Hey everybody! We made it through Bummer week! So far this week we’ve dealt with death, implied death, ugliness caused depression, and character assassination. How do you top that for the wee closer? Why the horrors of alcoholism of course!
The episode starts off in the incredibly weird place of Homer and Bart wandering the streets digging through people’s garbage before collection day. You know, like normal people do? They scrounge up some interesting stuff like Milhouse’s childhood blanket, some She-Hulk vs Leon Spinks comics, and a big tiki statue from some failed Hawaiian restaurant. So obviously Homer needs to drag the rotten tiki idol to his home.
And once the tiki is in the house, he promptly rigs it up to the gas line so it can breathe fire. Sure, why not. And when it inevitably lights on fire and starts destroying his back yard, Homer runs off to Moe’s to hide so Marge and the kids can deal with it. However things are rough at Moe’s too, because Barney is super depressed, because all the other barflies forgot his birthday. Except they didn’t. Turns out they all remembered, and even threw him a huge party at the Simpson’s, he was just too drunk to remember.
So the barflies regale Barney in the story of his disastrous party. Which primarily has Barney wandering around creeping people out, before dressing like Marge and falling off the staircase, only to lick liquor out of the carpet. Classy! And after story they decide to give Barney his birthday presents from that night, like morning-after stationary and helicopter lessons. However they then start to mock him, knowing that he’s such a drunk he’ll never be able to use the helicopter lessons. So that sucks.
But this mockery turns out to be bridge too far, and Barney decides that he officially has to stop drinking and get his life in order. Which is going to prove difficult since he apparently lives in an apartment above Moe’s. But Homer believes in his friend, and takes him to an AA meeting. Which I guess goes well for Barney, but we don’t get to see much of it because Homer starts mocking the process after Gil does a demonstration for Amway, and is kicked out.
Oh, and you know what time it is? Obligatory B-Plot time! This time it’s a Bart and Lisa story, and revolves around them entering into a competition to submit photos for the cover of the phonebook. So they wander through a closet full of memories, and come across an old camera, and hit the town! They hit the statue of Jebediah Springfield to look at some baby birds being born, they check out fat Ranier Wolfcastle, and stage an elaborate “dogs playing poker” photo, which Nelson promptly steals.
But that stuff isn’t that important right now, let’s get back to the Barney plot. Because he’s actually making some progress. He’s taking the helicopter lessons, and is doing pretty well at them, picking it up pretty quickly. But Homer’s progress isn’t that good for Homer, since Moe is grooming him to be the new drunken lush that keeps his shitty bar afloat.
However, things start to fall apart when Barney comes to take Homer for a helicopter ride. At first the two just catch up and discuss how great Barney’s sobriety is going. But then Barney starts to talk about how much of a waste of time drinking at Moe’s was, which gets Homer super upset, thinking that Barney is insulting him. And this does not bode well for their friendship. They even have an awkward moment at the Kwik-E-Mart where they’re like a jilted couple.
But at this point in the episode the B-Plot starts to heat up (pun intended!) because Bart and Lisa are up on Mount Springfield to take a picture of the whole town, and accidentally drop a hot flashbulb into the woods, causing a fire. And news of that fire spreads down to the rest of the town just as Barney shows up at Moe’s to apologize to Homer for his behavior. And when a report on the fire comes over the tv in the bar, even showing Bart and Lisa being trapped there, Homer begs Barney to help save his kids.
So Homer and Barney get into a helicopter and fly off to save the kids. However, Barney has never flown by himself, and is pretty worried that he’s going to mess things up. He starts to doubt himself to the point that he lands the helicopter on a bridge, causing a huge traffic jam. And not only that, a Duff truck slams on its breaks and sends a 6-pack flying into the helicopter, causing Barney to decide to give up.
But Homer won’t let him! He drinks all six beers, giving Barney no other alternative than to get his shit together and go rescue Bart and Lisa. So they fly up there, find the kids at the top of the tree, and narrowly rescue them before the forest fire subsumes everything. And as they’re flying away Bart gets a great shot of the blaze for the contest. We then cut to a few weeks later and see that Bart apparently just sent the role of film in, and the phonebook people picked a photo of Bart and Lisa sitting on the toilet as babies. Neat. Oh, and we see that Barney has remained sober, but is not addicted to caffeine and drinks like six lattes in one sitting.
As far as this week went this one wasn’t one of the darker episodes, but it was still pretty bleak. Barney has always been this weird, lovably drunk guy, and whenever the show shines a light on how dark and sad his life is, it becomes a huge bummer. Which is fine, I mean alcoholism is not a joking matter, so it’s nice that they occasionally treat it with some seriousness, but this episode brought it to a whole new level. Having Barney hit rock bottom, and struggle with his addiction was pretty damned real, and not really something that I’d expect from this era of the show. It’s also weird to me that, as far as I know, Barney is still sober, so he’s been sober longer than he was a hideous drunk. That seems weird. I guess Ned’s been a widower longer than he was married to. That’s weird. This week was weird. I’m going to go lay down now.
Take Away: Alcoholism, and any addiction, is a serious problem, and should be helped.
“Days of Wine and D’oh’ses” was written by Deb Lacusta and Dan Castellaneta and directed by Neil Affleck, 2000.