Flashback episode everybody! I absolutely love the flashback episodes that show Homer and Marge’s relationship in the past, how it’s grown and matured. And the episodes that show the kids when they were younger. It’s the kind of thing that a live-action sitcoms just can’t do. Yeah, they frequently attempt to show their characters as they were, but it usually looks terrible, just bad make-up and tacky fashion to show how different things were. It kind of bums me out that apparently the modern episodes have messed with the timeline, which I suppose is a necessity since it doesn’t really work that Homer and Marge met in the 70’s anymore, but I feel like it would be better to just not address it rather than mess with such a great continuity. But I guess I’ll get there in two years when I reach the modern ones.
Before the flashback starts we get a great joke with the family sitting around watching some sort of parody of the Siskel and Ebert show, where they’re talking about McBain. I love the McBain movie that we always see clips of. I’ve seen a video where someone spliced all the disparate clips of McBain together to make a somewhat followable narrative, and it’s great. Anyway, while they’re watching the show the TV goes on the fritz, so Homer does what any man would. He starts smacking the hell out of it. But shockingly that didn’t work, and he ends up breaking the TV. While Bart becomes mired in dispair, Homer and Marge begin telling the kids stories. Lisa first asks how Homer proposed, but all that leads to is a flashback where Homer and Marge is told by Dr. Hibbert that she’s pregnant, since they had a shotgun wedding. I love that one constant in flashback episodes is that you can always tell the era by whatever hairstyle Dr. Hibbert has, in this case a big-ass afro.
Instead of telling that story, they decide instead to tell the kids how they first met. So we get to see them in highschool in the 70’s. I love that Homer hears the Carpenters “Close to You” on the radio, which would become their song, and decides instead to switch it over to the Steve Miller Band’s “the Joker,” as Homer tries to sing along. I saw Steve Miller Band perform a few years back, and it was a hell of a concert. Hoer gets to school and meet up with Barney, and they decide to go smoke in the bathroom. Flashback episodes of any kind always make ironic joke, which can often be clunkers, and despite how good this episode is, having Barney tell Homer that he can eat whatever he wants and never gain a pound is a pretty dumb joke. Homer and Barney get detention for smoking, and we cut over to Marge and her friend. Her friend is telling her about the feminist movement, and Marge is quickly convinced she should be protesting for equal-rights, but after burning her bra she too gets detention. And then Homer sees her for the first time, and instantly falls in love while “Close To You” starts to play in his head.
I love that Homer tries to ask Marge out in the detention room, even though each word he says gets him more detention. But Marge isn’t into Homer, and deflects his advances. We then get to see teenaged Homer getting advice from Abe. And boy do you get the feeling that Homer’s life with Abe sucked. The house is filthy, and they both seem super unhapy. All the episodes I’ve seen just gloss over that period in Homer’s life, and man it would be depressing to see it. Anyway, he asks Abe for advice to woo Marge, and he basically just says that Homer shouldn’t try to date someone whose obviously better than him. Homer decides to ask his guidance counselor for advice, and he just tells him to share interests with Marge, so he goes and joins debate club. And when he goes to debate club we get to meet Artie Ziff, who is awesome. Pretty much all the characters that Jon Lovitz did on this show were great, though they were usually one-offs. But Artie is so great, the snotty little shit. And his afro is awesome.
The debate team isn’t working though, so when Homer learns that Marge tutors French, he lies to her that he’s in French class and needs help, so she comes over to help him. Almost immediately Homer tries to hit on Marge, but she doesn’t want any of it, so she actually ends up teaching him French, with a brief break so they could dance to “the Hustle.” But when Marge gets ready to leave to study for the debate, Homer convinces her to stay, and they end up having a great time. At the end of the night, Homer takes a shot and asks her to prom, and she agrees, but then like an idiot Homer lets slip that he’s not in French class, and that he tricked her. Marge gets pissed and leaves, but an oblivious Homer assumes that they’re still on for the prom.
Back at school, Artie decides to ask Marge to the prom, and since she canceled with Homer, she takes him up on it. Of course, Homer doesn’t realize that she canceled, so he’s still preparing to go with her. She then starts to get ready for prom, and we get the great line from Mrs. Bouvier, “ladies pinch, whores use rouge.” While Marge is getting ready Homer shows up and we get to see teenaged Patty and Selma and Marge’s dad, who are all ashamed that Marge picked Homer. She comes down and is shocked to see Homer, and he has to leave in embarrassment when Artie comes to pick her up. So they all head to the prom, which is “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” themed. Marge and Artie have a great time, and they’re even crowned King and Queen. While Homer skulks around by himself, growing more and more depressed. I never went to prom in high school, half because I never have a shit about that sort of stuff, and half because I was a loser and never could get a date, so prom stories never have that much weight to me. They just seem like such frivolous and stupid things. But whatever, people like them.
Marge finds Homer crying in the hallway, and he gets more rejection, as she leaves with Artie. They go to “Inspiration Point” and Artie starts trying to take advantage of Marge, even ripping her dress. But she slaps him and demands she drive him home. Meanwhile, Homer’s limo rental has ended, and he’s walking home in the dark alone, which Marge sees as they drive by. Artie drops Marge off, and just as she’s getting home she hears her parents bad-mouthing Homer. She feels back for him, and drives off to find Homer, whose still walking home. She picks him up, tells him that he should have been her prom date, and as he mends her dress with his corsage, they begin to fall in love, and we get Homer’s wonderfully sweet line of “I’m going to hug you, and kiss you, and I’m never going to be able to let you go.” The flashback is then over and we see Homer and Marge cuddling, Lisa captivated, and Bart not giving a shit and trying his damndest to fix the TV.
This was such an amazing episode. I’ve mentioned before that I love Homer and Marge’s relationship, and it was great to see it’s beginning. The story of their meeting and the blossoming of their love is so great. The episode does fall in a standard groove when it makes jokes based on things that we know are going to happen, like Marge saying she’ll wear her hair up, or Homer laughing at the idea of working at the nuclear plant, but generally it take full advantage of it’s 70’s time-frame and is just a lot of fun. It’s very sweet and funny, and just an all around great episode. Bravo.
Take Away: The take away that first come to mind is that if you keep hounding a girl to like you, she’ll eventually cave and end up marring you, which is a pretty terrible notion. It’s a popular trope in the media, and a really appalling one, so I’m going to ignore that and just decide that the take away for this episode is that love is nice. And that you’re metabolism will catch up with you.
“The Way We Was” was written by Al Jean, Mike Reiss, and Sam Simon and directed by David Silverman.