Guess Who’s Coming to Criticize Dinner?
I am not The Last Don
Couch gag: Matt Groening’s name is written on the carpet. Marge scrubs it off but an animated Matt re-writes it.
Director: Nancy Kruse
Ed Asner as the newspaper editor
Synopsis: Homer is employed as a food critic, but when the other critics deride him for never giving a bad review, Homer’s articles now spark outrage from local food markets who plot to kill him.
Discussion: Homer as a food critic seems a logical choice; he does eat a lot of food. However, he does so indiscriminately, which is why all his reviews are glowing. In a satirical look at the power of the media, the residents of Springfield grow obese as a direct result of Homer’s reviews. The other critics point out that he needs to give a bad review, so he does. This turns business sour so the food operators decide to kill Homer with a poisoned eclair. Simples!
This episode shows a lot of promise but I’m not sure it really delivers. I think the death plot is just too out-there for it to be plausible. Yes, this is a sitcom and yes, this is an animated series, but the show often deals with real life themes and situations so throwing in a death plot seems out of place and not really fitting with the overall show. Homer as a food critic is inspired, the death plot: not so much.
Special mention has to be made of two points:
1) The power of media to influence the masses. Currently in Australia, we have an election campaign where Rupert Murdoch’s media (he also owns the FOX Network, owner of The Simpsons) have been trying very hard to tarnish the reputation of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and get him voted out. Public opinion on this isn’t positive, however the power of the media and the fact that it has gone viral not only here in Australia but the world just shows that people are paying attention. Subconsciously, this may affect their vote. In this Simpsons episode, the residents of Springfield become obese because they’re eating at all the places Homer recommends. We can’t underestimate the power of the media, and this is satirised nicely. The Murdoch connection really stand out here.
2) In the scene where Lisa is trying to stop Homer from eating the eclair, pay attention to the camera angles and the way urgency is depicted. It’s brilliant, especially for an animated series.