The Simpsons kicked off their latest episode with another of (one of TV’s best Moms) Marge’s crusades focusing on the betterment of her children’s lives. This time, she introduces anti-bullying legislation at the Springfield town meeting after Bart is bullied and humiliated in front of a girl at school dance. Once simple taunts take place – in one case, the throwing of snowballs, and in another, Krusty shattering a writer’s cell phone – Chief Wiggum takes to arresting offenders of the anti-bullying law.
Naturally, Wiggum’s definition of the word “bully” becomes extremely liberal as half the town ends up in jail, including Homer for his systematic abuse of Ned Flanders. Homer and others are sentenced to bullying rehab therapy. The therapist, voiced by Albert Brooks, attempts to cure the overall need to bully by delving into everyone’s inner demons. With Homer, it’s why he hates Ned Flanders so much. The answer comes when Homer realizes Ned is better than him in every way.
The episode culminates with “reformed bully” Homer celebrated as a local hero, which rubs Flanders incredibly wrong considering Homer shows little to no remorse for his years of bad actions. Even when Homer gets down on his hands and knees to beg for forgiveness, Flanders won’t budge. Finally, after what appeared to be several days and nights, Flanders finally forgives Homer just before Homer sinks into the front lawn.
Overall, the episode was a decent entry. It’s very nice to further explore the Homer/Flanders relationship further and show that Flanders, despite his immense religiosity, isn’t above wanting redemption and satisfaction when he’s been wronged. After all the things Homer has done (and most likely will continue to do), it’s good to see them sort of enter into another tentative friendship, fostered by proximity and proximity only. Oddly enough, given that it aired on Monday’s day, Marge was almost completely absent from the episode. Still, it was a decent episode given the quality male-bonding and penance paid by Homer.
As usual, here are some of the visual gags / joke highlights from the episode:
- The invitation to the school dance reads “Why don’t we do it in the gym?”s
- The night of the dance, the banner in front of Springfield Elementary reads “Awkward memories begin here.”
- Debating on whether or not to dance with a girl, Bart is visited by the “puberty demon” whose voice cracks continuously, has hairy pits, and severe acne in addition to the usual devil horns and hooves.
- When Krusty is arrested for bullying, he demands a quick prison joke from his writers. One responds with “How about ‘Orange is the New Blecch?”
- Chief Wiggum’s office contains a picture of Ralph picking his nose and a “To Do” list that reads “Make list.” It also has a framed dollar bill that reads “First bribe.”
- Convicted of bullying, Homer is sentenced to “Biff Stiffler’s Bully Re-education Center,” which I thought was the guy from Back to the Future but that’s Biff Tannen so the joke’s not nearly as funny as I first thought it was. Shame. Should have been Biff Tannen.
- Flanders’ famous mimosa contains “a little sparking water and a glass full of regular water.”
- The episode closes with a continuation of an earlier Otto acid trip where he interacts with Miss Drizzle from the Magic Schoolbus. She drives the bus inside of his head and he freaks out. When he wakes, he’s actually a jury foreman.