Well look what we have here. Another start to the week, we’re almost done with Season Nine already, and we have a silly episode about trash staring Steve Martin. Oh, and it’s also the 200th episode, which therefore means it’s the 200th installment of this insane little project. Which is blowing my mind. I’ve been doing this for nine months now, which sounds ridiculous, but I’ll be honest, it’s kind of flown by. When I started this thing it seemed like an insurmountable task that would probably drive me mad. And time will tell on that last part, but I’ve at least shown myself that I can accomplish it. Even though I know I’m in for some rough waters soon. But let’s not dwell on the impending Dark Ages, and just enjoy this goofy episode where Homer becomes the sanitation commissioner out of spite.
The episode starts off with what’s more than likely a very realistic scene where the board members of department store are trying to come up with a new holiday in August so people will buy more useless crap. They think back on previous successes like Christmas II and Spendover, but end up deciding on the simple Love Day. And of course the Simpsons are all on board for Love Day, decorating the house and giving each other presents like Sir Lovesalot. But Love Day really doesn’t have any bearing on the plot, because it quickly becomes about how obnoxious it is to take out the garbage. Homer tops it off with wrapping paper, which should mean he has to take it outside, but he’s lazy so it quickly becomes a drawn out game of chicken where the family just keep adding to the pile in the hopes that they won’t be the one to take the trash out.
That trash mound then becomes increasingly precarious, and finally topples one morning when Homer is putting a wrapper on it. He’s then forced to deal with his karmic retribution, and bring the trash outside. And as he’s doing so, he sees that the garbage men have just passed by their house. So Homer chases after them, trying to get them to stop while slinging insults at them. Which does result in them stopping, but they don’t take the insults particularly well, and it leads to the garbage men cutting off the Simpsons service. So they’re just going to have to drive their garbage straight to the dump? Apparently not, because what does happen is they basically turn their property into a giant dump. The family starts to acclimate to their new life as disgusting hoarders as the garbage starts to take over their house.
But then one morning Homer wakes up, and all the garbage is gone. He’s won! The whole time he easily could have called the city and apologized to get his service brought back, but he was too proud, and now it looks like the city has bowed to his indomitable will. That is until Marge admits that she finally just snapped and signed his name on an apology, getting everything righted. Which infuriates Homer. He then marches down to city hall, meets with Ray Patterson the sanitation commissioner, and starts yelling at him. Ray doesn’t really give a crap about Homer, and really doesn’t understand his strange anger, and just kind of blows Homer off. Which gives Homer the initiative to head down the hall and sign up to run for sanitation commissioner.
And it quickly becomes evident that Homer cares more about this election that anything else in the world, and starts campaigning like crazy. He even decides to “Rock the Vote” by appealing to the young people of Springfield. And since this is 1998 he does that by crashing a U2 concert. He sneaks in claiming to be the “potato man,” and then just strolls out in the middle of their set to start talking. Bono humors Homer and starts talking about Springfield and their trash situation while the rest of the band go to get a drink, except Adam Clayton who isn’t invited. But in the end the stunt doesn’t pay off, and he’s dragged off stage and beaten. So his campaign isn’t going well. He heads over to Moe’s to commiserate, and they accidently come up with Homer’s brilliant slogan and platform. “Can’t somebody else do it?”
Homer then starts stumping around town with his insane proposal that the garbage men will now be all-purpose public servant that will handle every disgusting task the people of Springfield have. And because the people of Springfield are stupid, they go for Homer’s plan. And that’s even more apparent when they hold a debate between the two potential sanitation commissioners for some baffling reason. Homer already has a leg up, and gets even better when Ray shows up late, even though it’s because Homer cut his break. And in the end, Homer wins the vote, and is made sanitation commissioner. Although the end of Ray’s speech is fascinatingly prescient in this ridiculous election we’re still in.
Ray: “All right. Fine. If you want an experienced public servant, vote for me. But if you want to believe a bunch of crazy promises about garbage men cleaning your gutters and waxing your car, then by all means vote for this sleazy lunatic.”
And now that Homer’s the sanitation commissioner it’s time for him to make good on all his ridiculous promises. He starts spending money like mad, buying his garbage men new uniforms and new cars. We’re then treated to one of the best songs the Simpsons ever made, their parody of “Candyman,” the “Garbageman.” This song is so great, but I would say the best parts are Krusty getting rid of his box labeled “Used-Up Porno,” and U2 hanging out in Moe’s with their asses hanging out.
Unfortunately things aren’t as great as Homer’s song implies, because Mayor Quimby comes storming in to let him know he’s already spent his entire yearly budget in a month. He doesn’t even have money to pay his garbage men. So Homer freaks out, not sure what to do, and asks him family for advice. But they don’t really have any ideas, other than Lisa casually mentioning that other cities have problems with trash too. But that little statement gives Homer an idea, and the next day when the garbage men show up in his office to kill him, he presents them with a briefcase full of cash.
So obviously the question becomes, how is Homer making briefcases full of money? The rest of the family just assume drugs, but the answer is much more insane. Homer brings them to a part of town where there are abandoned mines, and it’s revealed that Homer is being paid by other major cities to dump their garbage down in the mines, turning Springfield into America’s Trash-hole. So everything is all good! That is until garbage starts erupting out of the ground all over town, turning it into a horrible dystopia. So the town holds an emergency meeting and Homer is unanimously voted to be horse-whipped, and they beg Ray to come back. He however refuses to take his job back, and leaves the city to die. So they’re forced to resort to the town’s All Purpose Contingency Plan B. Which is to put all the buildings in town on trucks and move the whole town five miles down the road. So Springfield is saved! And we’re treated to the hilarious joke of the American Indian from those old commercials crying at some trash, before screaming at what has become of Springfield.
This is such a stupid episode, and I really like it. Episode that revolve around the idea of “Homer starts some crazy new job,” can be very hit or miss, and they’re going to be misses increasingly so as the show runs along. But this one works great for me. I love the idea of Homer running for public office out of spite more than anything else, and then being held accountable for his insane campaign promises. I also really love Steve Martin’s performance as Ray Patterson, because I’m always a fan of characters in Springfield who seem baffled by how crazy the town is, like they haven’t been paying attention to how things in the town work. And man do I love his great speech at the end of the debate, because I can’t help but feel like that’s how either of the Democratic nominees would have to end a debate against that hateful troll doll the Republicans are propping up. But let’s not get bogged down by real world politics, and just appreciate the fact that we have an insane episode with U2, Steve Martin, a crazy parody song, and an ending that involves the entire town moving itself down the road. And as a cherry on top, it’s episode 200. It’s a hell of a milestone folks.
Take Away: City sanitation is a tough but important job, and we should all appreciate our garbage men more than we do. Oh, and sadly the American people love to pick the worst possible candidates.
“Trash of the Titans” was written by Ian Maxtone-Graham and directed by Jim Reardon, 1998.