Episode 15 - Exit Through the Kwik-e-Mart
7 March 2012
Synopsis: Homer has actually bought a thoughtful gift for Marge. When Bart's gift (of a rabbit) inadvertently destroys his, Homer locks Bart in the rabbit cage. Bart takes his anger to the streets and litters the town with anti-Homer graffiti. The town seems impressed with his art and so he continues to make images mocking Homer and others which draw critical acclaim.
The Good: Nothing, this encapsulated the flawed writing of the modern Simpsons.
The Bad: The couch gag was a loving parody of the opening credits of HBO's Game of Thrones, a show that only began to realise its potential when we got to know the characters and began to care about them. The writers and animators clearly watch that show but don't appreciate how to bring any of those good qualities to the Simpsons.
What is so maddening is that they had an emotional story in their grasp and let it slip. The episode opens with Homer bragging to Lisa that he had bought Marge a food mixer for her birthday. Homer was bragging because he is aware that he normally forgets all about significant anniversaries. Not only has he got the gift but he plans on getting it signed by the celebrity chef behind the product. Paula Paul is kind enough to sign it and offer to call Marge, live from her show, to say happy birthday.
The next day Bart gives Marge a rabbit because he knows she had one when she was young. Homer gets everyone prepared for the phone call but it never comes and he is naturally furious. Then he discovers that the rabbit bit through the phone wires. Right there you have a cauldron of emotions to play with. Homer has finally done something right only to have it taken away by Bart. But Bart too was acting from good intentions.
Instead of building on what was a good story the writers have Homer lock Bart in the rabbit cage. Bart tries to further anger Homer by pretending that he likes it in there. Homer kicks him out after calming down but Bart is now mad. So he heads out to spread graffiti calling Homer stupid. Again the conflict is solid at this point but then things fall to pieces.
For a start the writers have Homer unable to see that he is the source of the mockery. Even when he does discover the truth we get no emotional reaction at all. Instead Homer has a silly argument with his brain which was not funny at all because it's only the thousandth time that we've heard a lame joke about how dumb he is. Naturally Bart's new acclaim as a street artist has no affect on his life or any emotional resonance. Instead it's an excuse to bring in Shepard Fairey, Ron English, Kenny Scharf, and Robbie Conal. They are all real-life graffiti artists who make pointless cameos. There is no sense that anything is actually being satirised because every joke in praise of street art is countered by one mocking the legality of pretensions of it.
The Homer-Bart feud is mended with no effort and the B plot with Apu was entirely forgettable (see Best Joke).
Best Joke: When Homer went to get his food mixer signed he had to go to the local super market. Apu showed up to protest the effect this place would have on his business. We had to endure a pointless sword fight (using the tiny tasting swords from a super market of course) before Apu returned to rob the store after the Kwik-e-Mart lost all its customers. Just as he was boarding up the store though Manjula arrived to tell him that the super market was closing down. "Do not give me false hope" he cries "like the time they told me it was only sextuplets."
The Bottom Line: Aside from the emotions already stirred up by the opening acts gift giving there was so much more that could have been done here. Bart's street art could have led to a whole story about his creative side. Or about the legality or place in the world of art and vandalism. Instead it was all flippant and breezy and pointless.
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