Here we go, back to a good episode. Sorry “Homer’s Odyssey,” I’ll stop being mean to you now. This episode starts right off with a great joke, the kids arguing over who loves Homer more, with the loser of the argument loving Homer the most. It’s a great joke, but holy shit could you imagine if you heard your kids say that in real life. That would be devastating! But it’s a good joke, so, oh well
Anyway, we get into the setup of the episode, which is all that the family have to go a company picnic which is being held at Mr. Burns’ mansion, and the family has to behave. Now, I’ve only worked for one real office job, but it seems strange to me that the picnic is at the bosses house. That just doesn’t seem like it makes sense, but who knows. I also think it’s weird that Marge makes a bunch of Jello molds. I get that the joke is that they think he likes them, so they make a bunch, but maybe Jello just went out of style by the time I was a kid, because I don’t remember ever seeing anyone have a whole blob of Jello with little marshmallows and stuff floating around in it.
But logistical concerns aside, they get to Burns’ mansion where they see white Smithers, apparently he was just really tan last episode, and we see Burns needing cards to know the Simpsons family members. I love how callus and apathetic Mr. Burns is toward his employees. I would of course hate to have him as a boss, but man his lack of people skills delights me. Homer decides to curry favor with Burns by having the family pretend they get along, after all as Homer says “as far as anyone knows, we’re a nice, normal family.” Of course, things go down the drain pretty quick. Marge gets drunk off punch, Lisa is running around in the fountain, and Bart tries to actually win the mandatory sack race instead of just letting Burns win like always. Once the day is finally over, Burns kicks them all out of his home, and Homer sees some weirdly perfect family. And boy, do they seem like a drag. My family was never as dysfunctional as the Simpsons, but we were also never bland little perfect people. But it seems like it would suck to be in such a courteous family. You need to be mean to each other. But we do get a super creepy scene after the perfect family where Homer sees his family as really weirdly drawn demons, beckoning him to hell. We also get one of the Simpsons favorite references “one of us, one of us, one of us.” I just recently saw Freaks for the first time, so I feel like the joke tickled me more than usual.
Homer starts to feel bad about how boorish his family is, just sitting in front of the TV, eating their TV dinners, and makes them go sit in the dining room and say grace. I’ll say, I’m not a religious man. At all. And my family isn’t really either, so I never had to say grace, but my wife and her family is, and every time I hear them say it I really want to join in with “rub a dub dub, thanks for the grub.” Homer then makes them creep around the neighborhood to spy on other families, which is so sketchy. After they almost get shot though, Homer gives up and goes to Moe’s to get drunk.
Then there’s an oddly sweet barfight between Homer and Barney after Barney insults the family. That’s kind of sweet I guess, that Homer would fight for the honor of his family. But Homer gets his inspiration for the rest of the episode when he sees an ad for Dr. Marvin Monroe’s Family Therapy on the TV, which I find hilarious that a Family Therapy office advertises during boxing matches. But the family goes to the office, after pawning their TV to a super creepy pawn shop employee (which is guess is redundant. Zing!). I love that the perfect family from earlier is shown being angry in the waiting room.
So, like I said in an earlier recap, I studied psychology in college, but I’ve never once had any desire to be a therapist of any sort, I was more interested in the experimentation side, not that that panned out. And I think I realized watching this episode that Dr. Marvin Monroe is pretty much my model for a therapist. I’ve never actually been to one, but I kind of see them all as Dr. Monroe. Ineffectual and out for money. That’s probably a really skewed and wrong idea, but I’m curious how many things the Simpsons have put in my mind. Anyway, I love Dr. Monroe’s crazy electric chair therapy, because that could honestly be something that people would have tried back in the 50s when we had all sort of breakthroughs in psychology, and no ethics. They were a weird time.
But the family perseveres and scams Dr. Monroe and get double their money back from him. They’re then happy and decide to go buy a new TV. One that’s 21 inches! That may have been my biggest laugh in the whole episode.
Take Away: I feel like the thing I took away from this episode, besides my mental image of a therapist, is that families are going to be messed up. It’s boring to have some perfect little 50s family. You need the craziness. That’s what makes it fun.
“There’s No Disgrace Like Home” was written by Gregg Vanzo & Kent Butterworth and was directed by Al Jean & Mike Reiss