Lifetime of Simpsons

S11 E11 – Faith Off

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Hey everybody! Let’s talk about religion and football! Two topics that I really couldn’t possibly care less about!

The episode starts off with Homer riffling through the mail, throwing away all the bills. But he stops when he finally find something interesting, a letter from Springfield University, you know that college that Homer went to for one course and had to cheat to pass? Well because of that one course he’s invited to some fancy reception before the big homecoming football game. So Homer and Marge head down to college for a party.

Homer and Marge briefly stop by his old dorm room, where they run into the good old Nerds, who haven’t really changed at all. They chit chat for a bit, before going to the party where people get to mingle and meet the star kicker that’s carried the football team to victory. Oh, and in true university fashion, it’s all an elaborate ruse to get money from the suckers, and the party-goers are essentially mugged by the new Dean.

And this slight is enough to infuriate Homer to point where he needs to pull an epic prank on the Dean. Which is a great idea, since Homer has a great track-record of pranking the deans of this college. But he wrangles the Nerds into helping him, and they set up a prank to drop a bucket full of glue on the Dean’s head. Unfortunately some stupid frat already had the idea, and their bucket gets dropped down on Homer’s head instead. And it just won’t come off.

The family go see Dr. Hibbert, who claims that there’s no hope getting the bucket off since Homer’s now “more glue than man,” and they just give up. So Bart helps Homer acclimate to life by drilling some eyeholes in the bucket, letting him go back to his normal life. But things change for the family when they let Homer drive them somewhere, and thanks to his limited vision he gets them super lost and drives into a ditch.

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So the family get out of the ditch, and find that they’re outside some massive faith revival. They decide to roll with it, and just head on into the big tent to see Brother Faith. Brother Faith is a showy preacher who starts singing and getting the patrons all riled up before the big part of his “sermon.” The faith healing. Now, I don’t know if any of you have seen faith healing before, but it’s pretty repulsive. I don’t want to get into a whole thing about how much the idea of people relying on prayer instead of medicine pisses me off, but I will say that I once chaperoned a mission trip with my wife’s church, and we had to go to a “church” in a middle school cafeteria that wasn’t properly vetted, and which featured a lot of faith healing from a “preacher” in ratty jeans. And holy crap, seeing people scam other people with faith healing is one of the most aggravating things I’ve ever seen.

Anyway! Brother Faith starts “healing” everyone who comes up to tell him their stupid problems, and it inspires hope in Homer that this may be the answer to fixing his bucket situation. So he raises his hand and Brother Faith walks up to help. But he’s unable to get the bucket off, and asks for a volunteer to help. So Bart gives it a shock, and miraculously is able to rip the bucket off Homer’s head. Bart has powers!

So after the show Bart goes backstage to talk to Brother Faith, who somehow scams Bart into thinking that he legitimately has powers. Which starts Bart down an insane path where he starts preaching and healing the other kids during lunch. He even convinces a group of the other kids to start a ridiculous church for him where they can keep doing this crap. And obviously this isn’t going to fly with Lisa, who explains that the heat from the lamps caused the bucket to expand and the glue to melt, but who needs facts and logic when there’s magic religion to believe in! Meanwhile, we’re introduced to a B-Plot where Homer is going to create a float for the homecoming football game. But that doesn’t really go anywhere for a while.

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Once Bart has a giant tent, that they stole from an exterminator, he starts hosting sermons in the Simpson’s backyard. Which is weird, because a whole bunch of grown adults in Springfield start going to this weird ten-year olds church. And he’s doing great. There’s songs, over-the-top boasting, and of course some faith healing. A bunch of people come up and get their issues taken care of, all leading up to Milhouse who asks Bart to heal his nerdiness. So Bart just takes his glasses off. Presto chango!

However, this proves to be a horrible idea when Milhouse wanders away from the sermon, with no vision, and ends up getting hit by a car. So Bart goes with him to the hospital, where Milhouse is going to be fine, and realizes that maybe he doesn’t actually have supernatural powers. Shocker. Surely that’s not going to come back later!

But enough faith healing, it’s football time! Everyone has come to the stadium to see Springfield University play against Springfield A&M, while Homer gets very drunk. And this becomes an issue when half-time arrives, and Homer realizes he’s late to get his float. So he runs out to grab the float, and ends up coming in too late, when the teams have already come out onto the field. And of course Homer runs over the star kicker, destroying his knee.

Which doesn’t really make Fat Tony happy, who has a lot of money riding on the game. So Homer and Bart go into the stadium with Dr. Hibbet to access the situation with the kicker. And things are grim. His leg is barely attached, and there’s no way he’ll play again. That is unless Bart uses his magical powers! So Bart gives it a shot, and the kicker goes out to try and make one final field goal that would win them the game. He kicks the ball, but it’s no good, it just can’t make it that far. Until the severed leg comes flying through the air and knocks the football over the goal-posts. Springfield University wins! Bart doesn’t have powers! That kicker lost a leg! The end!

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This is a really weird episode folks. And I really don’t know if my dislike for it revolves around my own weird issues, or because it’s not that good of an episode. I feel like it’s not a good one. But who knows, it could be colored by the fact that this is an episode that’s all about two of my least favorite things in the world. I mean, I can’t state it enough, faith healing infuriates me. That type of religion, especially in the televangelist vein, really pisses me off, because it’s so obviously not real, it’s been proven to be fake, and yet stupid people still fall for it. For the most part I give religion a pass. As long as it’s not teaching you to be a horrible person, and you don’t feel the need to prosthelytize to people, you can do what you want. But when people aren’t getting the real help they need because “it’s God’s will,” or because they have faith that prayer will do anything, I get really mad. I’ve obviously gone way off the reservation with this article, so I’m just going to stop here with the final thoughts that this episode was a drag for me, and leave it like that.

Take Away: Don’t fall for faith healers. Oh, and if there’s something wrong with you, use science, not religion.

 

“Faith Off” was written by Frank Mula and directed by Nancy Kruse, 2000.

 

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