We’ve had a weird week so far, folks. We’ve had depressing visions of the future and psychiatric malpractice. You know what will keep this party train going? Underage obesity and heart disease. Woo woo!
The episode oddly enough opens up with some gritty war drama footage, which turns out to be a daydream Principal Skinner is having. Which results in soldiers fighting office supplies and getting brutally stapled. But this fantasy is brushed off when Superintendent Chalmers comes in and yell at him, announcing that it’s time for them to decide who gets the vending machine contract for the school, and will begin shoving poison in their children’s faces.
We get to see a couple of failed presentations, like Captain McCallister’s gumbo machine and Gil’s incredibly inefficient process of kids writing down what they want and him running to the store, but they decide to go with Lindsey Naegle’s product. She’s representing a youth-oriented snack food company called Scammer and Z-Dog, and she convinces Skinner and Chalmers that her horrible machines will be a financial success in Springfield Elementary.
So they sign the paperwork and the machines are installed, complete with the ability to rap at the children, and the kids start using them. And despite the fact that the food is terrible, overpriced, and full of chemicals, the kids absolutely love them. Even after Lisa notices how horrible they are and tries to tell the crowds of kids not to eat it. They just ignore her and keep on stuffing their faces with as much processed sugars and chemicals as they possibly can.
And Bart is no different. Bart quickly becomes addicted to the vending machines, and starts eating it’s crap basically nonstop. He even stops eating dinner at home, preferring the gross snacks he gets from the machines. And slowly but surely that food starts to defeat his youthful metabolism and he starts to get super fat. They even replay the opening of the episode, but with a fat Bart causing problems getting home from school. And while the family run to the couch they notice that Bart isn’t there. Because he’s having a goddamn heart-attack!
That’s not hyperbole. Bart has a literal heart-attack, and is brought to the hospital where Dr. Hibbert explains that this ten-year old boy’s innards are completely wrecked. He explains to Bart that he’s going to have to go on a super strict diet if he wants to survive this. So obviously Bart goes home and just keeps gorging himself on this crap while he watches an Itchy and Scratchy about Itchy being an evil cardiologist trying to kill Scratchy.
But Marge isn’t giving up. She keeps trying to force Bart to eat vegetables and other healthy things, and they even make him stay home and eat vegetables while the rest of the family go to some sort of milkshake festival. However, when Lisa comes back from the festival early she peeps in on Bart’s room and finds that he has a secret stash of garbage in his bedroom, and that he’s still eating all of the crap he’s supposed to be laying off on.
So Lisa narcs on Bart and the next day when he comes home from school he finds a surprise intervention waiting for him. Ned, Dr. Hibbert, Patty, Selma, Krusty, Grandpa, Milhouse, and the family tell him that he’s on a dangerous path and that they want to help him. Bart acts like he’s listening to them for a while, but when it’s time for him to say what he plans on doing, he runs out the door, trying to escape. Unfortunately there’s some men outside waiting for him, who grab him and take him away. Because apparently the family had a Plan B where they were going to ship Bart off to a fat camp.
Bart is then sent off to a fat camp which is run by a delightfully unhinged and insane character voiced by Albert Brooks named Tab Spangler. Spangler is pretty bonkers and just yells all the time, but he’s focused on getting Bart thin, so the family leave him there. And Bart isn’t the only person there, because he also gets to hang out with Apu, Kent Brockman, and Ranier Wolfcastle, all of whom are going to be abused by Spangler just like him, being tied up to a chariot and dragging it around a track.
But there’s a slight problem. The camp is monstrously expensive, and the Simpsons aren’t quite sure how they’re going to pay for it. And left with no choice they have to do something ridiculous. They open the house up as a youth hostel for the abundant supply of German backpackers that come through Springfield. And it seems like living hell, with the horrible German taking over and making the Simpson’s lives miserable.
Meanwhile, Bart is doing terrible at fat camp. He isn’t trying, and even manages to get underneath a huge bucket of ice cream, trying to eat it all. And when Spangler finds him he decides that he needs to amp things up, and really get Bart thinking. So he stick Bart in his car and the two drive off to some mysterious location that Spangler says will make Bart stop eating garbage for good. Bart isn’t convinced about this, especially when he learns that the place they’re going to is the Simpson’s house.
But when they look at the house, Bart sees how insane things have gotten since he’s left. Marge and Homer have basically become slaves for the German tourists, and they seems miserable, and it’s all his fault. This actually does make Bart feel guilty, so he decides to stop eating garbage, and heads over to the school to begin destroying the machines. Which seems a little extreme, but whatever, he breaks them all and takes the money. And once that’s over he gets home, announces to the family that he’s done eating junk food, that he has the money to pay off the fat camp, and everything goes back to normal. Plus, we end the episode with Homer going to the fat camp instead, since they have a credit.
Yeah, I don’t know. This episode is really dark and weird, but I don’t really dislike it or anything. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I liked it, but there was nothing really objectionable about it. I’ll almost certainly forget everything about it in a couple weeks, but it had some interesting ideas. Checking out obesity and examining it in this light is really interesting, and an important topic to discuss and I think it did it alright. Bart basically develops a food addiction in this episode, and while I would have loved to see them examine that more, but this is also a comedy so getting into the nitty gritty of using the instant gratification of food to mask some psychological issues maybe isn’t in the shows wheelhouse. It wasn’t particularly funny, and it only had a surface examination of an important topic, so this wasn’t an episode I enjoyed per say, but it was fine.
Take Away: Food addiction is a real pain in the ass, and learning to eat right and lose weight is a monumentally difficult task.
“The Heartbroke Kid” was written by Ian Maxtone-Graham and directed by Steven Dean Moore, 2005.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons