Alone Again Natura-Diddly
My suspension was not “mutual”
Couch gag: The Simpsons are in bumper cars and bump Homer into a corner
Director: Jim Reardon
Shawn Colvin as Rachel Jordan
Synopsis: Maude Flanders dies and Homer encourages Ned to date again.
Discussion: It’s not very often in sitcoms that a character dies. Well, a character in the show, that is. Often an unseen character dies and humour is based around it. Having a known character die is something unusual, and often because the actor has died in real life (think Coach from Cheers).
This episode sees Maude Flanders die, and the character only appears again in flashbacks. Her voice actor left the show after a pay dispute so Maude, just one of the characters voiced by Maggie Roswell, was permanently killed off. Was this controversial? Of course. The act of killing off a character, the way in which Maude died, having Ned date again in the same episode…
Maude dies when Homer invites a barrage of T-shirts to be fired at him, but bends down at the last second, leaving the shirts to hit Maude, causing her to fall off the grandstand and die. It’s awful in every way. Death by T-shirts. The scene is uncomfortable but it’s probably supposed to be.
Ned spends about 10 minutes grieving before Homer sends in a dating tape and Ned begins dating again. These dates are pretty funny, especially his date with Edna (SPOILER ALERT: they end up getting married in a future ep). Shawn Colvin’s guest appearance is a definite highlight. The song is pretty cute too, if you’re into that sort of genre. It’s a shame we don’t see more of Rachel Jordan (besides an appearance in season 12); she and Ned make a cute couple and just think of Ned’s world being turned upside down because of rock music!
One critic wrote that the three separate arcs- Maude’s death, Ned’s dates and Ned questioning his faith- could each hold their own episode. I agree with this assessment. The episode feels rushed, as if Maude is quickly swept under the rug, never to be spoken of again, and Ned gets on with his life.