Lifetime of Simpsons

S13 E21 – The Frying Game

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Hey, you know what a good way to start the week off would be? Murder and wrongful conviction. Oops, that may be spoiling things. Well, let’s get to it!

The episode starts off with Lenny and Carl arguing about stupid things at Moe’s, when Homer comes marching in to tell everyone about the awesome gift he bought Marge for their anniversary. Which I’m sure is scintillating barroom conversation. Anyway, Homer has for some reason bought Marge a koi pond,which doesn’t seem like that exciting of a gift. And after dispensing some terrible relationship advice, Homer heads home to surprise Marge.

And boy is she surprised. I’m not sure which anniversary “needless fish” is, but I don’t think it was this one. She feigns excitement though, and even ends up meditating out by the pond with Lisa. Well, that is until their meditation is destroyed by some horrible screaming. Bart and Homer run out to help, and they find that the screaming is coming from some awful caterpillar. And right as Homer’s about to stomp it to death, they’re suddenly attacked by an EPA guy who claims that the Screamapillar is an endangered species.

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So now the Simpsons get to take care of some horrible bug, because it’s chosen their home to be its habitat. Their entire life then becomes obsessed with this bug, doing everything they can to take care of it. Which isn’t that easy, because it’s obviously a mistake of evolution, and needs constant supervision. They basically have to treat it like a baby. Which they do, until Homer accidentally crushes it with a book during story time. So he desperately starts burying it, trying to hide the evidence, when the EPA guy comes back, finds the bug just stunned, and arrests Homer.

But it’s not time for jail yet, so instead Homer just gets sentenced to community service, which takes the form of Meals on Wheels. So he begins driving around town, giving old shut-ins their gross food. And one day he stops at some old creepy mansion, and gets invited in by the odd old lady who lives there. And after briefly assuming that she’s a serial killer, he realizes she’s a sweet old lady, and offers to help her out around the house.

Which was a bad call. The old lady, Mrs. Bellamy, quickly begins taking advantage of Homer, calling him all hours of the day to come over to her place and do menial tasks for him. And Marge is not pleased. But Homer doesn’t know how to disappoint the old lady, so Marge offers to go tell her not to call Homer anymore. And it doesn’t go well, because the old lady works her guilt powers on Marge, and ends up forcing Marge to work for her too.

And things end up escalating to the point that Homer and Marge start working as butlers for Mrs. Bellamy, standing by to take care of things during some sort of old lady get together Mrs. Bellamy is hosting. But after the party Homer and Marge are complaining together about Bellamy, when they hear her suddenly scream. So they race through her home, and find her being stabbed by a thief with braces, who is stealing Mrs. Bellamy’s diamond necklace.

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Homer and Marge then call the police, and sit by while they come take the body, and begin investigating. And things aren’t looking great for Homer and Marge. They’re disgruntled “employees” who were the only people in the house when she died, and he will had just been edited to leave all of her money to them. So the Simpsons are now the chief suspects in the murder case.

And that doesn’t make things easy in the town. Everyone starts acting weird around them, scared that they’re ruthless killers. But for a while they manage to shake the rap. That is until the police come over to search the house, and end up finding the diamond necklace that was stolen in Maggie’s crib. So, with that bit of evidence, they’re arrested and sentenced to jail for murder. And after Bart, Lisa, and Maggie are sent to live with Cleetus and his family, Homer and Marge are put in jail.

Unfortunately the Simpsons were stuck with Gil as their lawyer, so they lose their case, and are sentenced to death by electric chair. And in a staggering misunderstanding of the death penalty, they’re almost immediately ready for the execution to begin. But the night before the execution, while Homer’s gorging himself on his last meal, Marge starts to break down. She starts weeping about everything that she’s going to miss now that she’s about to be put to death, knowing that she didn’t deserve it.

So Homer decides to do one last self-less thing in this life, and goes to tell the warden that Marge had nothing to do with the murder, and that he did it all. This is obviously still a lie, but at least it gets her out of things. So Marge is set free, gets the kids, and heads out to watch Homer’s execution. He’s strapped to the electric chair, and is about to be killed, when things get insane. Turns out this isn’t a real execution, it’s a reality show called Frame Up. Apparently Mrs. Bellamy is actually Carmen Electra, and the man with braces is the host. They framed the whole thing as a stunt. But I guess didn’t tell the local police? I don’t know, it’s a ridiculous ending, but everything is wrapped up now.

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What a weird episode. I kind of like it. I have a weird affinity for the episode, probably because I was so obsessed with wrongful conviction and the death penalty while studying criminology in college, and this is such a weird example of it. Who would have thought that the Simpsons would have an episode that checked off those particular boxes? I don’t really need to nitpick on the weird logical leaps that the episode takes with the whole frame-up, and how the police had no idea, and how the death penalty was sped through when it would normally take decades of appeals, because this is also an episode that started off with Homer killing a horrible caterpillar that screamed like a human. It’s not taking place in any sort of reality any more. But it’s a fun little goofy episode.

Take Away: It’s super easy to mess with the American judicial system.

“The Frying Game” was written by John Swartzwelder and directed by Michael Polcino, 2002.

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