The Monkey Suit
Je ne parle pas Francais
Couch gag: A series of family portraits from 2006-2013
Director: Raymond S. Persi
Melanie Griffith as herself
Larry Hagman as Wallace Brady
Synopsis: After discovering the evolution exhibit at the local museum, Ned Flanders encourages creation to be taught in schools.
Discussion: As I type this, there is a debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham about whether creation is a viable option of origins in today’s world (I’ll post the link when it’s finished- it’s currently live and probably finished by the time most people read this).
Anyhoo, the subject of science vs religion is not new to The Simpsons. We’ve seen Lisa getting her head around the angel fossil, for example. This episode doesn’t bring anything new to the table and although the ep was praised for “biting satire” and “encouraging critical thinking”, I don’t see it. What I do see is how the episode dodges all the main points of either point of view (POV). The central theme in the ep is Charles Darwin (something that Ken Ham is literally talking about as I type). Marge’s obsession with On the Origin of Species leads to her giving Homer a beer bottle in the court which somehow proves that Homer is related to a monkey, and to get Ned to admit it.
I get it, it’s supposed to be funny and satirical, but it comes across as a lame attempt to resolve the issue within the 20 minute constraints of the episode. Did we need this episode? No. It’s been done before, and sure, it’s a topical issue (particularly in Australian schools in 2014) but I don’t think The Simpsons is the correct place to be airing these sorts of issues. When you’ve got two polar opposites like Ned and Lisa, neither are going to budge on their belief systems so the episode cannot move forward nor add anything to the canon.
Having said that, there is so much more that can be added. What I’d really like to see is Lisa vs Ned on say, the book of Leviticus. (If you haven’t read Leviticus, it’s full of gems.)