Oof. Here’s a depressing kick in the gut. I love Grandpa Simpson so much. He’s so loud and unpleasant. And this is his first chance to really shine. This season has been making baby steps in branching away from the direct family, letting more ancillary characters get their stories heard, like Mr. Burns, and then the family members who aren’t part of the nuclear family, like Patty and Selma, and now Grandpa. One of the reasons I loved this show so much was it’s ability to maintain a staggeringly huge cast of characters, letting them live and breathe in the insane world they built. I love the Simpson family, but it’s nice to get out of 742 Evergreen Terrace every once and a while.
The episode starts with the Simpsons dropping Grandpa off back at the Retirement Castle after a wonderful trip to the liquor store. Grandpa is depressed about his loneliness, and the family is feeling pretty depressed about Grandpa in general. They drive home, trying to think of future things to do with him on their monthly visit, including something called the Museum of Barnyard Oddities that Bart is stumping for, while Homer makes the kids swear they never put him in a crappy home like he put Grandpa. It’s super fun to tell your parents that you’re going to put them in a bad home if they don’t stop sassing you. Give it a try! Anyway, they of course come across a billboard for a discount lion safari that’s somehow in Springfield, and they decide that that’s the perfect place to bring Grandpa!
Back at the Retirement Castle Grandpa is walking around the incredibly bleak hallways, trying to get his daily pills, and there he bumps into new resident, Bea, and they pretty much fall in love at first sight. The two head to a small table in what passes for the dining hall, and they get to know each other while seductively taking their pills. It’s a super strange scene, but hey, you work with what you got. Grandpa then tries to ask Bea out on a date, getting frustrated that it still hasn’t gotten any easier in old age, and the two head off to go dancing, after Grandpa get’s all dressed up. I briefly want to mention that when they go dancing we see a band that used to be in a lot of the old Simpsons episodes, the Larry Davis Experience. I know they’ve shown up before, I just keep forgetting to mention them. What’s up with them? They’re just like, a sad band that performs everywhere in Springfield? The name seems oddly vague and specific at the same time, like they knew someone named Larry Davis and the show was making fun of them, or maybe they were even based off a real depressing band that one of the writers knew. I have no answers, and didn’t want to do any cursory googling, I just felt like mentioning them.
Anyway, Bea’s birthday is coming up, so of course Grandpa goes to Herman’s Military Antiques to get her a present. But unfortunately there wasn’t a lot for an old lady there, even though Grandpa was tempted with what Herman claims is Napoleon’s fez, so he ends up going to a store called Grandma’s World and getting her a shawl. He’s all set to wow her on her birthday when Homer and the family show up to take him on their monthly outing, to the lion safari this time. Grandpa complains that tells them he’s busy and that he has a girlfriend, but Homer assumes he’s just being senile, and forces him to come on the safari. The safari is pretty lame, and Grandpa bitches the whole time, but when Homer takes a wrong turn they end up in a place they aren’t supposed to be and get attacked by a gang of lions after their tire gets stuck in mud. So they get to spend the whole night stuck in this fake jungle with a pride of lions laying on their car. The next morning someone comes to save them, and Grandpa gets back to the Retirement Castle, devastated that he missed Bea’s birthday, but then gets stopped by Jasper, and learns that while he was trapped with the lions, Bea had a ventricle burst, and died.
Grandpa blames Homer, and tells him he doesn’t want to see him any more. Grandpa is even more depressed, sitting alone in his room, when Lionel Hutz shows up, since he’s the only lawyer in town, informing Grandpa that he’s the executor of Bea’s will, and she left all her money to Grandpa. Grandpa gets $106,000 on the stipulation that he uses the money to make himself happy. He calls Homer back to gloat about the money, then sets out to make himself happy. He stops by at Herman’s and buys the fez, then starts going around town, trying to find something that will make him happy, and get him out of this depression. But nothing is working. He just can’t make himself happy without Bea. Then when he’s on a roller coaster at some place called Diz-Nee Land, which is legally distinct from Disney Land, he get’s visited by Bea’s ghost, who tells him that he should use the money to make others happy, and that he should reconnect with Homer.
Grandpa forgives Homer, and comes to a family dinner where he announces his plan to give the money to whoever he deems worthy. So he puts out a call, and the whole town starts to show up at the Retirement Castle, all with crazy plans. Apparently the Joker is even there. Grandpa should not give him any money. He’ll probably just cut his face off. But it’s quickly established that the whole town has terrible ideas. Otto wants to trick out the bus, Frink has a death ray, Monroe wants an evil experiment box, and Moe has a treasure hunt. And obviously none of those are good plane, so Grandpa starts to feel depressed again, still unable to find a worthy cause that would make him happy. He ends up deciding he doesn’t have enough money to make any real difference, so thanks to Jasper’s wisdom, Grandpa decides to go to a casino and double his money. They end up going to the Plato’s Republic Casino and Hotel (that joke is amazing) and he starts to gamble. Homer learns about the gambling trip, and races to the casino, and is able to stop Grandpa from losing all the money on a roulette spin. Grandpa then realizes what a terrible plan that was, and heads back to the Retirement Castle, still puzzled over what would make him happy. He then looks around, and realizes that him and the other residents live in squalor, and knows what he has to do. He spends all the money on the old folks home, renovating it so that it’s an actually nice place to live, much to the gratitude of the other residents. The end.
This was a really amazing episode. We finally got a look into what makes Grandpa tick, and saw how truly sad his life has become. Grandpa is usually played off as a joke, but this episode really made him a tragic figure. There’s not much in his life that makes him happy, then when he meets a woman that makes him feel young again, she’s taken from him. His quest to find happiness and redemption is really interesting, and handled with the classic Simpsons deftness, managing to make it both emotionally satisfying, and funny throughout. It’s a great episode.
Take Away: Sometimes the key to making yourself happy, is to make others happy. Oh, and don’t trust people who say they have Napoleon’s hat. Damn you Herman!
“Old Money” was written by Jay Kogen & Wallace Wolodarsky and directed by David Silverman
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons