The Simpsons, Seasons 21-31. Season 21, Episode 1: “Homer the Whopper”

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The Simpsons premiered on December 17, 1989. I was 9 years old. The 31st season of The Simpsons premiered on September 29, 2019, my 39th birthday. I grew up with the series. Around season three America was drowning in Simpsons march, and we loved it. I firmly believe that if we were still wearing “Don’t have a cow, man” t-shirts nothing bad would ever happen. At the very least, Simpsons t-shirts would have been just as effective at preventing COVID as anything that the president ever touted (the site went on hiatus pre-pandemic. Remember those halcyon days of early 2020?).

I drifted away from The Simpsons during college around 11 years in, and apart from dipping in from time to time for the new “Treehouse of Horror” or an occasional highly touted episode, I’ve mostly stayed away. I haven’t been watching The Simpsons for twice the amount of time I watched The Simpsons, and I watched The Simpsons for more than a decade. That is an insane thing to think about. A lot of people my age stopped watching the show before people who currently watch the show were even born.

Given that there’s a couple of decades of content that I haven’t seen, I thought it might be fun to watch and review the last 10 years of The Simpsons, seasons 21-31, 2009-2020. I’m going to put out a new review every Monday, beginning tomorrow and finishing up uh…whenever 10 seasons worth of Mondays is from now. So strap in.

“Homer the Whopper” (First aired September 27, 2009)

Watch out, Radioactive Man! It’s a thinly recycled Simpsons plot!

Or is it? Turns out is but not of the episode I thought. I wrote that first line before watching the episode. I’ll get to it below when I cover the plot.

The episode ends with an okay couch gag, made better because the Springfield subway line is 1/2/3/9, a nice nod to the old 7th Avenue line that included a 9 train until 2005. When I moved to NYC for law school in 2007 my school bookstore still sold postcards that featured the 9. That should have been my first clue it wasn’t exactly a top tier school. Also nice “El Barto” graffiti tag in the background.

All sigh indeed.

Bart and Milhouse decide to amuse themselves by exasperating Comic Book Guy, because Comic Book Guy is easily exasperated. They accomplish this by pretending not to know that the movie Spider-Man is based on a comic book. Bart and Milhouse discover Comic Book Guy’s own comic creation, Everyman, and they surprise him by exclaiming that they genuinely love it. Comic Book Guy starts producing it for general consumption and the comic becomes a huge hit.

Ginormous Pictures buys the rights to Everyman and the only thing that Comic Book Guy insists upon as a concession is that he gets to cast the lead. Auditions take place in the store. They audition three people: two unnamed actors and Krusty (who owns an Amiga fax machine). Homer comes into the store, says something dopey about needing changed for a dollar and a dollar, and is cast on the spot. Feels like they could have done a lot more with the audition scene and this is a big missed opportunity. One of several to come.

Cut to Ginormous Pictures, which is advertising its two big current releases(?) on the exterior of the studio: Star Wars Episode VII: The Apology (Given the repudiation of Episode 8 in Episode 9 they were only two off with the title) and Alvin and the Chipmunks 3: Gettin’ Rabies (hoo boy). The executives decide that Homer needs a trainer because a cross section of people who looked at his picture immediately stared at the sun in an attempt to blind themselves. Homer gets trainer to the stars Lyle McCarthy (voiced by Seth Rogen. I did not realize this while watching). Lyle whips Homer into shape by utilizing the “fast forward one month” technique after a montage proves to be too difficult. There’s also an inexplicable moment that occurs if you’re watching this episode on Disney + like I was. Lyle says, “Something bad happens and you cram a donut in your mouth” and Homer replies, “Well you don’t always have time to *bleep*” I looked it up and the word they bleeped was “masturbate.” Disney + censored one of the only funny jokes in the episode.

Lyle gets a new job and has to stop training Homer. The moment he leaves Homer goes to craft services and eats every cube of cheese. Homer is fat once again, and now the episode title makes sense, as the deeply disappointing plot of the episode is revealed.

Homer fills the Kwik-E-Mart with vomit after chewing up milk from 1961 in an attempt to vomit himself thin, the preview of the movie is an awful bomb because they stitched together scenes of fat Homer and thin Homer, Comic Book Guy sinks any chance of the film being successful by giving it an honest assessment online (“Worst.Movie.Ever.”), and legislation is passed ensuring that the Everyman will never be screened again. Season 21, episode one is in the books.

No real B or C plot to speak of and an A plot that mostly abandons comic book movie parody in favor of telling a “Homer gets thin, Homer gets fat again story.” Instead of ripping off the Radioactive Man episode instead The Simpsons rips off “King of the Hill” from season 9.

Best joke: After Comic Book Guy reveals Amazing Fantasy #15 featuring the introduction of Spider-Man (cover price 12 cents) Bart pulls out a dollar and says he’ll take 8.

Worst joke: All of the parody movie titles are beyond awful.

Rating system: I will be rating each episode on a scale of 0-5 D’ohs.

Rating: 1.5 D’ohs. I actually wish that The Simpsons had been more obvious here and made the whole episode a superhero parody instead of making the plot about Homer getting fat again after his trainer leaves. Everyman was a fun concept and they could have made an episode full of gags about him taking on the powers of a bunch of different superheroes.

Stray bits:

  • “Who knew a troubled person could be creative?” followed up by Nelson spray painting Guernica on the playground.
  • In addition to Chipmunks 3: Gettin’ Rabies, the theater where the Everyman preview plays is showing Welcome Back, Potter (Harry Potter is old) and Eddie Murphy in Fat Suit.
  • The Grasshopper Raptor eats Ben Kingsley

I hope you enjoyed my review of “Homer the Whopper.” Stop by next Monday for Season 21, Episode 2: “Bart Gets a Z.”

I’m not doing much on social media these days but I do have a short story to promote. It’s called Where Everybody Knows Your Name and it’s available for Kindle on Amazon.

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