Everybody, I’m going to be real with you. This week kind of sucks. Just kind of top to bottom terrible episodes. And today is no different. Because who doesn’t want to watch Homer be subjugated to electro-shock therapy because Ray Romano won’t get out of his head? That sounds like a blast!
The episode begins with us seeing that Springfield is in the midst of a ridiculously powerful thunderstorm that’s slowly flooding the entire town. And, of course, the Simpsons have a pretty intense leak in their roof, letting water into the house constantly. Homer decides to fix it by setting up an elaborate Hot Wheel’s track to push the water out of the house, instead of fixing the room, but all that ends up accomplishing is creating a hamster water slide, so it doesn’t go great.
And instead of accepting the fact that he should do something better than ignore the water problem, Homer decides to be a sulk child and storm off to Moe’s, ignoring the fact that his house is leaking. And things aren’t that much better at Moe’s, because when Homer comes in he finds that they’re all waiting for Lenny to have a surprise party that they didn’t invite him too. They decide to yell at Homer, especially when he ruins the surprise when Lenny actually comes in, and they kick him out of the bar to wander the rainy night.
Instead of going home Homer just keeps driving around in the rain until he finds a new place to get drunk. A Hooters knockoff called Knockers. Homer heads on in, and is a little depressed at how surly everyone at the bar is, giving him yet another place that doesn’t seem to want him around. However, just as he’s about to give up he strikes up a conversation with the guy next to him, and the two make quick friends. His name is Ray, and it turns out he’s a roofer, so he offers to come over the next day and help Homer fix his roof, and therefore fix his relationship with his family.
The next morning Homer wakes up on the couch and finds that his family still are pissed at him for doing nothing to fix their roof. But he assures them some new friend of his will show up and fix everything, so they head out to run errands while Homer waits for Ray. And after a while he does show up and the two get to work patching the huge hole in the roof. The two goof off on the roof, firing nails at each other, and even shoot some at Ned. However, after playing around a bit Ray get a page and has to leave, prompting Homer to fall through the roof into the attic and fall asleep on some rags.
Which is where Marge finds him later that day, and she is not happy. Both because Homer is asleep and not fixing the roof, and because the hole is now bigger from Homer falling through it. Homer tells her that Ray was helping, and that he’ll be back. But Marge doesn’t want to hear any part of it, telling Homer that Ray’s apparently a flake, and that she wants him to go to the hardware store, buy some new shingles, and fix the damned roof himself.
Oh, and there’s also this weird B-Plot that pops up around here, but it’s so inconsequential and pointless that I’ll just fire it out right here. It starts with Marge and the kids bringing Santa’s Little Helper to the vet, and stopping by the Retirement Castle beforehand. And when they get there they’re shocked to find the old folks love him, and decide to leave him there for a bit to cheer them up. But when they come back they find that the old folks aren’t any more cheerful, and they’ve made Santa’s Little Helper act older. So they take him back, and the plot is over.
Anyway, we see Homer and Bart heading to a hardware store to buy some shingles. And while Bart is off carrying the boxes himself, Homer runs into Ray. The two chat for a bit, and Ray explains that he got caught up with something, but that once he’s done buying some stuff he’ll head over to the Simpsons house and finish the project. So Homer leaves the store with Bart, and they head back home so Homer can sit on the roof and await Ray.
And that takes a long time. Homer sits on the roof all day, eagerly awaiting his new friend to show up and be helpful, and Marge is not happy. She yells at Homer a bit, but slowly but surely she starts to get a little worried. And it all escalates when she comes up to the roof to explain to Homer that she’s figured something out. Ray isn’t real. Homer obviously thinks that this explanation is ridiculous, but Marge asks him to come to a mental hospital to get checked out, just in case.
And things don’t look good. Dr. Hibbert is waiting for them there, and they begin talking about Ray, having a mini intervention. It turns out no one but Homer has actually seen Ray. The bartender at Knockers says that Homer was sitting there alone, Ned says he only saw Homer on the roof that day, and Bart says he saw Homer talking to himself at the hardware store. Plus, it turns out Ray’s name is an anagram for imaginary. So at least Homer’s subconscious is a genius.
Homer doesn’t really want to believe that he made Ray up because he was feeling unappreciated, but he’s open to start treatment. Which is apparently electro-shock therapy. Let’s go with that. Homer gets strapped to a table and therapeutically shocked for a while, while they try to hammer out his sense of reality. And after six weeks of electro-shock, they decide that Homer is all better, and he’s released to go home.
Which is right when Ray shows up. And, surprise, everyone else can see him too. Apparently Ray’s been real the whole time, and he’s just super unreliable. But how does that make sense? Barely! The bartender at Knockers had an eyepatch, which apparently covered up Ray the whole time, Ned didn’t see him because he was behind the chimney, and Bart didn’t see him because a tear in the fabric of space and time created a miniature black hole in the hardware store that obscured him. Whatever. Ray’s real, Homer’s sane, and they fix the roof. We’re done.
This episode was just a total and complete dud for me. It just has a really weird feel about it. It kind of feels like one of those episodes where they build it around a celebrity coming in and playing themselves to talk about how great they are, but Ray Romano is playing a character that Homer thinks is the funniest person on Earth. Ray is a bad-joke machine in this episode, but Homer just keeps telling us he’s hilarious, and by the end of the episode they’re just flat out telling us to watch Everybody Loves Raymond, which is a terrible idea. And to make matters worse there’s all the weird Shock Corridor –esque understandings of how mental health works, and that electro-shock is a great therapy that actually works. Which is debatable. Plus, it’s got that insanely stupid ending to explain that Ray’s actually real. Honestly the episode would have been more interesting if it was actually Homer having a break from reality. But as it stands it’s just a pretty stupid episode that just felt like a chore to get through.
Take Away: If you have the slightest inkling that someone has a mental disorder, you should probably just hook them up to a car battery and shock that shit right out of them. At least that’s what this episode was espousing.
“Don’t Fear the Roofer” was written by Kevin Curran and directed by Mark Kirkland, 2005.