You know what type of episode I really don’t like? Ones where Marge is a total buzzkill for no reason. Because I’ve really come to like and appreciate Marge. She was probably my least favorite of the family back when I was a kid, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to like her more and more. She’s a really great mom, a loving spouse, and an all around good person. So it’s always kind of a bummer when they just make her this nagging mess that ruins everyone else’s fun. And guess which kind of Marge we get this week!
The episode starts off with some sort of sale going on at the library where people can just buy the books. So of course that means everyone in town is there and we get a bunch of sight-gags. We see Comic Book Guy buying a bunch of Leonard Nimoy books, Dr. Nick learning about human anatomy for the first time, and Lisa trying to buy her weight in books. Pretty standard stuff I suppose.
But while everyone else is having a good time checking out books, Homer is getting bored and whiny. So to shut him up Marge gives him a copy of a Duff Book of World Records, assuming that it will keep him occupied. And it does, so well in fact that he decides to leave the library and head to Moe’s to help solve barroom disputes, which is what the book was designed for. So he gets to Moe’s, manages to help Lenny and Carl solve an argument about clothespins on people’s faces, and Homer realizes he’s found a calling.
At which point they basically recycle that plot from when Homer had the book of quizzes, and just went around bothering everyone with quizzes. Because now that Homer has the book all he does is recite random facts and figures to people ad naseaum. But eventually he’s read all of the records to the point that everyone else already knows them all, and he loses the purpose of this little game. That is until Bart suggests Homer do the only logical next step, and try to break a record.
Homer loves that idea so he heads down to the Duff World Records office to try and get his own name in the book. But it doesn’t go great. First he tries to make some horrible noise for an extended period of time, but learns he would have to do it for years. Next he tries to play a banjo with a cobra, but learns that the cobra would get the record. At which point the people from the book tell him that individual records are almost impossible, and that he’d have better luck trying to get a group record.
So Homer heads back to Springfield, gets everyone together at Town Hall, and proposes the whole record-breaking idea. Everyone agrees, and Homer explains that his plan is to build the world’s largest human pyramid. The whole town seems down with that, and they start to stack up, as the Record People record their height. And right as they’re about to get the record we see that Kearney and Jimbo are touching hands, causing them to freak out, and cave in the whole pyramid, at which point the entire town becomes a ball of humanity that starts rolling down a hill.
Bu they finally come to a stop when they crash into a truck stop, and end up scattering on a weighing station. Which is where they actually end up breaking a world record, because it turns out that Springfield is the fattest town in the world. And they love it. The whole town embraces it’s obesity, and people start openly loving their weight problems. Well, everyone except Marge. Shock of all shocks, she’s not on board with this embracing of body image, and makes it her mission to make the town healthier.
And her first stop is to identify that all the food in the town is loaded with sugar. Specifically sugar from a company called Motherloving that just so happens to have it’s worldwide headquarters in Springfield. So Marge heads to the building and meets with the CEO, Greg Motherloving, who just acts like a pompous asshole to her, and talks down to her. Which is enough to piss Marge off so much that she decides to do something about his company.
Which means it’s class-action lawsuit time! She goes and grabs Gil as her lawyer (bad call) and starts hitting the town trying to get testimonials. And she finds a lot. She talks to Wiggum about Ralph’s hyperactivity, Cleetus’ diabetic cousin, and Disco Stu’s addiction to snorting sugar. But when she gets a call from Professor Frink who acts as a smoking gun giving her the information that Motherloving knew their sugar was addictive and put it in all the food on purpose, she has her case.
So a court case begins, and things don’t look great for Motherloving. The evidence is highly stacked against them, and things really get bleak when Motherloving tries to bribe Judge Snyder with a briefcase full of candy. Which doesn’t go well, because it irritates Snyder so much that he rules in Marge’s favor, and decrees that sugar is banned in Springfield. Because I guess he has that kind of power.
And people are not pleased. They blame Marge for taking away all the good-tasting food in the town, and things start to turn dire in the town. We see the police burning all the food, the children of the Elementary School detoxing on the playground, and Homer so desperate for sugar that he’s licking random stains on the Kwik-E-Mart floor.
But while Homer’s licking the floor, Apu approaches him and informs him of a secret cabal of businessmen who are trying to bring black-market sugar back into the town. So, just like his beer baron days, Homer agrees to go against the law, and follows Apu to a secret meeting-place underneath the Lard Lad’s. Once down there he meets with Mr. Burns, Greg Motherloving, and Count Fudgula, who are planning on going to the Caribbean island of San Glucose to bring back a shipment of sugar.
So they get onto Mr. Burns’ yacht and head out to the island, where for some reason they let Homer be the point-man. So Homer swims to the island, meets with the guerillas that are supplying the shipment of sugar, and heads back to the boat with it. And once they have their booty they sail back to Springfield, only to find the police waiting. So Apu, Burns, and Motherloving bail and Homer gets in a crazy boat-chase with the police, until he runs them aground.
And with the police taken care of Homer heads to the docks once more to meet with Motherloving. But when he gets there he’s shocked to find Marge waiting for him. She tries to convince Homer to dump the sugar in the ocean and ignore Motherloving, and after finally breaking him down, he agrees, and dumps the whole load. At which point the people of Springfield jump into the water, so desperate for sugar that they’ll drink it from the water. Oh, and Judge Snyder shows up to say that he was hasty with the whole sugar-ban, and repeals it, letting the people of Springfield be their fat selves.
Yeah, this episode doesn’t do much for me. There’s some good parts, like Marge interviewing people about their sugar problems, and the whole obsession with Oompa Loompas, but overall the episode is a dud for me. And I think the main reason is that it made Marge be the villain like so many of these types of episodes. Yeah, she’s trying to do the right thing for her family, but she just comes off as shrill and nagging, not wanting people to do what they want to do. And that’s not the Marge I love. She becomes one of those people who would rather ban something than teach their children not to do it. And those people suck. They’re the crazy Christian groups who try to get sex ed out of public schools because they’d rather have kids get pregnant than have uncomfortable talks with their own children. And Marge is so much better than those types of people.
Take Away: Don’t be a buzzkill, and if you want your kids to not do something, deal with that at home, don’t try to ruin it for everyone. Oh, and maybe lay off the sugar a bit.
“Sweets and Sour Marge” was written by Caolyn Omine and directed by Mark Kirkland, 2002.