Lifetime of Simpsons

S02 E13 – Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment

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Well, here’s another heavy morality episode. As cynical as the Simpsons seems to be towards religion, they really like to look at the morals of Christianity. And this is a great example of one of those stories.

We start off in Biblical times, where some ancestor of Homer is walking around as an extra in the Ten Commandments as a guy that they call Homer the Thief. He hangs out with a guy who makes engraven images, and Zohar the adulterer, who is obviously an ancestor of Jacques. They’re just hanging around, bein’ Hebrews, until Moses shows back up and we get the amazing line “Moses is back! Quick, everyone look busy!” Then Moses starts harshing everyone’s buzz by telling them that they can’t do the things that they’re named for. We then flash forward to the present where Homer is listening to Flanders yell at the cable guy for trying to convince him to install an illegal cable connection even though Flanders only wanted some sort of arts and crafts channel, because Flanders is the biggest dork ever. After Homer hears about the story, he runs after the cable guy, who agrees to hook him up with free cable for $50. He even has a handy pamphlet about the pros of cable-theft, because everyone has pamphlets in the Simpsons. The family comes home and are overjoyed to have 68 channels of cable for free! 68! Man that made me laugh, and it wasn’t even a joke.

The family begins enjoying the cable, even though they watch weird stuff like Mexican wrestling, Home Shopping Network, CSPAN, and the World Series of Cockfighting. But unfortunately Sunday comes around, and after Homer literally peels himself off the couch, they head to church. And we get another great Sunday School scene, where this time she’s teaching the kids about how terrible Hell is, and that they’re all going there unless they follow the Ten Commandments. I didn’t mention last time that my wife literally teaches Sunday School at the church she works at, so I showed her the scene, and asked her if it was realistic. She says that they never even talk about Hell to the kids, let alone tell them that they’re going to go there, which does seem to make more sense to me. You’d think churches would want to convince people to be good because it’s the right thing to do, not because otherwise they get to live in a fire hole. Although we do get two more great Bart questions, first asking if you would get used to Hell, like in a hot tub, and second if there were Pirates in Hell, and when he gets an affirmative he gets excited. Who doesn’t like pirates? But as they’re talking about Hell and the Ten Commandments, Lisa sees Thou Shalt Not Steal, and begins to get worried about the families souls.

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Bart has a great scene where he takes advantage of getting to use the word Hell with the family, which was totally something I did as a kid and wanted to try swearing in front of the family. We also get the amazing line of “Bart, you’re no longer in Sunday School, quit swearing.” When the family gets home they start watching cable, and come across an infomercial hosted by Troy McClure! I love Troy McClure so much. He’s so hilarious. I heard that Phil Hartman wanted to make a Troy McClure movie, and man do I wish that existed. Anyway, after his customary introduction where he lists some movies he was in (Here Comes the Coast Guard!) he introduces Dr. Nick who is there to shill something. But as the family is watching the show, Lisa starts to see them all burning in Hell with the Devil, and begins to freak out about the theft. Lisa begins seeing people stealing all around her, even Marge when she eats some grapes, and then Lisa gets super judgy and annoying when she starts guilting Marge into telling the cashier that she ate grapes.

Meanwhile, there’s a big boxing match coming up, and Homer tell the guys at work that he has cable, so they can all come watch it at his house. Although, this scene happens while they’re all showering together, because for some reason the Nuclear Plant workers shower after their shift? Weird. Anyway, word starts to spread around town that Homer has the fight, and everyone starts planning on being there, even Mr. Burns. Lisa however is continuing to be wracked with guilt, so she goes to talk to Reverend Lovejoy, asking him to explain theft to her, using the example of a hungry family stealing bread. There’s then a great exchange where Lovejoy asks her if Homer is stealing bread and she responds with “I don’t know, I don’t watch him every minute.” Lisa becomes even more confident that she’s right after the meeting. But while she’s talking to Lovejoy, Bart is watching some sort of porn channel, and gets busted by Homer, who makes him promise that he’ll never watch it again. And the show that he was watching was apparently called “Stardust Mammories,” which is amazing.

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Homer starts to get annoyed at Lisa’s morality, and ends up literally putting his foot down on the matter, deciding that they’re going to keep the cable. The sketchy cable-guy breaks into the Simpsons house to try and sell Homer something, so he decides to make the house a fortress. Then we get a scene of Bart charging the neighborhood kids to watch the porn channel, namely “Broadcast Nudes,” and he gets busted again. Bart is in trouble as people start to show up for the fight. Lisa announces that she will be sitting outside during the fight as protest, and no one cares. But she starts to guilt Homer when Moe shows up, and he has to hide all the beer mugs that he’s stolen from the bar, then again when Burns shows up and he has to hide all the office supplies he’s stolen. Then Eddie and Lou show up, and Homer starts to panic, until he realizes that they’re just there to watch the fight too. He gets increasingly scared, and ends up having a fantasy of himself in jail, and finally bends to Lisa’s will, and leaves the house with Bart, not letting them watch the fight. Everyone leaves, and Homer climbs the powerline pole to cut the cable, ending the episode with the great joke of him cutting the viewer’s cable as the screen turns to fuzz.

This was a pretty great episode, that got a little too preachy at parts. As someone who isn’t religious, I feel like the moral would have been a little more palatable if it wasn’t entrenched in Christian hangups. Having it all be based around Lisa being scared that she’s going to Hell doesn’t seem as legitimate as if she had just wanted to not steal because that’s not a good thing people do in society. Having it be a religious thing just makes it seem like she’s scared of the consequences, not that it’s a wrong thing. But that could be my own mistrust of religion making me say that. Overall it was a good episode, and shows that the family is constantly helping each other to become better people.

Take Away: Don’t steal. Yeah, pretty obvious, but it wasn’t exactly a subtle episode.

“Homer Vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment” was written by Steve Pepoon and was directed by Rich Moore

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