Hey everybody, are you ready for a really weird episode about piano lessons, young love, and the apparent devastation of male pattern baldness? Eh, it’s fine I guess. Oh, it does start with a Robot Chicken opening sequence where we see Homer cause all sorts of chaos in Springfield when he realizes he’s a toy. That’s kind of neat. Anyway, on with the episode.
The actual story begins with Marge sitting in Principal Skinner’s office, chatting with him about Bart. But, shockingly, it’s not to talk about what Bart’s done wrong, it’s to talk about the idea of changing Bart’s character. Because Skinner has a new idea, among his dozens of failed ones, and he thinks this one will actually work to help Bart. He thinks Bart should learn to play a musical instrument, which will harness his destructive impulses into something artistic. You know, like that episode several seasons ago where he learned to play the drums?
Marge actually likes this idea, possibly because it’s already worked in the past, so she heads home to propose the idea to Bart. She interrupts him watching some gameshow where people compete to put as many tattoos on their baby as possible. Classy! Anyway, Marge tells Bart that he should start learning an instrument, and he actually does show some interest in doing so. Until Marge suggests that Lisa teaches him.
The idea of his little sister teaching him how to play some sort of music is pretty lame already, but she makes it even worse when she makes it clear that the foundation of these lessons will be focused on music theory, the easiest way to make people stop being interested in music. But Bart does still like the idea of learning music, so he and Marge head around town, looking for the perfect instrument, and he perfect teacher for Bart. Which leads to a lot of fun gags, like Sideshow Mel teaching the slide-whistle, Comic Book Guy teaching some sort of Dune instrument, and Frink’s weird Theramin thing that makes noises like he does.
But before we get to the instrument that Bart settles on, we need to establish the incredibly inconsequential side-plot for this episode. It all starts one morning when Homer is getting ready, and ends up losing those top two hairs on his head. He starts freaking out about the fact that he’s even more bald than normal, and tries all sorts of ways of hiding it, mainly by wearing weird hats. He goes all around town, trying to keep his baldness from Marge and unsuccessfully trying to get advice from his male friends around town.
That’s it for now on the bald front though, let’s shift back to Bart. Because he’s actually found an instrument that he enjoys. Well, actually he’s found an instructor he enjoys. Marge ends up finding a young woman named Zhenya who teaches piano in her father’s house, and she brings Bart by to see if he likes piano. He doesn’t care about piano, but he instantly becomes smitten with Zhenya, and decides to learn piano just to be with her as much as possible.
Marge and the father, Slava, then make a deal where Marge will teach Slava to drive in exchange for Bart’s lessons, and they get to work. Marge gets to deal with Slava, having a lot of difficulties teaching him even the basics of driving, but that’s not super important. What is important is the fact that Bart loves going to piano classes, mainly to just ogle Zhenya. He’s not very good at the piano, but he keeps finding himself having weird day dreams where he’s incredible, and Zhenya loves him.
Although, one does begin to wonder if Zhenya notices how little progress Bart is making. And eventually they talk about it, and it turns out that she doesn’t really give a crap about teaching people to play the piano, she’s just trying to make enough money for Slava to start a limo company, and she wants Bart to be successful so that more people will hire her, and they can make more money to get this weird limo scheme going.
Bart hears this and decides that he needs to do something to help Zhenya and her father, which will make her love him. Bart then buckles down, and begins studying and practicing on his own time as much as he can, trying to be perfect at the piano. And, sometime later, he ends up giving a really great recital that impresses everyone. And, once he’s done, he lets everyone know that Zhenya was his teacher, lining up a bunch of work for her. Oh, and at this point we learn that Bart didn’t actually play any of that music. It was a player piano, and he was faking the whole time. Whoops!
Before we see how this player piano fiasco plays out though, we should finish off that weird Homer plot. Because Homer is still really upset with the fact that he’s more bald than usual, and no one seems able to cheer him up. Well, until Lenny and Carl tell him to just man up and deal with it, because he has a good wife and a good life, so who cares if he’s bald? Oh, and to make things better some random bald dude at the Plant shows up to tell Homer that he should just be confident about his baldness, and everything will be okay. And then, by the end of the episode, Homer finally reveals his bald head to Marge, and she really doesn’t care. And that confidence makes his hair grow back to normal? Whatever.
Back to the more interesting plot! Now that Bart has had his successful performance, he’s all set to come to Zhenya and be thanked for helping her out. He does have to deal with Lisa being weird and trying to tell him that she knows he faked it all, but that doesn’t lead anywhere. However, when he goes to talk to Zhenya, he finds something he wasn’t expecting. She’s not really that thankful, and she cares more about the fact that she’s raking in the money for Slava’s business. Which really bums Bart out.
So, with no more reason to deal with this charade anymore, Bart heads home to tell Marge that it was all a fraud. However, when he gets there he finds how proud Marge is, and that she’s signed him up for some sort of kid talent show. And, unable to tell Marge the truth, Bart decides to just go with it, and goes to the talent show. But when they get to the talent show Bart realizes he can’t fake it, and just announces to everyone that he lied. They’re all horrified, especially Marge, and she ends up really mad at him. Well, until Slava shows up with his limo, and tells Marge that Bart cheated for the right reasons, and that she should still be proud of him. That doesn’t really track, but it works for Marge, and she ends up forgiving him.
This episode is generally fine, but incredibly forgettable. Like I said up top, the idea of Bart dealing with his destructive impulses by learning an instrument has already been done, and frankly done better, but this one didn’t end up with Bart smoking weed with old blues musicians, so I guess it’s less weird. Instead it randomly becomes a plot where Bart has to deal with letting Marge down, kind of like “Marge’s Son Proud” when he became a momma’s boy and wanted to do a talent show with her. This whole episode just feels a little hodgepodge from previous ideas, and didn’t have a lot of originality to it, I guess other than seeing Bart be one of those guys who thinks that a girl should love him because he did a favor for him. So the only thing that really spiced this episode up was having Bart be a shitty reddit user. Neat. But I guess that’s a little harsh. It isn’t a bad episode. It’s just fine. The Homer plot is maybe actively bad, but the rest of the episode is just kind of mediocre.
Take Away: Embrace your baldness and don’t enact elaborate ruses to pressure women into liking you.
“The Fabulous Faker Boys” was written by Brian McConnachie and directed by Bob Anderson, 2013.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons
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