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Homer the Father

Billboard: Springfield Seafood: 50% more eyes and a picture of Blinky, the three eyed fish.

Prince is not the son of Martin Luther King

Couch gag: The Simpsons chase the couch through the pages of Springfield Shopper newspaper

Director: Mark Kirkland

Guest Voices:
Michael Paul Chan as Chinese agent
James Lipton as himself
David Mamet as himself
Garry Marshall as Sheldon Leavitt

Synopsis: Homer takes parenting advice from an 80s sitcom, telling Bart he should earn his dirt bike instead of Homer just buying it for him. Annoyed, Bart sells nuclear secrets to China in exchange for the dirt bike.

Discussion: Hands up, who loves sitcoms from the 1980s? *raises hand* Family sitcoms in the 80s followed a specific formula and it worked well for most of them. The ones that failed were usually due to cast issues, budget or just chemistry- they were missing that zing.

Homer is rediscovering 80s sitcoms and decides that since everything turns out for the best in sitcom world, he may as well try it on his own son. So when Bart wants a dirt bike, Homer tells him he has to earn it for himself. Dissatisfied with pulling good grades and not getting the bike, Bart resorts to selling nuclear secrets to foreign agencies.

Look, I like the premise. Everyone loves a bit of nostalgia and the fake Thicker Than Waters brilliantly captures the heart and soul of family sitcoms from the 80s, where the kids turned out perfect and problems were solved in half an hour. Bart selling nuclear secrets took the premise one step too far, twisting the sitcom genre entirely yet still showing the differences between functional families of the 80s and dysfunctional families of the 90s. The Simpsons started as an antithesis to those very sitcoms, showing the average American family as a dysfunctional unit who still loved and cared for one another as well as embracing morals and values. Oh come on, they totally do. Bart does a lot of bad stuff but always feels guilty for doing it. From shoplifting a video game to selling nuclear secrets, he always goes back and tries to amend things so that it all turns out OK. He does know his wrong from right, as most kids do, but the difference is that Bart acts upon these ideas, usually for selfish reasons. Deep down he does value his family, including his sisters.

Where was I? Right. Mostly, this episode is enjoyable, I just think Bart’s storyline takes it one step too far. It’s like ‘The Crepes of Wrath‘ but with a twist.

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