So yesterday I said that this week was going to be much better than last week. Which is true. Pretty much across the board everything this week is a step up from Lackluster Week. However, today’s episode sure is odd. I don’t know if it’s a particularly good episode, but it’s kind of so weird you have to respect it. It’s like a goddamn fever dream. So let’s try to figure out what the hell is up with this episode!
Things start off with Homer, Lenny, and Carl standing in the office, eagerly waiting for Mr. Burns to leave for the day so that they can sneak out. Things hit a snag when Burns starts talking to some dude in the parking lot, but Homer takes care of it by calling the guy and threatening to kidnap his wife if he doesn’t leave. And once that’s taken care of the guy flees, Mr. Burns leaves for the day, and Homer gets to go home early.
He gives Marge a call, telling her all the fattening things he wants for dinner, when he gets some bad news. It’s the first of the month, and he had promised to start a diet, so she won’t be cooking him anything fattening. So Homer does the only thing he can, and goes to have a junk-food binge. Apparently Springfield has a fast-food boulevard that’s nothing but horrible fast-food restaurants, so Homer heads over and begins poisoning himself with food.
Homer fills himself up with all the crappy food he can handle, and realizes that he has a bit of a problem. His entire passenger seat is full of wrappers and other evidence of his food crimes, so he figures he has to get rid of them otherwise Marge will figure out what he did. Luckily Krusty Burger has a drive-up trashcan, so Homer just gets rid of everything. And once that’s accomplished he figures he could just get rid of all the other trash in his back seat.
This doesn’t seem to be a problem, except for when Homer tosses in a rotten car battery. The battery settles down to the bottom of the trash can, and starts to drip acid, which burns through the can, the road, and opens up a gas main. Homer then lights himself a cigar, and tosses in the still-lit match, which ignites the gas main and ends up causing a chain reaction that blows up the fast-food boulevard, destroying every single building.
Springfield then obviously has to hold a Town Hall meeting to discuss the horrible tragedy of the loss of their junk food. And, for once, the town quickly decides that they need to do something, and tell Quimby that they want to rebuild fast-food boulevard. Quimby explains that they still need to vote on the measure, and the next vote is the Presidential primary in the next year. However Springfield doesn’t want to wait that long to have fast-food, so they decide to move their Presidential primary up to next week, causing them to become the first primary in the nation.
And this decision immediately becomes a big deal. We see Dan Rather and a bunch of other journalists in New Hampshire, interviewing people who are typically the first primary voters in the nation, when they find out that Springfield is now first, and thus are more important. So the journalists flee from New Hampshire and begin flocking to Springfield, desperate to fill the 24 hours news cycle. And the people of Springfield do not appreciate being inundated with politicians and pundits.
And we then get to see how quickly this primary will ruin Springfield. We get to see all of the journalists arrive, including Jon Stewart, which leads to a great gag where Krusty desperately tires to get jokes from him. After that we cut to a focus group where people are trying to give their opinions on Republican commercials. The commercials are pretty terrible, just grasping at straws like most Republican commercials, but they seem to be effective to morons, so, exactly what they were going for.
Next up we see various campaigns staffers wandering Springfield, trying to canvas for their candidates. However this proves difficult since every house in town has a sign for the candidate they’re going for. Well, every house except the Simpson’s. The staffers realize that they’re undecided, and immediately bombard the Simpsons will candidates. All the candidates just break into the Simpson’s house, trying to convince them to vote for them, and get good sound-bites. But the Simpsons refuse to play along, and just kick everyone out.
And this decision makes Homer something of a hero in Springfield, because everyone is beyond fed-up with the politicians and this whole media circus. They all meet at Moe’s and try to brainstorm ideas on how to get everything back for normal. And Homer comes up with something insane. The reporters are all there trying to figure out how Springfield is going to vote so they can proclaim a front runner and move on. But what if they made up a ridiculous front runner?
The people of Springfield decide that the best way to get revenge on the pundits is if they all write-in their own insane candidate, messing with the whole system. And they of course decide that Ralph Wiggum is the perfect choice. So Springfield overwhelmingly votes of Ralph Wiggum, making all of the pundits proclaim that this eight-year old boy is now the front-runner for the Presidency. However, the pundits don’t realize that this is ridiculous.
The pundits continue to talk about Ralph, and start making up positions and platforms that he has based on sound bites they got from bombarding him. And the people of Springfield find this hilarious. But it gets less hilarious when the local members of the Republican and Democratic parties decide that they should actually vote for Ralph at the convention. This then starts a slippery slope where both parties try to convince Ralph to be their candidate.
Ralph panics, not really knowing what the hell is going on. The representatives of the parties show up with the media at his house, and start pressuring him to pick one of them. Ralph is terrified, and Lisa decides to come help him, telling him that he has a chance to say something important. And Ralph surprises her by seeming to have some good ideas regarding getting people to talk instead of fight. This somehow leads to Ralph being both the Republican and Democratic candidate, which I guess makes him the next President? I don’t know, the episode just kind of ends at this point. So I guess we can all assume that Ralph Wiggum is the President in the Simpsons.
This episode is weird as hell. It’s very complicated, in a way that I think works against it, but it goes o completely off the rails by the end that I kind of found myself fascinated with it. The first two acts, with Springfield becoming the source of a political circus was actually pretty great. I like the idea of Springfield accidentally becoming politically relevant and being inundated with pundits, and I also like the idea of Springfield hating that. I think the episode does suffer a bit by jumping around constantly between gags instead of giving us a more personal story with Homer or Marge being courted by a candidate or something, but it was fine. Then the Ralph stuff starts, and the episode becomes insane. I may have misunderstood that ending, but Ralph became the candidate for both parties? That’s insane. Although, the idea of a charismatic idiot who is dominating the news cycles being picked up by one of the parties who don’t care what he stands for and just care about the coverage he gets them…sounds kind of plausible now. Maybe it even happened. Yes. It happened.
Take Away: Politics are stupid, easily gamed, and you shouldn’t trust pundits, they’re just trying to get viewers.
“E. Pluribus Wiggum” was written by Michael Price and directed by Michael Polcino, 2009.