Let’s go right from baboon fights to accidental suicide! This is a weird episode guys. I find it kind of fascinating. When I was younger I thought this was one of the best episodes, just super hilarious and fun to see Homer from another light. But I’ve heard that there’s a lot of hatred for this episode online, because of exactly why I think it’s interesting, people don’t like to see Homer be a dick. So let’s see how this held up!
The episodes starts off with an amazing Kent Brockman gag where we come in at the end of a story where we just hear him say “which if true, means death for us all.” Which was hilarious. But after that little tid bit he moves on to his main story, a human interest piece about some sad man named Frank Grimes. We found he was abandoned by his parents, forced to work as a deliveryman giving rich kids toys, and was blown up in a silo explosion. But after all of that he got a degree in nuclear physics from a correspondence school, and is looking for work. And this stirring story warms Mr. Burns’ heart, who tells Smithers to find Grimes, and make him the executive vice president of the company. Unfortunately the next day Smithers shows up with Grimes, and they find Burns has completely forgotten about Grimes and now wants a dog he saw on the news to be the vice president. So Smithers just finds a job for Grimes down with Homer.
I’m not really sure what Grimes’ job is, but he has to have an office next to Homer’s, and he’s bothered by Homer, Lenny and Carl, who just barge in. They introduce themselves, and Grimes finds Homer annoying pretty much right away, especially because we learn Lenny and Carl have masters in nuclear physics, while Homer just got a job because he showed up the day they opened the plant. But surely Homer is going to endear himself to Grimes quickly right?
Well, before we figure that out we head over to city hall to set up out B plot. Bart is hanging out with Marge while she unsuccessfully tries to get a personalized license plate, and ends up wandering off. And the most interesting thing he could find was a room where people are auctioning off tax seizures. And since Bart was the only person to big on a property, for a dollar, he becomes the proud owner of a dilapidated factory. And it turns out having your own factory is awesome, because Bart gets to zing around the factory floor by sitting on a chair and blasting a fire extinguisher. He even hires Milhouse as a worker, since Milhouse was apparently just walking around in some industrial part of the city.
But enough about that for a while, because we have to jump over and see just how annoying Homer can be. He starts off by just eating Grimes’ lunch, even though it’s been clearly labeled, and follows that up by defiling all of Grimes’ personalized pencils. And all of this has shown Frank that Homer is a horrible coworker, and person, and he quickly starts to hate him. And that’s really hammered in after an encounter in the break room. After mocking Homer’s way of eating, “Eh, pigs tend to chew, I’d say he eats more like a duck,” Grimes starts to explain how horrible Homer is to Lenny and Carl, who have just accepted it. Lenny even knows that Homer has almost killed everyone in the Plant 316 times. But the real breaking point is when Homer almost drinks a beaker of sulfuric acid, which Frank knocks out of his hand, destroying the wall. Which really pisses off Mr. Burns, who ends up yelling at Frank and reducing his salary.
And all of this is enough to finally break Frank, who comes to Homer and announces that they’re officially enemies. Which Homer really doesn’t like, because apparently no one has ever hated him before. He heads over to Moe’s to complain about his new enemy, and after we learn Moe somehow has Richard Nixon’s enemy list, Moe gives him some advice on befriending Frank. He tells Homer he should invite him over for dinner, pamper him, and then give him the ol’ fork in the eye. Homer decides to go through with this plan, without the ol’ fork in the eye, and invites Frank over. And it’s quickly apparent that Homer made a miscalculation, because Frank’s life is even worse than we thought. He works two jobs, and lives in a studio apartment between two bowling alleys, which really infuriates Frank when he sees the size of the Simpson’s house. And after marveling at Homer’s pictures of him with Gerald Ford, the Smashing Pumpkins, his trip to space, and his Grammy, Frank snaps and yells at Homer, telling him he doesn’t deserve any of this, and that “you’re what’s wrong with America Simpson. If you lived in any other country in the world, you’d have starved to death long ago.”
And all of this really starts to wear on Homer, making him really depressed. So Homer decides to change his act, and start being a model employee. Which doesn’t go well, because even when Homer tries to be competent, he’s somehow less. But none of this impresses Homer, who continues to mock Homer in front of Lenny and Carl, who really couldn’t care less about Frank’s gripe. So Frank decides to show the entire Plant how much of an idiot Homer is by tricking him into participating in a contest the Plant is holding where kids design Power Plants. And it totally works, because Homer finds the doctored flier, and decides that designing a great Plant will impress Frank enough to befriend him. So Homer turns to a framed photo of Lenny that’s signed “Have a cool summer,” and tells him to cover for him, because he has important work to do!
Before we get to the end of the Frank Grimes story we wrap up the Bart plot by showing us that Milhouse is forced to be a night watchmen for the factory. He gets to wander around all night, drinking rat-coffee, while delivering the hilarious line “so this is my life. At least I’ve done better than dad.” But it turns out Milhouse isn’t a good nightwatchman, because the next morning Bart heads over to the factory to find it fell collapsed and is now a pile of rubble. So that’s over! Let’s get to the Power Plant contest! We see Ralph’s Malibu Stacy Power Plant, Martins weird one that actually works, and then Homer’s, which is just the Plant as it is, but with wings to cut down on wind resistance, and a racing stripe. And Homer’s wins! The rest of the Plant applaud this grown man winning a contest for children, which finally pushes Grimes over the edge. He freaks the hell out, and starts running around the Plant, being an asshole because he’s learned that there’s no justice in the world, and people like Homer succeed over people who actually try like him. Frank is horrible to everyone in the Plant, and finally grabs some high voltage cables, killing himself. And the episode ends with the gag of Homer falling asleep at Grimes’ funeral, causing everyone to laugh and forget the poor man who just died.
This is a weird one. I remember this being one of my favorite episodes of all time when I was younger. I remember it being a really funny episode, with some super solid jokes, especially that last rant from Frank. I still quote “I think he eats like a duck,” at a shockingly often rate. But the real thing that appealed to me about this episode was the weird reversal that the episode had. It was the first time that we saw someone see Homer’s annoying cartoon antics, and now be cool with them. I really find episodes like this fascinating, where we see an outsider experience Springfield, and see it for the weird hellhole that it really is. Everyone in Springfield is used to things making no sense, and they’re all just happily used to Homer and his incompetence. Just like us. Homer has gotten stupider and less aware of other people’s feelings over the years, as I’ve seen during this project, but it’s been gradual, so you don’t notice it. But then there’s someone who drops in, and just sees Homer in all his horrible glory, and understandably freaks out. Because he’s from the real world, where people like Homer shouldn’t succeed. Except in the real world, they totally do. And I think that may be what really irritates people about this episode. Yeah, it’s unpleasant seeing Homer so horrible, and to see an episode that’s this bitter and dark, but in the end I feel like the thing that rubs people the wrong way is that you kind of end up agreeing with Frank. People like Homer do kind of suck. If you knew Homer in real life, you wouldn’t like him, you’d hate him. He’s a lazy, obnoxious bum that coasts by, and somehow never gets in trouble. We’ve all met people like this, and it pisses us off that they get to leave nice lives, while we struggle to be decent people. And we don’t want to hate Homer, he’s out protagonist! So this episode didn’t really work great for me, because I get what they were doing, but it’s a bold decision to have us realize that we wouldn’t like Homer if we actually knew him.
Take Away: Shitty people succeed in life, and there’s nothing we can do about it.
“Homer’s Enemy” was written by John Swartzwelder and directed by Jim Reardon, 1997.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons