Lifetime of Simpsons

S21 E01 – Homer the Whopper

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Hi there everybody, and welcome to season 21! Woo, the Simpsons are old enough to drink! And you know the best way to start a new season? Why, by smooshing two different old episodes together! Did you like the episode when they made the Radioactive Man movie? And did you like the episode when Homer became a vigilante named Pieman? Well, what if those episodes had a baby? I think it would look a little something, like this.

The episode starts off with Bart and Milhouse deciding to prank Comic Book Guy. They wander into the Android’s Dungeon, and find Comic Book Guy sitting there, minding his own business. They approach him, and ask him if Spider-Man was a comic before being in a movie. This of course infuriates Comic Book Guy, who yells about Amazing Fantasy #15, even showing them a copy. So, Bart asks if he can buy it, since the cover says it only costs fifteen cents.

Comic Book Guy is disgusted by this, and has to rush to his backroom so he can momentarily faint and calm down. And while Comic Book Guy is away from his counter Bart and Mihouse start snooping. And they find something surprising. Comic Book Guy has been creating his own comic, and is writing and penciling it. And, even more surprising, they like it quite a bit.

The comic tells the story of a deliveryman who has the ability to touch issues of comic books and absorb the powers of the characters that are inside. And with that power he becomes a superhero called Everyman. They read the issue, and find that it tells the tale of Everyman stopping a bank robbery by becoming Iron Man, and when one of the robbers flees he transforms into Plastic Man and is able to apprehend him.

Once they finish the issue Comic Book Guy comes out of the backroom, and is furious that they’re making fun of his work. But when he realizes that they aren’t making fun of it, and that they really likes it, he doesn’t know what to do. But Bart and Milhouse insist that Comic Book Guy should start self-publishing his book. He agrees, and Everyman becomes a huge sensation. Every kid in Springfield begins reading the adventures of Everyman, which is helped out by the fact that Comic Book Guy already had hundreds of comics written and drawn.

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And, despite this episode taking place slightly before the superhero movie boom that we’re currently in, because people are loving a new superhero the movie studios inevitably learn about it. They hear that Everyman is the hot new superhero, so some studio suits head out to Springfield to make a deal with Comic Book Guy. They offer him a lot of money, but there’s one sticking point that he has before signing the contract. He wants to pick the actor who plays Everyman. And, despite how aggravating that sounds, the suits agree, and he signs away his creation.

So Comic Book Guy and the suits hold some open auditions for Everyman. But for some reason they do it in Springfield, so we just get some local weirdoes. Krusty gives it a shot, but Comic Book Guy insists that he’s looking for a dumpy and unappealing loser. Which is exactly when Homer comes strolling in. He has no idea what’s going on, but as soon as Comic Book Guy sees Homer he knows that he’s found his Everyman.

Homer agrees to play the part, much to the surprise of the family, and they get to work on the film. However, as soon as the movie starts being developed the studio suits decide that Homer is too unappealing to carry a movie. They say that Homer needs to lose weight and gain some muscle, so they hire him a famous trainer to the stars named Lyle McCarthy. Homer’s a little against it at first, but quickly takes a shine to Lyle.

The two begin working on Homer’s healthy, getting to the root of his eating issues and putting him on a vicious exercise regimen. They do have a slight argument about what song to play during the training montage, but once that’s settled we just skip ahead a couple months and find that Lyle is really good at his job. Homer has dropped almost all of his weight, and has become kind of ripped. So he’s really looking like a traditional superhero, which wasn’t exactly what Comic Book Guy was looking for.

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But other than that, things are going great. People are really liking what they’ve made of the movie so far, and Homer is loving his new body. Which is exactly when disaster strikes. Lyle tells Homer that he’s gotten a new job, and will have to be leaving Homer to his own devices. Lyle tries to convince Homer that everything will be okay, and that he just has to practice some self-control. But the craft service table comes a-calling, and Homer quickly falls back into his old eating habits.

Homer rapidly resumes his old weight, primarily due to the fact that he’s basically constantly eating now. Even during takes. Everyone is seeing the issues with Homer’s weight, but no one seems to know what to do. Comic Book Guy arrives on set at one point, but he’s sold out and no one really cares about his opinions, letting them toss him right out of the studio. So they just keep filming the movie, getting ready to a test screening.

And it does not go well. The film plays, and Homer’s weight-fluctuations are incredibly noticeable. The continuity in the movie is completely wrecked, and you can see Homer changing size between just about every take. And people hate it. They hate it so much. Homer’s pretty pissed, and chooses to blame Lyle, but that doesn’t help the fact that everyone is going to hate the movie. They tell Comic Book Guy that they’ll let him write and direct the second movie, letting it be exactly what he wants it to be, if he tells his army of followers that this movie is great so that they can recoup losses. But Comic Book Guy’s integrity is too strong, and he refuses, panning the movie on his website, and making it so that it’s never even released to the general public. Everyman is then assumedly locked in the same vault as The Day the Clown Cried, never to be seen by human eyes.

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Okay, so listen. This episode is kind of weak. It really feels like there isn’t much going on here that we haven’t seen in better episodes, and it’s just kind of an amalgamation of influences. Which it probably is. This episode was not written by normal writers. It was an episode guest written by Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg. So, it stands to reason that when given a chance to write an episode of one of the most popular shows of all time, they would pull form what they knew. And, I guess, what they knew were Simpsons episodes they’d seen. There are a couple interesting ideas in here, like Homer dealing with a fluctuating weight, but other than that it’s really all things that we’ve seen in other episodes. Homer being a superhero was more interesting when he actually became a superhero, and Springfield hosting the creation of a superhero movie was far more interesting when it was about Radioactive Man and took a more broad look at filmmaking. Having trouble with your personal trainer isn’t exactly the most relatable thing in the world, despite the fact that actors having to get ripped for one shirtless scene in a superhero movie is quite common. It just ends up being an odd episode that has some good jokes and moments, but largely feels like an episode that you’ve already seen, done better.

Take Away: Weight loss takes personal control, which is really hard.

 

“Homer the Whopper” was written by Seth Rogan & Evan Goldberg and directed by Lance Kramer, 2009.

 

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