Man this episode is good. Ned Flanders is really one of my favorite secondary characters, which is probably a little odd since most of his shtick is to be the obnoxious religious guy, which is a person I can’t stand in real life. But Ned is great, and I love learning about him. Plus, it’s so funny to watch this episode and realize that it kind of sets up two of my favorite episodes of all time, but I’ll get to that later.
Things start off with an episode on Eye on Springfield, which is always a good sign. Kent Brockman talks about the Kill-Bot Factory, also known as an Army base, before letting us know that there’s a big football game coming up. Of course the rival is Shelbyville, and Brockman helps gets people riled up about the big game between the Shelbyville Sharks and the Springfield Atoms. And obviously, Homer is psyched. He’s even so excited that he buys a scalped ticket from Bart, which is actually just a coupon for a wig store, which leads to the incredibly weird fantasy of Homer buying a Marge wig for himself. Anyway, Homer then heads to the stadium to wait in line for eight days before the tickets goes on sale, which was such a stupid thing humans used to do. Now when I’m psyched about a movie or a concert or something I just sit at a computer and hit refresh a bunch, and it goes off without a hitch, besides occasionally crashing the whole damned internet. Unfortunately the guy before Homer buys all the tickets in the whole stadium, and doesn’t even pay for them, so he’s still out of luck.
Homer is getting pretty sad at this point, until he gets to the Plant and hears on the radio that they’re going to have a call-in contest for some great seats. But he doesn’t win those either, and the person who does is his archnemesis, Ned Flanders. Homer then gets so mad that he punches the radio, causing it to switch to “Two Tickets to Paradise,” which is so rocking it takes Homer’s focus away and he starts playing the air-guitar, because Homer is adorable. So Homer goes home to talk to the family about ways that he could still get tickets while Lisa explains how stupid the rivalry with Shelbyville is, with some great examples. “They built a mini mall, we built a bigger mini mall, they built the world’s largest pizza, and we burned down their city hall.” Oh Springfield. We also learn that Shelbyville spiked Springfield’s water with LSD, as Marge starts tripping balls. So with no other options, Homer turns to prayer to get tickets, but only prays to a waffle Bart stuck to the ceiling. He then decides to just club Flanders over the head with a lead pipe before stealing the tickets. But when he goes to do that Flanders opens the door, and is okay with the whole brain smashing plan, or as he puts it give his “noggin’ and floggin’,” and actually offers to just take Homer to the game with him.
So we cut to the day of the big game, and Homer and Ned are getting ready to park when Homer sees Lenny and Carl walk by, and he makes Ned, who is driving, duck down so Homer doesn’t look like he’s hanging out with him. And as the game begins Homer finds that as Ned’s guest, he’s getting pampered like crazy, and gets all of his snacks paid for, including the worst idea of all time, the Nacho Hat. So the game goes on and Springfield ends up winning, which causes Homer to kiss Ned in glee and then mock the Shelbyville fans in the stands, who respond with throwing a keg at him. And the day gets even better when they stay after for autographs, and it turns out Ned knows the star quarterback, who even gives Homer the game ball. So all of these wonderful moments pile up and Homer decides that he is now friends with Ned.
And understandably, this really weirds the family out since Homer has had nothing but contempt for Ned the entire eight years they’ve lived next to him. Lisa even makes a sick burn where she compares Homer being friends with Ned like Bart having A’s on his report card. So Homer starts hanging out with Ned, and right away you start to see that Homer is a pretty awful friend. He breaks Ned’s pool-table to trying to lay on it, tries to make Rod and Todd watch non-Christian television, and makes Ned go to Moe’s. And man do I love the gag that Ned knows Moe because he apparently reads books about horses to sick girls in the hospital. And Homer just escalates the obnoxiousness from there. He invites himself to the Flanders’ dinner, by climbing through their window, and tags along with Ned to do charity work at the hilariously named Helter Shelter. Homer shows up and they think he’s a homeless guy, and after giving him a terrible suit he starts serving soup like crazy, since he just wants to get out of there. But people misconstrue this as a passion for charity, and he even gets written up in the newspaper as a philanthropist.
And this really starts to grate on Ned. He starts disliking Homer, but is too nice a guy to say anything, so he even agrees to go on a weekend trip with the two families. We notice around here that Bart and Lisa are still weirded out about the Homer/Ned friendship, but Lisa has apparently broken the fourth wall and has realized that they always have wacky adventures, but things always balance out by the end, so they roll with it. So the families head out to spend time at a lake while Homer makes them listen to his “Rappin’ Ronnie Reagan” tape, which is just Ronald Reagan saying “well” over and over with some scratching sounds. And pretty quickly we see Ned start to crack, as Homer acts like a jerk with his boat, Rod and Todd get fed Pixie Sticks by Bart and turn into monsters, and the Simpsons initiate a food fight during dinner. So Ned leaves early, or at least tries to, since Homer crashes the speed boat onto Ned’s car, crushing it. Ned then gets homer and has a really messed up dream where he climbs to the top of a bell tower and starts sniping people while calling them Homer, which makes him realize that he hates Homer Simpson.
We then get to the third act, and things get crazy. We have the famous scene of Homer oozing through the shrubs between their two houses like the T-1000, trying to hang out with Ned, before chasing after their car with golf-clubs in his hands. It’s a really funny chase scene where Homer clings to their car while Ned is mad their car is a Geo. And when he finally manages to shake Homer, he gets pulled over by Chief Wiggum since he was driving like a lunatic. And since Ned has horrible luck this episode, a church bus comes by and assume that he was arrested for drunk driving. So Ned and the family head to church, worrying that they’ll judge him for being pulled over, and he finds that the has to sit next to Homer, who saved him some seats. Then after hearing Reverend Lovejoy congratulate Homer on his charity work, Ned finally loses his mind when Homer’s nose whistles during prayer time. He completely blows up and starts yelling at Homer about how annoying he is, which causes the whole church to start yelling at Ned. But Homer comes to his rescue, and tells the whole church that Ned is awesome and everyone should be lucky to know him. Ned is incredibly grateful, and it seems like the two are actually going to be friends now, which really confuses Bart and Lisa. But the episode ends with a wonderful joke of Homer telling the family that they’ve been bequeathed a haunted mansion, but they have to stay in it over night, before telling Flanders to go to Hell, returning everything to status quo.
This episode is so much fun. Although, I will say, it sets up two stories that end up being even better than this one. The episode “Hurricane Neddy” gets even more mileage out of the idea of Ned snapping and losing his up-tight nature, and “Homer’s Enemy” really shows us how much of a jerk Homer is from an outsiders perspective. But this episode is still tremendous, even though it doesn’t reach the heights those other two get to. Ned’s so great in this episode, and it’s so fun seeing Homer drive him to the brink of madness, all while thinking he’s just being a friend.
Take Away: Be mindful to the fact that you may bug the living shit out of some people, and try not to do that.
“Homer Loves Flanders” was written by David Richardson and directed by Wes Archer, 1994.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons