Couch gag: A newspaper headline reads: Couch Gag Thrills Nation
Director: Bob Anderson
Ronaldo as himself
Synopsis: Marge discovers the internet and becomes enthralled with a role-playing game online. Meanwhile, Lisa discovers soccer and Homer becomes her referee.
Discussion: Marge is a bit behind the times and only just discovered the internet. That’s OK, we forgive you. It’s when your parents discover Facebook that things get weird… Anyhoo, Marge clicks on a banner ad and finds an online role-playing game called Earthland Realms. It seems most of the townspeople are also involved with the game, including Bart, who is a character named Shadow Knight, feared by everyone in the game.
This episode is really interesting. It involves the whole town but in a different way, similar to those episodes with three stories contained within. It’s expanding the parent-child bonding themes with both Marge/Bart and Homer/Lisa involved in different plots. Homer and Lisa’s soccer plot starts about halfway through the episode but this relationship is a little different to what we’ve seen before: this time, Homer’s doing his best and succeeding at it, while Lisa is the one in the wrong. Marge and Bart’s relationship follows previous themes where Bart disappoints Marge, then makes it up to her. Either way, the family dynamics are further explored in this episode but with twists of a different place (the role-playing game) and Lisa doing something wrong instead of Homer.
Overall, it’s a very well-done episode and mostly enjoyable. As soon as soccer was mentioned, I groaned. I’m not a sports fan and I thought the main plot was interesting enough to take the whole episode and that we didn’t really need a subplot… but then Homer and Lisa aren’t doing anything else in the episode so may as well put them to good use. This subplot turned out to be pretty good anyway, although Ronaldo’s guest appearance felt awkward.