Lifetime of Simpsons

S09 E05 – The Cartridge Family

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Well what’s the best way to follow up a Treehouse of Horror episode? One that tackles a very serious issue that just gets increasingly relevant! Oh boy! This is a good one guy, and one that’ll probably get me talking about my personal politics way more than I have before. So let’s see how dangerous the real-world issue of soccer is.

Things start off with the family sitting around watching TV, as usual, before seeing an incredibly elaborate advertisement for an upcoming soccer game in Springfield. It features a Hank Williams Jr looking dude ask us to “open wide for some soccer” before doing everything it possibly can to make soccer sound appealing to Americans. Which of course means they do some blatant false advertising. But it works wonders on the Simpsons, who suddenly have soccer-fever and decide, just like the rest of the town, that they need to hit up this game. They head to a stadium and settle in for the game with a nice bowl of paella. And everyone is stoked. That is until the game actually begins, and the ignorant people of Springfield realize that they’ve been tricked. Kent Brockman quickly loses interest in calling the game, and the audience loses interest in the game itself. Which leads to a massive riot as the Springfielders fight over who gets to leave the stadium first.

And since this is Springfield, everyone gets really into the riot, causing it to spill out of the stadium and into the town. And things start to escalate quickly, to the point that Mayor Quimby declares marshal law, basically turning Springfield into the Purge. And since Homer’s weird security system relies too much on a fish, Marge tells him they need to get some security. At first they call in some sketchy security system dude, who offers to encase their house in Lucite until they die. Man are security system salesmen sketchy. We had one come to our house, and I basically got the feeling that he was actually a thief casing our house. Anyway, since the Lucite is shot down Homer decides to do the next most logical thing by going out to buy a gun.

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Homer heads over to Bloodbath & Beyond, which is hilarious, and purchases a revolver with all the fixings, which include: a holster, a bandoleer, a silencer, a loudener, a speed-cocker, and an attachment for shooting down police helicopters. Unfortunately Homer has to wait five days for a background check, which really pisses him off, since he’s “angry now!” So Homer goes home and sits on his front lawn while wishing he was able to indiscriminately shooting things, all while things he really wants to shoot come by, like ducks, Patty and Selma, and Ned. And after five days Homer is able to run back to the gun store to get his gun. Even though the background check pulled up that he was in a mental institution, has a history of alcohol abuse, and beat up President Bush. And all of those issues make him “potentially dangerous,” which just limits him to three handguns or less. America!

So now that he has his prize, Homer heads home to show the family his awesome new toy. And they are less than pleased. Bart thinks it’s cool, but Marge and Lisa are horrified. Lisa even gets into a debate with Homer where she explains how stupid and antiquated the second amendment is, which Homer blows off by saying guns are here to protect us from the King of England. And to quell Marge’s concerns about gun safety Homer decides to do the stupidest thing possible, and get her to come to an NRA meeting. Because that’s the perfect place to learn people who like guns aren’t lunatics!

Homer and Marge then head over to an NRA meeting, which basically everyone in Springfield is a member of. They sit around, basically having an AA meeting about guns, while Lenny teaches them the proper uses for assault weapons (there are none) and Moe proudly talks about shooting a guy in the spine. And shockingly, this didn’t change Marge’s mind. But apparently Homer doesn’t care, because he keeps the gun and just starts wandering around town with it, almost robbing the Kwik-E-Mart by accident. He even shoots all of their plates for target practice, causing them to eat spaghetti out of glasses and muffin tins. But the episode reaches a turning point when Homer announces he offered to host an NRA get together at their house, which leads to a huge argument at the breakfast table, before Homer accidentally causes the gun to go off and fling a knife across the kitchen and onto a picture of Marge. “No offense mom, but that was pretty cool.” But Marge really bares her soul at this point, and gets Homer to agree to get rid of the gun, which he does.

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Psych! He just hid it in the vegetable crisper in the fridge, which is weird because I feel like Marge is the most logical person to find it there. But she wasn’t the first, because Bart accidentally found it while hanging out with Milhouse, and decided to play “William Tell” with the gun. Luckily Marge comes in and freaks out before Bart kills Milhouse. And when Homer comes strolling in Marge freaks out at Homer, telling him that she doesn’t feel safe in the house with him, especially because he lied to her. The two fight for a bit, and Marge ends up leaving the house, with the kids, and basically separates from him. Although Homer should be okay, because Milhouse knows how to cook dinner for him.

So Marge and the kids head off into Springfield, looking for somewhere to crash. And after briefly checking in with Patty and Selma, who are busy raping a cable guy, and end up going to the Sleep-Eazy Motel. And while Marge and the kids are checking out the grossest motel in the world, Homer is busy getting the house ready for the gun-nuts. And Homer’s initially thrilled to have everyone over, that is until he starts using his gun like an idiot by shooting open cans and turning on his TV, which disgusts the NRA lunatics. Krusty explains that “guns aren’t toys, they for family protection, hunting dangerous or delicious animals, and keeping the King of England out of your face.” They even kick Homer out of his own house so they can keep partying.

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Back at the Sleazy Motel, Marge is standing guard, making sure no creepers burst into the room while Bart and Lisa are busy racing the vibrating beds. Is that still a thing? I remember seeing vibrating beds in shady motels as a kid while on road trips, but I haven’t seen one of those in forever. But while Marge is standing guard, Homer shows up, having found them somehow, and starts knocking on every door to find them. He finally gets to Marge, and the two have a discussion about the gun where Homer says he got rid of it for good after learning the truth about guns. So the family decide to go home, and go down to the office to check out. But as they’re in there Snake comes running into rob the place, and Homer responds by taking his gun out. Unfortunately there’s no bullets in it, and things start to go poorly. That is until the NRA shows up with lots of guns and scares Snake away, because the NRA freaks are vigilantes. Marge yells at Homer again for lying about the gun, and he finally just throws the damn thing away so they can leave. But as Marge heads out with the rest of the family, she decides to grab the gun herself. Just in case.

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What a great episode. Now, I know gun control is a real issue that people are grappling with in the modern day, and it can incite a lot of passion, and I don’t really deal with controversy here on this site other than Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice. But guys, guns are stupid. I really don’t understand why they’re so legal. Every pro-gun argument I’ve ever heard sounds ridiculous, and it’s just people struggling to come up with an excuse to have a loud, dangerous toy. We shouldn’t have them. I used to be pretty ambivalent about guns. My folks and my brother have guns, and I used to go to the shooting range with them. They’re kind of fun. But about four years ago, when I was working a menial retail job, I got held up. I had a gun pointed about two inches away from my head and threatened. And I feel like there’s two paths a person can go down after an event like that. Either you decide the world is a dangerous place, and everyone needs guns to protect themselves, or you go the opposite route, and decide no one should have guns, because they’re ludicrously dangerous and easy to get in this country. And I went with the later. I’m also from Denver, which has had two of the most famous mass-shootings in the country. I was a kid in the same town as Columbine, and the theater that the Dark Knight Rises shooting happened in was right next to my grandparents house, and a theater that I’d been to dozens of times. I know a guy who was in that theater. Guns and the violence that they cause is a real threat in my world that I’ve felt first-hand, and it’s really hard for me to watch an episode like this and not side completely with Marge. Homer is an idiot, and the type of guy who certainly shouldn’t have guns. The NRA wierdos try to prove that guns are okay by the end of the episode, but they still come off as lunatics. Because they are! People shouldn’t have guns, and they certainly shouldn’t have things like assault rifles. I’m sorry if I got too preachy on this one, this is supposed to be about loving a great show, but this is a topic that really riles me up, and they is my outlet to spew my thoughts, so there you go.

Take Away: We really need gun reform.

 

The Cartridge Family was written by John Swartzwelder and directed by Pete Michels, 1997.

 

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