You know, I’ve been a little hard on the last two episodes. Yeah, they didn’t do it for me, but they weren’t terrible or anything. Plus, the week is going to end with two pretty fun episodes. Because while today’s episode walks dangerously close to becoming insufferable, I still had a pretty good time with it.
The episode begins with Homer and Bart hanging out in a park. Bart is busy picking on other children, while Homer awkwardly stands around, making small talk with one of the moms. And while they’re chatting Homer starts to get the impression that the lady might be flirting with him, which gives him quite a confidence boost. Well, until she mentions that she thinks Homer just be one of the kids’ grandfather.
Yeah, that kind of stings. Homer is pretty much instantly tossed into a depressive state, worrying that he’s become old and uncool. And this funk continues for quite some time, and we end up seeing him moping around work one day, when he heads into the breakroom for a donut. And when he gets there he finds that everyone is enjoying some fancy, artisanal donuts from a place called Devil Donuts. And, as his luck would make it, there aren’t any left for Homer.
Homer then decides to needs to leave work and go on a quest to find these donuts, desperate to find anything to lift his moods. And after enlisting the help of the police they eventually track down where the Devil Donuts came from. It’s just a simple foot-truck, run by a hipster guy named Terrence, and unfortunately, he’s fresh out of donuts. Homer gets pretty distraught, until Terrence gives him a prototype beer-filled donut he’s been working on.
Terrence and Homer then start chatting. Turns out Terrence is from Portland, but he and his wife left the city when it got a little too corporate, so now he, his wife, and his two kids are just driving around the country, selling donuts and trying to find somewhere to settle down. And this information stuns Homer. Because this guy seems as cool as can be, and he’s a dad. So Homer makes it his goal to befriend Terrence, and figure out how he can be a cool dad too.
And the first step in this plan is to mention that rent in Springfield is cheap, and that there’s a house for sale right next to him that’s been desperate for an applicant. So, Terrence and his wife Emily check it out, and end up buying the house. And, after a couple months of renovations, they end up turning the house next to the Simpson’s into a pretty modern place for them to live. And, of course, they invite Homer and the family over to get to know each other better.
The Simpsons then go over to Terrence and Emily’s house, meet their son T-Rex, their baby daughter Corduroy, and their armadillo Chewy, and get to gawk at their hip home. Bart and Lisa have to hang out with T-Rex, who is a little insufferable, and see his room full of weird vintage toys and foreign comics. Bart hates him, but Lisa is instantly enamored with his tastes. Marge also isn’t loving these new neighbors, since she doesn’t have a lot to say to Emily, and is terrified when Emily starts breastfeeding right in front of Marge.
But Homer loves it. He and Terrence are getting along great, and he starts agreeing to every crazy idea that Terrence has. They agree to share a yard by taking down their fence and start composting together, which really starts to grate on Marge. She’s worried that Homer is changing everything about himself, and she tries to convince him that she always thought he was cool before all of this. But Homer won’t listen to her, and keeps hanging out with Terrance and Emily as much as possible, changing everything about his life.
And, to make matters worse, the kids really quickly start getting worn out by all of these new activities. Homer and the kids start going everywhere with Terrence and T-Rex, going shop for records, looking at art galleries, checking out roller derby, and going to Korean gangster flick festivals. And Marge is really starting to worry that the kids are running themselves ragged, while also becoming a tad pretentious.
But, lucky for Marge, everything is about to fall apart. Because some time later the family are invited to come to T-Rex’s birthday party, which is taking place in an abandoned factory. The family get there, and are pretty baffled about the whole aesthetic of this child’s birthday party. But it gets worse! Because Marge goes to find the other moms, and ends up finding them in a room where they’re all breastfeeding. She’s quickly not okay with this, and especially so when it comes out that she doesn’t breastfeed Maggie, and uses formula, which horrifies the other women.
However, things can get even worse! Because Bart is standing around with T-Rex while he opens the gifts he’s been given, and mocking them all, when Homer’s gift arrives. It’s a handmade denim jacket, and it’s terrible. And this gives T-Rex the initiative to start mocking Homer, and calling him a lame poser. And this breaks Bart. He ends up snapping and starts yelling at T-Rex, getting into a fight that ends with Bart hitting T-Rex. The whole party then grinds to a halt, and Homer and Terrence get in a fight before the Simpsons storm out of the party.
Homer is then immediately pissed at Bart, furious that he possibly made Homer lose his friendship with a cool guy. Which is when Bart and Marge finally just tell him everything about how weird that family was. Marge tells Homer about the breastfeeding stuff and Bart tells Homer about T-Rex making fun of him. And this finally clicks for Homer, and he starts to realize how weird Terrence and his family were, and how little they all had in common.
Which means it’s time for Homer to swing wildly to the other side! Because now he hates Terrence. The two start squabbling all the time, and their relationship reaches the point that Ned has to step in and mediate their fight. Homer and Marge tell Terrence and Emily that their whole hipster ethos is too weird for Springfield, and they suggest they move. Terrence and Emily have a different idea though. They send out a message to the hipster world, naming Springfield a great city to move to.
And, just like that, Springfield is inundated with new citizens, who rapidly transform Springfield from a semi-quaint small town into a hipster Mecca. And the Simpsons hate it. Oddly enough, the rest of Springfield seems really down with it, and accept the fact that Springfield is now turning into a weird synthesis of Portland and Austin. But the Simpsons hate it, so they continue to plot some way to ruin it all.
While they get to work trying to sabotage this new order though, Bart ends up striking up a conversation with T-Rex. The two chat in their respective backyards, and they end up finding common ground and forming a truce. Bart then invites T-Rex in to watch TV with him, even though T-Rex is supposed to do some maintenance to their compost heap. But he ignores that, and goes to watch cartoon and eat sugar with Bart. Which is when the compost heap lights on fire.
Meanwhile, Homer and Marge have pretty quickly given up on their quest to destroy Terrence and Emily, and instead go to apologize to them at a festival in the town square. They accept their apology, and almost immediately learn that there’s a fire at their house. Unfortunately, the Springfield fire department has become hipster as well, and they don’t actually have the capability to fight the fire. So, joining forces, Homer and Terrence come up with a plan to douse the flames with all of the weird Krusty-brand baby-formula Marge has. And it works! Homer and Terrence have found common ground, and everyone is happy. Until they learn that the New York Times have named Springfield as a hot new city, officially making the city dead. All of the hipsters then immediately leave Springfield, to find their new homes.
I like this episode. I think it’s a lot of fun to have Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein essentially reprise some Portlandia roles as Terrence and Emily, and having Patton Oswalt be their horrible son is a great idea. Plus, I really like the concept of Homer meeting hipsters, and loving their lifestyle. Because, honestly, hipsters have some pretty great ideas. I really don’t like the whole “irony” side of that lifestyle, and I certainly don’t spend much of my time worrying about how cool or hip I am, I love a lot of the same things they do. I love records, weird movies, thick glasses, and artisanal foods, which comes part and parcel with hipsters invading your town. Really the only thing that kind of struck me as weird about this episode was how quickly the Simpsons turned on the hipsters, and basically started wanting their kind of out Springfield because they were different. Because the problem with Terrence and Emily wasn’t that they were different, it was because they were kind of assholes. It doesn’t matter that they don’t fit the mold of a typical Springfield citizen; it was the fact that they were judgmental and sort of rude. I don’t like that we saw Marge as kind of close-minded and scared of people being “weird.” But I guess it works out in the end, so that’s cool.
Take Away: It’s okay to be a hipster, just don’t be an asshole about it.
“The Day the Earth Stood Cool” was written by Matt Selman and directed by Matthew Faughnan, 2012.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons