Lifetime of Simpsons

S11 E08 – Take My Wife, Sleaze

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We’ve had a decent week of Simpsons here on the site. Not one of the best runs we’ve had obviously, but for this period in the show’s history we’re doing pretty hot. And this episode that’s going to round out the week is probably the most emblematic of them all. It’s got some great moments, and some stupid ones, and just kind of shakes out as an enjoyable yet forgettable experience.

Things start off with the family watching a Guinness Book of World Records show, which Lisa is deriding for being too gross now. And she has a point, since the records they mention are the world’s smelliest tumor and a man born without a face. However, they’re spared from more gross records when a commercial for a new 50’s diner comes on. The Greaser’s Café looks pretty awesome, full of 50s nostalgia and it’s even owned by Wolfguy Jack. So the Simpsons are excited to go, and after a month of waiting, they go check it out.

And it’s a happening place. Everyone in town is there, in costume, and enjoying the simple racism of the 1950s. We get some sight-gags as the family check out the restaurant and it’s food, but things really start going when Wolfguy gets up and announces that it’s time for their nightly dance contest, where the prize is going to be a vintage Harley Davidson motorcycle. So Homer is instantly into it, and goes out with Marge to start dancing. And they quickly out-dance the other couples, and the Simpsons leave with a brand-new motorcycle. Which is probably why the next scene is showing that the Greaser’s Café is closing, because giving away motorcycles every night is probably not a great idea.

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Anyway, Homer has a motorcycle now, and he’s psyched! Unfortunately, he doesn’t know how to ride one, and I guess bicycles either. Bart finds this hilarious, and laughs at him for a full day, until finally agreeing to teach him. We’re then treated to a silly montage where Bart teaches Homer to ride a motorcycle in some sort of reverse-Norman Rockwell moment. And once Homer learns to ride the bike, he basically refuses to get off of it. He drives Bart straight into his classroom, and idles in church while revving to drown Lovejoy out. Stay classy Homer.

But things really start to escalate when Homer’s sitting around one afternoon watching TV, and sees some terrible old movie from the 50s about a rebel teenager and his awesome motorcycle gang. And since Homer’s notoriously easy to influence, he decides that it’s a great idea to start a motorcycle gang. So Homer goes around and enlists Moe, Lenny, Carl, and Ned to join his gang, the Hell’s Satans. Even though Homer and Moe are the only two with motorcycles. Ned has a bike, Carl has a Vespa, and Lenny’s on a riding mower.

So the Hell’s Satans begin riding around Springfield, mocking Chief Wiggum, slightly bothering Apu, and publishing all sorts of stupid pictures of themselves in some biker magazine. So life’s going great! That is until a real motorcycle gang called the Hell’s Satans see the photos in that magazine, and drive to Springfield to fight Homer for stealing their name. So they break into the house, led by Meathook and Ramrod (John Goodman and Henry Winkler), and force Homer to eat his jacket as punishment. But when it’s revealed that Homer has all sorts of other Hell’s Satans memorabilia made up, they decide to stay there and make Homer’s life a living hell.

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So the gang moves into the Simpson’s house, turning it into their own personal clubhouse/trash-hole. And since Homer gently mocked Chief Wiggum earlier, the police refuse to help, leaving the family stuck with this new way of life. And while Homer and the kids are really hating these new guests, Marge is kind of taking to it, since the bikers are all incredibly incompetent, and can’t take care of themselves, giving her more people to mother. So Marge starts taking care of the bikers, earning their respect. Which becomes an issue when Homer comes home one day, only to find the bikers gone, along with Marge.

The bikers have left Springfield, and head out to South Dakota to some biker meet-up where they plan to beat up Mickey Roarke, and are just bringing Marge along as their troop mom. It isn’t even a sexual thing, they just really appreciate her and want her to keep taking care of them. Which kind of flatters Marge. However, Homer isn’t really into this whole idea, and starts heading out to find the Hell’s Satans. Which does not go well. He mainly just keeps getting beat up in biker bars while demanding information.

But while Homer’s trip isn’t going great, the Hell’s Angels is. Because Marge has finally taught them that there’s more to life than just motorcycles, and is teaching them about resumes and real jobs, convincing them to turn over new leaves. But that changes when Homer finally tracks them down, and just starts wildly throwing punches at the bikers, trying to win his wife back. Which doesn’t go great. But Meathook does permit Homer to fight for Marge in the Circle of Death. So the two go into a circle and start fighting, which quickly escalates to the two lifting motorcycles up and using them like swords. And after that ridiculous fight Homer is victorious, and he heads back to Springfield with Marge while the Hell’s Satans go off to live productive lives.

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Not a bad episode. Not one of my favorites, but it’s pretty good. I think the setup of Homer getting a motorcycle is a little ridiculous, but once he has one it really works. Homer is exactly the type of guy who would get a motorcycle during his mid-life crisis, and who would talk his stupid buddies into forming a “gang” that really just sits around and drinks beer. And of course he’d be the type of guy who would read magazines for bikers, thinking that made him legitimate. But then the real bikers show up, and the episode kind of starts falling apart a bit for me. There’s some good stuff with them, and I like the idea of them just wanting a mother who cares about them, but Marge is oddly cool with the whole kidnapping thing. And the whole idea of Homer and Meathook dueling with motorcycles is just a tad too silly for me. It’s not “Homer and Mr. Burns caught the Loch Ness Monster” level of weirdness, but it’s damn close. So yeah, we got a pretty good week, let’s just hope our luck holds out for a while longer.

Take Away: Bikers really just want someone to love them. Oh, and giving away free motorcycles is a horrible business strategy for your fledgling restaurant.

 

“Take My Wife, Sleaze” was written by John Swartzwelder and directed by Neil Affleck, 1999.

 

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