting insulted, and, oh yeah, the gas gets vented, preventing explosion.  The entire episode doesn’t work without this scene.

In Zombie Simpsons, the list is the only scene at Moe’s and the only time we see any of those characters.  It’s a one off tangent that has nothing to do with anything, they just had a list and time to fill.

Finally, there’s Homer himself.  It’s not just that we get to see him being a proud fat guy in Season 7, there’s a reason for him to be a proud fat guy.  Homer, being Homer, hates exercise and tries, in Lisa’s words, “abusing a program intended to help the unfortunate”.  He loves not having to go to work so much (“gas, break, honk”), that he overlooks everything else.  In “Walking Big & Tall”, Homer hurls people across entire theaters before happening to walk past the wrong support group.  One of these involves the character being himself and matters to the rest of the episode; the other does not.  Homer, let me introduce Jerkass Homer; Jerkass Homer, please meet Homer.


Behind Us Forever: Walking Big & Tall

Trash of the Titans8

“Well, this man doesn’t crawl, he stands tall!  That rhymes, Marge, and you know it rhymes.  Admit it!” – Homer Simpson

Another week, another structurally messy, weirdly lifeless, exposition heavy, joke lite episode of Zombie Simpsons.  They open with a flashback to “30 years ago” when Hans Moleman was mayor and all the current adults were kids.  They sing a crappy song, have a montage, sing it some more, then Bart and Lisa are commissioned to write a new song.  After all that, Marge sends Homer to a support group for people to lose weight, but he ends up at a support group for people who don’t want to lose weight.  Wacky hijinks ensue, each one more fully explained to the audience than the last.  It ends with a montage of Homer gaining and losing weight.  If you haven’t watched it, you’re not alone.

– The couch gag was, uh, kinda weird.

– So the gag here in the past is that everyone had more hair?

– Also, this song is really bad.

– And now we’re in multi-city song montage because this was supposed to be funny.

– Got to our pointless, nonsensical self-voice celebrity early this week.  And they were nice enough to introduce him in their usually lazy manner: he appears from nowhere, then someone shouts his name to let us all know who he is.  This time it was Otto, “Pharell Williams!”.  Thanks, Otto.

– And he’s gone, riding backwards out of town on a horse.  Well, at least that didn’t take too long.

– The weird reminiscence about “Stark Raving Dad” was kinda strange.

– Montage!

– But this montage got interrupted by Homer asking Bart what he was doing and Bart replying that he was writing a song.  Well done, Zombie Simpsons, usually you don’t have explicit exposition in the middle of a dialogue free montage.

– And they ended it with more needless explaining: “We did it, we wrote an awesome song!”

– The new song is also bad, and they had Bart and Lisa’s instruments disappear for no reason.

– So the song ends, and everyone stands up and claps.  Homer is stuck in his seat, tries to get out, and can’t.  Just in case, though, Exposition Marge says “Homer, it’s a standing ovation, get up.”  They really can’t help themselves.

– And now Homer is flinging a bench of seats around and tossing people across the room.  Also, there is screaming and exposition as Homer yells, “Stop fearing me!”.

– It just keeps going!  Homer: “Can’t you say something to help me feel better?”/Marge: “I’m sorry, but I can’t.”

– Marge just pulled a pamphlet from her hair.

– Homer is asking Comic Book Guy about the fat pride group.  Nice of them to explain things before we see them.  Otherwise we might be confused.

– “Now repeat after me”, there’s a phrase this episode could’ve done without.

– Guh, “I’ve always wanted to blindly follow somebody, and I think you just might be the guy”.

– Homer just got home and explained what we just heard him say.  Now they’re expositing the exposition.  If the universe collapses in on itself today, this may be why.

– Homer and Marge are “arguing” in the living room by restating what happened and telling us how they feel.

– Homer is listing fat insults at Moe’s.  It goes on for a quite some time, and while there are a couple that are okay, it’s mostly the kind of list that a show that hasn’t been phoning things in for over a decade would prune a bit, you know?  Here it’s just filler.

– Chief Wiggum is getting arrested and tased by Lou for some reason.

– Marge just bailed Homer out and restated the plot again.  It’d been almost a minute since that happened, so it was getting hard to remember.

– After the commercial break, Bart and Lisa asked Marge what’s wrong, and she recounted what we just saw.

– And then Bart replies that he and Lisa have learned that they can solve any problem through song.  They know that the script notes aren’t supposed to be recorded as dialogue, right?

– Bart and Lisa wrote a song again, so Marge introduced it by telling us about what we were about to see.

– And that got dropped like a rock, so Marge and Homer are now rehashing the story for the eleventh time or so.

– Homer’s giving a eulogy.  Sadly, it’s not for the series.

– And we end on Homer and Marge walking home and, you guessed it, talking about what just happened again.  Then there’s a montage of Homer’s body changing a bunch of times before we get to the future where Bart is Robocop.  No, I am not making that up.

Anyway, the numbers are in, and they are smoking crater level bad.  Last night, just 2.85 million people wondered whether Zombie Simpsons was trying to affirm or mock fat people.  That is the lowest number at 8:00pm ever, and second lowest all time behind only last year’s “Diggs”, which was broadcast at 7:30 and had 2.65 million viewers.

Granted, the Grammys were apparently on last night (I was kinda surprised they still bother to broadcast those), but that is a seriously bad number.  Just how bad is it?  Well, 60 Minutes, which exists primarily to frighten old people, did better among 18-49 year-olds than Zombie Simpsons.  That’s about as bad as it gets.


Sunday Preview: Walking Big & Tall


Lisa discovers that Springfield’s anthem was lifted from another town, so she composes a new one, while Homer gets a big lesson in “Wide Pride.”

Tonight’s guest hat is Pharell Williams. I find him to be quite entertaining, but I since I find zombie simpsons most unentertaining, I guess I will just have to miss whatever hijinks that are in store for him tonight.


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