Hey there everyone, and welcome back to another week of Lifetime of Simpsons. And, sadly, it’s not as absolutely insane as last week. We are going to close out Season 23 and begin Season 24, which is cool, but otherwise it’s just kind of a lot of bland episodes. And a real stinker. But that’s getting ahead of ourselves, because today’s episode is a decent little story, that somehow felt a little rushed while dealing with some major stuff.
The episode starts off with every member of the Simpsons family being forced to participate in a Passion Play. Now, if you’re like me and had no idea what a Passion Play is, it’s apparently a thing people do where they reenact the crucifixion of Jesus. To feel bad? I don’t know, Christians focus on weird stuff. All I know is that it means we get to see all the various losers of Springfield, trying to audition to be a part of the show.
But the only casting decision that we really care about is the star of the piece, Jesus. It seems like Ned has gotten this role basically ever year in the recent memory, and he seems like a lock. That is until Homer decides that his only goal in life is to beat Ned, and get the role of Jesus. Which turns out to be very simple, because Homer basically just immediately woos the director, Chazz, and gets the role, really just to rub it in Ned’s face.
Homer then has to grapple with the fact that he agreed to be a major part in this play, and has to start rehearsing. Which mainly just takes the form of Homer playing around with his robes. Until Lisa points out that people don’t really like it when you mess around with Jesus, which scares him enough to decide to actually buckle down and learn his lines. And he does well! Because when the night of the play arrives Homer absolutely nails it. He becomes a real star, and everyone loves his performance. Even Ned, who has to admit how great it was. Well, until Homer’s weight causes the cross to break, which then smashes into Ned’s head, knocking him out.
The show then has to end so that an ambulance can come take care of Ned. Which is when a huge bomb is dropped on us. Because when they prepare to take away Ned we learn that he and Edna have apparently gotten married in secret recently, which they only reveal so that she can be in the ambulance with Ned. Yep, Ned and Edna have tied the knot, which means that the Simpsons have to race to the hospital to make a fuss.
Which is exactly what Ned and Edna didn’t want. They do allow Marge to plan a huge party for them though, so that’s nice. Because they then immediately have to deal with a whole parade of weird Springfieldians who bust into the hospital room to start harassing them, including a news crew and a disheveled Skinner. But hey, things probably won’t get weird at that party that the Simpsons are going to throw, right?
We then get to see how things are going over at the Flanders household, with Edna becoming more and more a part of the family. Rod and Todd really seem to have really taken a shine to Edna, even though she’s struggling to find anything in common with them. Until one day Bart recommends that she start trying to make them more normal, so that they don’t get eaten alive when they get older. So that’s a task.
Meanwhile, Marge and Lisa have begun planning the massive reception for Edna and Ned, which means they have to go to some absurd wedding store where everything is all ready for them in one place. And as someone who has helped plan a wedding, it’s certainly not that easy. But whatever, we get to see some fun themes that are available for the reception, and also learn that basically every other woman in Springfield is jealous that Marge landed this job, and start sniping at Marge constantly.
But things are about to really hit a weird snag. Because one day Ned gets into a bit of a pickle when a meeting of some radical left-handed people goes too long, and he needs Edna to go to a parent-teacher conference for him. And when she gets to the insane Christian school that Rod and Todd attend, and learn that they don’t even teach science, she has no choice but to immediately pull the kids out of this awful school, and make them go to Springfield Elementary.
Ned is obviously not cool with this, but they talk it out a bit and Edna explains that this will make them better, more well-rounded people. Ned kind of accepts that, but that night we see him have a nightmare where he’s some weird claymation Davy and Goliath thing where he’s attending Todd’s graduation from college. And he’s horrified to learn that Todd has graduated from an elite liberal-arts college and majored in comparative religious studies. Which is apparently horrible? I don’t know, but clearly Ned is not cool with this.
But instead of seeing Ned deal with these issues like an adult, we just truck ahead and get to the night of the big party. And people love it! Everything goes off without a hitch, and everyone seems to have an absolute blast. Until Marge has to ask Rod and Todd about their new classes, and they start talking about how much they love it, and how it’s broadening their horizons. Which ends up causing Ned to finally blow. He and Edna then get in a huge fight about her meddling in the boys’ schooling, in front of everyone.
People awkwardly leave the party at that point, and Edna storms back to the house, leaving Ned to stay with the Simpsons. And the next morning Edna ends up talking to Homer and Marge about parenting, and they try to explain that both parents don’t need to be in total agreement all the time. Which is then demonstrated when they get in a huge fight about Bart. For some reason the idea that people are allowed to have differing opinions is a huge revelation for Ned, and he ends up racing to the Elementary School where he publically makes up with Edna in front of a whole assembly, making everything go back to normal.
This episode is a little strange. One the one hand I really like that we’re seeing more stories about Ned and Edna, because I think the decision to put them together is quite interesting. I also really like the central problem that the episode eventually settles on, the debate of how to raise kids when the parents don’t agree on something. But, on the other hand, that lesson is incredibly truncated, rushed, and just kind of easily solved. I think questions like these are monumentally important to a relationship, and it easily could have made for a whole episode that really got into some uncomfortable but necessary places. Instead the idea of the parenting problem doesn’t even rear its head until the end of the second act, making everything madly dash to complete by the end of the episode. I think it would have made a lot more sense to have this episode just be about the town causing a fuss over Ned and Edna’s new marriage, and then save this story for a full-length story, because as it stands this ends up being an interesting premise that gets rushed to completion.
Take Away: Parenting is hard work, and you need to come to compromises and agreements, because it’s impossible that both participants are going to agree on everything.
“Ned ‘N Edna’s Blend” was written by Jeff Westbrook and directed by Chuck Sheetz, 2012.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons