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The Simpsons

The Simpsons is an animated comedy about a family in the fictional town of Springfield. The family is made up of selfish father Homer, fretting mother Marge, precocious daughter Lisa, rebellious son Bart and silent daughter Maggie. FOX 1989-???

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Episode 18 - Beware My Cheating Bart

27 May 2012

Credit FOX

Synopsis: Jimbo enlists Bart to go on dates with his girlfriend Shauna to prevent other guys from hitting on her. She is flirtatious and unsure of herself and Bart falls for her. When Jimbo finds out they have been kissing they are forced to hide. Homer buys a new treadmill with an HD TV attached. He begins watching an old TV show “Stranded” (Lost) and soon stops running and gets wrapped up in the mysteries.

The Good: Parts of this were entertaining but nothing ever stuck. Naturally a Lost parody was going to appeal to me on a basic level. The sight of Jack finding his old cat inside a coconut was all I needed to smile and the comments about broken promises and spoiler alerts were fun for what they were. I also liked the basic premise of Homer giving up on actually running on his treadmill because he had found an addictive new TV show. That’s a concept most viewers will directly relate to.

Bart love stories seem inherently interesting to me. Both his pre-pubescence (which provides a natural obstacle) and his naturally nihilistic temperament have to be seriously challenged for him to get interested in someone. The story of Shauna the promiscuous girl with identity issues had potential.

Bill Plympton’s couch scene was sweet and very different to what you normally see. It depicted a story where the couch was like Homer’s old girlfriend.  

The Bad: Neither story seemed to have much to say. Homer’s obsession created brief and instantly resolved tension with Marge. That aside it was just a shameless excuse to mock Lost and its lack of answers. I’ve seen many a dig levelled at Lost and there was nothing original or interesting about The Simpson’ take on it.

Bart’s story never took time to tell us more than what was on the surface. Shauna was interestingly characterised through her sexuality. She only knew how to relate men through it and rewarded Bart’s kindness with a flash of her breasts. In what could have been a fascinating direction Bart was both fascinated and scared by the sight (He actually exclaims that they are “just like Dads”). He even claims “he’s just not ready” for them. However he is seduced by Shauna and they begin making out.

No issue was made of their age difference which was strange. Considering how sexually aware she seemed to be it felt a little odd. I was struck by the comparison with Bart’s previous crush on Jimbo’s ex Laura Powers (408). Back then there was no possibility that she would have been interested in a physical relationship with Bart and it gave his crush a sweet desperation. Here the actual relationship between Shauna and Bart felt irrelevant and just an excuse for a montage full of movie references. The plot ended with Bart getting a beating and Homer seeing and ignoring it which summed up the irrelevant nature of it all.

I also noticed that the writers basically split the episode into sections. Each bit of straight plot development would be concluded with a dire bit of comedy. Clearly the task of blending the humour in has become too tough for them and so we got little nonsense skits instead. So when Bart gets caught kissing Shauna the scene morphs into a long sequence of dull jokes about the lifeguard at the pool. Later Homer gathers Moe’s regulars into his living room so they can talk about “Stranded.” After he and Marge bicker Moe, Lenny and Carl actually pull guns on one another. Yes you read it right. Finally when Bart and Shauna take refuge in the Androids Dungeon, Comic Book Guy steps in to provide some “humour” as he and Shauna write mean things about one another online. None of these gags had any connection to the plot and their forced nature contributed to their lack of success.

Best Joke: Bart’s reaction to the breasts, “Oh my god! It’s just like Dad’s!” was unexpected and fun.

The Bottom Line: It still saddens me to see good plots not given proper attention and this had one of them.

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