Hey, does one episode this week that falls into the “Homer has a new wacky job for an episode” genre feel like too little? Well here you go, let’s see Homer be an artist for a week, and certainly not do something irreparable to Springfield that will just get reset by tomorrow.
Things start off with Homer lounging in a hammock drinking beer from a coconut and throwing beer cans at Ned. You know, like everybody does on a Saturday. However, his fun little activity is slammed to a halt when Marge shows up, irritated that Homer isn’t doing chores on his weekend, especially since he has a lot of them. Which, yeah, being a home-owner is great until it’s the weekend and all you want to do is watch Simpsons episodes for a maddening blog series and instead you have to do yardwork and wage endless war against your house falling apart.
So Homer decides to actually do some work, and heads over to a hardware store with Bart to get something to cut the lock of his toolbox. However, as they’re wandering around the store Homer comes across a display and promo for a do-it-yourself barbecue pit, and the chance to eat freshly grilled hippo and have something to burn evidence is too great for Homer to pass up, so he buys one of the kits.
However it quickly becomes apparent that Homer doesn’t know what he’s doing, since he forced Lisa to pour the concrete base herself. But once that hard work is done, it’s Homer’s time to shine! And he promptly dumps all of the bits into the wet concrete, creating a race against time to get it assembled before the concrete dries. Which does not go well. He ends up creating an insane pile of bricks and metal that looks nothing like a barbecue. And matters aren’t helped when Homer takes his frustration out on the monstrosity, and just starts smashing it, before ramming an umbrella into it. And once that’s accomplished, he heads back to the store in a vain attempt to return it.
That doesn’t go very well, so Homer has to drive home with the thing dragging behind his car, since Chief Wiggum wouldn’t just let him dump it in a Toys for Tots dumpster. But luck strikes when Homer’s bumper falls of the car, sending the barbecue flying down the road and out of his life. That is until it crashes into someone’s car. And when he gets home Homer’s shocked to find the driver of that car tracked him down, and wants to talk about the barbecue. But not because she’s mad, because it turns out the driver is Astrid Weller (Isabella Rossellini), an art dealer who thinks Homer’s “sculpture” is amazing, and wants to represent him.
Astrid owns an art gallery, and considers Homer’s barbecue outsider art that she thinks is good enough to sell, so despite Marge’s obvious issues with Homer falling backwards into her dream job, they go through with it. So they go to Astrid’s gallery, see Jasper Johns steal food and shockingly make a sale. Mr. Burns loves Homer’s “sculpture” and buys it, making Homer a real artist. Which is really starting to tick off Marge, who complains to Bart, who is too busy eating a wheel of cheese for some reason.
And that minor success starts going to Homer’s head immediately, and he begins collecting a lot of junk to build into new sculptures. He even asks Bart and Lisa to help inspire him, since Astrid claims the key to his art is rage. Which goes pretty good, since Lisa lets him know Marge found out her engagement ring is made of rock candy, and Bart tells him that he’s flunking math and was attracted to Milhouse the other day. And it all pays off, because Homer’s getting his own full art-show, at which point he says the hilarious line “this is like Marge’s dream come true. For me!”
So Homer’s art-show comes up, while Marge is getting increasingly frustrated about how he’s accomplished so much without really trying. But karma does kick in a bit when the art-show opens, and no one is that impressed with Homer’s new sculptures, calling them derivative. So the art-world of Springfield writes him off, and his art career ends basically before it begins.
And Homer’s pretty crushed, even though it seemed like he was just doing it for laughs. This makes Marge have some sympathy for Homer, and she decides to help him out, and teach him about art. They go to a museum and start checking out other people’s arts, hoping to inspire Homer to create something new. We get some art gags, like Homer making fun of Matt Groening before almost getting erased by a giant pencil, and even check out a Joseph Turner painting of the canals of Venice. And after a day of influences, Homer falls asleep and has a crazy dream where he just keeps getting attacked by various works of art, which should be an ominous warning against entering the art world, but whatever.
So Homer goes home, sad that he still doesn’t have any ideas, until Lisa recommends doing crazy big and daring art installations. And that recommendation combined with his experiences at the museum give Homer a terrible idea. So that night Homer and Bart head out into Springfield under the cover of night, stealing everyone in town’s doormats, before placing them over the storm drains. They then head into the zoo and put snorkels on all of the animals, which is getting increasingly strange. And once that’s done, they open all of the fire hydrants in the town, which over the course of the night completely floods the city, turning it into a kinda sorta Venice. And shockingly the people of Springfield are super cool with this destruction of their town in the name of art. We even get the source of the amazing line, “Everything’s coming up Milhouse!” which is one of my favorite lines of all time. And the episode ends with everyone happily living life in their flooded town, while Marge starts painting again. Aw.
I like this episode. It’s a little scatter-shot, but for the most part I think it works pretty well. Yeah, the very end with Homer flooding the entire town, and everyone being down with it, is pretty ridiculous, and is a classic example of something horrible happening to the town that quickly gets erased before the next episode. I like the idea of Homer accidently falling into art, since everything is so subjective and anyone can be an artist, and it’s also great that he doesn’t properly appreciate his “art” and is shot down for just doing the same thing again and again. Plus, even though the episode doesn’t delve into it nearly enough I really like the conflict between Marge and Homer, since he’s accidently being accepted as an artist when we’ve seen her struggling to get any appreciation in the past. It’s an interesting idea, that wasn’t really taken advantage of, but the concept was good enough I suppose.
Take Away: Art is in the eye of the beholder. And don’t trust Jasper Johns.
“Mom and Pop Art” was written by Al Jean and directed by Steven Dean Moore, 1999.