After yesterday’s brief flirtation with sanity I think it makes sense to get things back to the ludicrous. Because today’s episode starts off normal, and flies completely off the rails by the end. But not necessarily in a bad way. Let’s dig in.
The episode begins with Bart waking up on a Monday morning, getting ready to get his day started. And it does not go well. Everything that could possibly go wrong to Bart happens, and he has an absolutely miserable day. And, to add insult to injury, it’s not just Monday. We’re then given a montage showing that Bart’s entire week is horrible, and he gets more and more depressed and jaded as the week goes on.
So, by Friday afternoon Bart is a goddamn mess. He heads home, completely depressed, and flips on the television. And when he does so he finds a commercial waiting for him. A commercial for a cruise line that promises to get anyone out of any type of rut they may be in. And it’s a hell of an ad, because it instantly convinces Bart that the only way to fix this funk he’s in is to get himself on a cruise! Now it’s time to convince Homer and Marge!
It does not go well. They calmly explain to Bart that cruises are too expensive, and they won’t be able to afford a trip. So, Bart does the logical thing and attempts to buy himself a ticket. Unfortunately even the absolute worst cabin on the ship is far outside his budget. So Bart’s going to need some money. Which means it’s time to hold a garage sale and sell literally everything in his bedroom. And, it goes well, Bart sells everything he owns. But he still doesn’t have enough.
That night though when Marge checks in on Bart and sees him sleeping on the floor of his empty room with his jar of money, she realizes she needs to do something. The whole family gets together, they all sell important things to them, and they manage to scrape enough money together to afford an economy cabin on the ship. The Simpsons are going on a cruise! And Bart is incredibly excited, and grateful for his family’s deeds.
The family then get ready for their vacation, pack everything up, and head to the ship while Homer complains incessantly about how crappy vacations are for dads. Until they see the boat. Because it’s insane. It’s massive, has pools, go-kart tracks, rock climbing walls, and all sorts of other amenities. Oh, and because the cruise was overbooked, when they get there they’re given a huge upgrade, letting the Simpsons to stay in a massive suite.
They start to get settled in their huge cabin when an announcement from the Cruise Director comes over their television, telling them all about the various amenities on the ship, along with giving them a checklist of all the fun things to do. The kids then race off to do stuff, giving Homer and Marge time to have sex on a family vacation. The holy grail. We then see Lisa find out she’s been put into a special elite children group on the ship, letting her geek out. Oh, and Bart does absolutely everything he can, like the water park, the go-karts, rock climbing, reptile petting, stage magic, firework wars, indoor skydiving, ship history, and cowboy time.
So yeah, everyone had a pretty rad day. They all meet up at the end of the evening for dinner, telling each other about the fantastic time they had. And everyone thanks Bart for coming up with this idea, making him very happy. Which is a perfect time to shatter that. Because while they’re eating the Cruise Director begins talking to everyone about the cruise, and ends up singing a weird song about how you should enjoy the cruise while you can, because it’s fleeting and then you’ll go back to your old lives.
And this bums Bart the hell out. Bart’s worried that this week will be fun, but then he’ll go straight back to his rut. And, not only that, he’s convinced that this week will be the highlight of his life, and it’ll all be downhill from here, leading to a lifetime of disappointment. Which means that Bart is going to have to do something to fix this. And no, he’s not going to do something to make himself happier. He’s going to do something to keep them on the cruise forever.
We then see the rest of the vacationers enjoying a nice, relaxing luau, when something odd happens. All of the televisions on the boat are suddenly cut in by a military general, who tells them that a horrible virus has begun spreading around the world. It’s killing off vast swaths of the population, and they’re forcing everyone on the boat to quarantine and remain at sea until further notice. And, logically, everyone on the boat starts to freak the hell out.
Which is a shame, because it’s all bullshit. We see that Bart has taken a direct-to-DVD movie no one has ever seen and played it over the televisions. Oh, and he’s sabotaged the ship’s communication array, making it so no one can contact the mainland and get confirmation of what’s happening. So Bart wins. He got his wish, and now everyone is going to have to stay on the ship indefinitely. The only problem is, Bart thinks this will make things fun.
It does not. The ship quickly devolves into a weird post-apocalyptic city. They have cults, everyone is terrified, and there’s a distinct lack of food and hygiene. Everyone is completely demoralized, and they’re starting to become broken people. Except Bart, who is still convinced that cruises are a blast, and that everyone should be having fun. Unfortunately, his family does not agree. Lisa and the smart kids are worried about recording all of human culture, and Homer and Marge are way too stressed out to be having fun. Which all really starts to piss off Bart.
But don’t worry, things are about to get much worse. Because one day while everyone is struggling to survive, Marge and Lisa find something shocking. The movie that Bart tricked everyone with. They realize that the whole thing was a prank, and are not pleased. So they bring Bart to the ship’s new Fun Court, and throw him on the mercy of the court. Everyone is furious at Bart, even though no one could figure out that this was all just a bad movie. Hell, Treat Williams was in the movie, and on the ship, and even he didn’t realize! So, what do you think they’re going to do to the Simpsons?
Why, leave them stranded on Antarctica, of course. Yeah, the family are trapped in the least hospitable part of Earth, and they are not happy. Bart tries to explain that he wasn’t trying to be selfish, and just wanted his family to be as happy as they were forever, but no one really cares. Until they find themselves at a colony of penguins. They see the penguins being happy, and Lisa decides to teach Bart that life can be painful, but the trick is to enjoy the nice experiences, and to have fun, not just think about it. They then have a good time with the penguins, and enjoy life, until they’re presumably saved and brought back to civilization. Probably by Moe.
This is a very weird episode, but it’s one that I actually found myself enjoying. I think the central premise, that Bart is caught in a rut or some sort of mid-life crisis, is pretty fun. I feel like a different show would have done the more logical thing and made Homer the central figure of this episode, having him be depressed with adulthood and wanting a break from reality. But the decision to make it Bart is so weird, and makes the story much more interesting. Yeah, things kind of break down by the end when the Simpsons are suddenly hanging out with penguins, and they don’t bother to explain how they got home, but for the most part I really enjoyed this weird story of Bart trying to make his family happy, while worrying that his life is passing him by.
Take Away: Don’t worry about living your life, just live it.
“A Totally Fun Thing That Bart Will Never Do Again” was written by Matt Warburton and directed by Chris Clements, 2012.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons