Episode 10 - Politically Inept
9 January 2012
Synopsis: The Simpsons are trying to fly out to a wedding but are delayed for seven hours in their seats. Homer flips out and goes on an emotive rant about how passengers are treated. Bart films it and soon Homer is a viral sensation. Another rant at a talk show host gets him his own right wing talk show. His trademark tearful tirades soon launches a 'gravyboat' movement that puts him in the position of nominating the next Republican Presidential candidate. He plumps for Ted Nugent but Lisa tries to convince him to relinquish his influence.
The Good: This was ambitious, I'll give it that. If you ignore the overall episode and just pick and choose from satire about airlines, news talk shows, the tea party and politics in general then there was a lot here. I did laugh at the absurdity of Homer yelling "Mozart!" when the James Madison impersonator appeared.
The Bad: I would prefer it if the notoriously liberal Simpsons creative team had just gone after the "Tea Party" movement and right wing press and not tried to include Ted Nugent or airlines. There was just too much going on for any of it to be remotely plausible or emotive.
The airline satire was very broad with passengers kept on a flight for seven hours while the pilot shows no concern for their welfare. Homer's antics included a bunch of unnecessary physical impossibilities and I didn't really think his complaints had much resonance. The same general criticism was true when he appeared on talk show "Head Butt with Nash Castor" complete with obnoxious host and biased analysis. Homer is then given his own talk show and is suddenly full of opinions that make him cry which felt pretty forced. I could see him wanting to rant about things in his daily life but his sudden opinions about America were unconvincing. The crying was only forced into the story so that later on it would serve as the mark of his inability to summon real feeling toward Ted Nugent.
So we come to Nugent who the writers mock but only in a cartoon-like way. There was no real satire in taking Nugent's hunting and turning it up to eleven. It became plain silly when he shot Flanders in the head with an arrow and began firing children across the yard. The satire of the "Tea Party" seemed to focus on how unfair it was that one movement could dominate voting decisions. I doubt that was what the intention of the writers was because in a democracy that's what political parties end up doing. The James Madison impersonator was yet another twist thrown in which added only more confusion to the story and stretched credulity yet further. Are we supposed to think that Lisa hired a whole troupe of impersonators who threw Homer in the air using a giant copy of the constitution. The writers really needed a better editor for all these ideas.
Best Joke: The right wing network executives are thrilled with Homer and tell him that they only have eleven opinionated gas bags like him on air. They admit that they do have a liberal straw man too. We cut to a democrat singing about raising taxes and making people's children gay while a portrait of President Obama hugging Karl Marx hangs in the background. Now that was short, sharp and to the point.
The Bottom Line: A mess of an episode that had far too much in it.
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