Lifetime of Simpsons

S13 E09 – Jaws Wired Shut

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Let’s forget the unpleasantness of yesterday, and focus on an episode that I actually really enjoyed. I didn’t really remember this one, and other same some groan-worthy jokes that got sprinkled in this is a really solid episode that worked great for me. So let’s dive in folks!

Now, the episode starts off in a kind of strange place, with Homer sitting in his hammock reading some sort of pornographic magazine about pies, when his concentration is ruined by an impromptu gay pride parade that’s going down his residential street for some reason. So the family walk out to their front lawn and watch the gay pride parade, which has not exactly aged well. We get such wonderful floats as Lesbians of the Caribbean, Fab Abs, the Velvet Mafia, In the Closet (with Smithers and Patty hiding), and a group of gay dogs.

But the gay dogs were apparently the last straw for Homer, because when they go by he decides to make the family leave the parade and go check out a movie. The family head out to a theater, get tickets for Snenani-goats, and sit down for a pleasant experience. After half an hour of ads. Which is totally the truth. Homer slowly starts to go mad after watching an Itchy and Scratchy short about not talking during a movie, a trailer for a movie called Soccer Mummy that features boner jokes, and lots of other crap that they fill movies with.

And Homer finally snaps. He just can’t take the ads and garbage anymore and basically starts a goddamn riot in the theater. At which point the ushers outside realize they need to regain control, grab some Kit Kat riot gear, and storm into the theater to beat Homer. So Homer escapes the theater and gets chased through the town with the ushers until he accidentally runs into a statue of Drederick Tatum, where his jaw is shattered.

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So Homer’s brought to the hospital and Dr. Hibbert wires his jaw shut to heal, telling him that he’s going to be off solid food for a while. Which obviously isn’t sounding that good to him. And things aren’t going well for him. Bart takes advantage of his inability to say no, he misses out on a lifetime supply of Duff by failing to answer Duffman’s inane trivia, and Marge is getting irritated with him somehow gaining weight while having a jaw wired shut.

But because Homer’s fed up with people not being able to understand him he starts to use a little chalkboard, and actually does something shocking. He asks Marge how her day is. And, shocked that he’s actually showing interest, Marge start to tell him all about her day, and her irritation with Ned Flanders. Homer’s found a new pastime! He begins listening to all of his family members, listening to Maggie babble, building models with Bart and hearing about his feelings, listening to Grandpa’s ramblings, and commiserating with Lisa about petty school issues.

Homer’s transformation has even become so drastic that Marge is going to let them go to the Annual Springfield Formal Event, a fancy ball that Homer has a history of acting like an ass at. Usually involving a donkey. So Homer and Marge get dressed up and actually have a great night hobnobbing with high society, even ignoring the mischievous donkey. But as Marge is enjoying her kind and supportive husband they get some devastating news. Dr. Hibbert is ready to take the wires off his jaw.

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Obviously Marge is worried that Homer is going to backslide and go back to his regular, selfish, ways. But, shockingly, Homer doesn’t regress, and actually seems to like his new life as a good listener. He even teaches his buddies at Moe’s about the value of listening, and inadvertently get invited by Lindsey Naegle to some sort of View-esque show to talk about how important it is for men to listen.

So things are going great! Until Marge realizes that a good Homer is a boring Homer. She’s become accustomed to a certain amount of chaos in her life, and with Homer being a good-listener that craziness is missing. Which is make her antsy. So antsy that she decides to do something crazy and stupid herself to balance things out. And just on time she gets a flier that was mean for Homer for some sort of amateur demolition derby. Perfect!

Marge then sneaks out of the house and goes to participate in this crazy demolition derby, as the family find her missing and put things together to find her. But when they arrive they find Marge getting attacked by one psychotic derby participant. And Homer knows that he needs to go back to his old ways, and quickly downs a beer, turns into Popeye, and gets on that damned donkey from earlier. And even though the donkey gives up, Homer is able to save Marge, and the family leave the derby knowing that they’re going to go back to normal, but that it’s probably for the best.

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I really liked this episode. I didn’t remember the episode very well, but I was kind of pleasantly surprised to see that it was pretty great. Now, there are some stumbles, like the weird gay-pride parade thing in the beginning, which felt really strange coming from a show that was so progressive in “Homer’s Phobia,” and there was the weird boner joke from the Soccer Mummy, which just didn’t feel like the Simpsons type of humor to me, but I was kind of shocked at how great the central Homer plot was. I really loved seeing Homer becoming a better husband, father, and son simply by listening more than he used to. That’s pretty great. Plus, I like the ending where they discuss the idea that we all play certain roles in our relationships, and while it’s good to grow in them, complete reversals can be pretty damaging.

Take Away: Be a better listener to everyone in your life. It’s just better that way.

“Jaws Wired Shut” was written by Matt Selman and directed by Nancy Kurse, 2002.

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