Well folks, we’ve made it through another week here on Lifetime of Simpsons. It’s been kind of a rocky road, but there was one very solid episode this week, so I guess that’s something to celebrate. But, we’re ending things on kind of a weird one. I’m still no quite sure how I feel about it, but hopefully by the time I finish writing this article I’ll have decided! Although, one thing I feel certain about is the fact that it opens up with a really fun little short film. It’s a parody of the Disney short Feast, where we see a dog growing old and eating table scraps, but this time it’s Santa’s Little Helper as he gets progressively fatter before dying and going to obese dog Hell. It’s funnier than that sounds.
The actual episode begins with Homer sitting on the couch, gorging on snacks, and watching some show where Krusty goes undercover at a Krusty Burger to see how bad everyone is treated. But, once the reference is finished, they go straight to commercial, where Homer sees something amazing. It’s a special recliner that has a motor in it that will lift the chair up so that Homer doesn’t need to get out of he chair on his own strength.
Homer’s mind is absolutely blown by this concept, and he decides that he needs one of these chairs, no matter what. Well, until he realizes that the thing costs more than a thousand dollars. Which is a problem. Even Homer Simpson knows that he probably shouldn’t waste more than a grand on a chair that just tilts up easier. But, he’s going to find a way to get around that price tag.
Before we see how he accomplishes that, we need to set up another aspect of the plot, and head over to Springfield Elementary, where some sort of event is going on where kids sign up for clubs. Everyone is out in little booths, trying to sell their clubs, and Lisa is among them, trying to get kids to sign up for magic club. And, shockingly, she gets someone whose interested. A new girl named Harper. Lisa and Harper hit it off pretty much immediately, and quickly decide that they should be friends.
That will pay off later though, for now we need to deal with important things. Like chairs. Homer is still thinking about the chair, and comiserating about it at the bar with the guys. Well, actually he just tells them that he’s broke, and needs to buy something that will make him happier. He doesn’t say what it is. But, the guys want to be helpful, and tell him about the idea of crowdfunding. And, as if the show was doing my job for me, they even have Lenny and Carl explain that this isn’t a topical reference, but it’s what they’re going with anyway.
Homer loves the idea though, and heads straight home to set up an account on FriendMoocher in the hope that they’ll give him enough money to buy the chair. He makes a little video, not mentioning the fact that he’s trying to buy a chair, and sends it out to everyone he knows. And, because the video is incredibly pathetic, people start giving Homer some money, out of pity, and before he knows it, he has enough to buy his special chair.
Homer then orders his chair, and quickly falls in love with it. He starts using it constantly, and even records a new video where he thanks his backers for giving him the money to make his dream come true. There’s only one problem. The video finally reveals that he used the money to buy a chair because he’s lazy. And, when his backers realize this, they become pissed. An angry mob is quickly whipped up, and they march to Homer’s house to break the chair in front of him as revenge.
Homer’s completely distraught by this, and doesn’t know what to do with himself. So, eager for distraction, he agrees when Lisa comes home that night and asks if he would take her to a concert. Harper has given Lisa and Homer tickets to a boy band called the Doe-Eyed Boys, and she wants him to come with. Homer agrees, although he’s assuming it’s going to be a terrible night. He keeps making a fuss the whole way, expecting a lousy concert with terrible seats.
But, when they get to the stadium where the concert is being held, Homer learns that their tickets are incredibly VIP. In fact, they’re so VIP that they get to march past celebrities, fancy food and liquor, and even the band themselves to a private box where Harper and her father are waiting. And how did they luck out with these tickets? Well, because Harper’s father is loaded. He’s a venture capitalist who is now incredibly rich, and he owns the stadium that the concert is happening in.
Harper’s father seems a tad insane, he joyfully yells a bunch and smashes his head into the wall at random, but he seems to appreciate Homer being there, and the two make fast friends. Homer doesn’t really have a lot in common with the guy, but he really loves all of the perk of befriending a millionaire, so he rolls with it. Plus, the girls had a great time, so Homer decides to just ride this train as long as possible.
There’s only one problem. When they’re driving home that night Lisa starts to talk about Harper, and how she’s not sure they should be friends. Harper talks over Lisa a lot, and just seems to want to be friends to have someone to boss around. But, nipping this in the bud, Homer tells Lisa that having a rich friend is a great opportunity for both of them, so she should just suck it up and enjoy all the perks that come along with being friends with Harper.
And there are plenty. Because after the success of the concert Harper and her father continue asking Lisa and Homer to come do things with them. They get to go have a special magic show from David Copperfield where the girls get to go up on stage. Harper still acts shitty to Lisa, but Homer keeps saying that it’s all worth it. And, to make things even better, Harper’s father invites the Simpsons to come to his private Caribbean island for a week-long vacation.
Homer is obviously down with this idea, and so is Bart, but Marge has some worries. Namely that the kids have school. But, when Harper’s dad calls and bribes Skinner into shutting the school down for the week, Lisa starts to get weirded out. Harper and her father seem obsessive, and Harper even shows up one day with a new bike for Lisa. The two talk about this, and Lisa ends up starting a huge fight with Harper, saying that they should be friends, and that Harper shouldn’t be so mean, while simultaneously pitying her.
Lisa then storms home, and tells the family the bad news. She says that they aren’t friends anymore, and thus won’t be going to the island. And the family is crushed. Especially Homer. He doesn’t want to give up the perks that come along with Harper’s dad, so when he shows up to talk to Homer, and suggest that they still come to the island anyway, regardless of what their daughter feel towards each other, Homer goes through with it.
The Simpsons then set sail on a yacht to reach Harper’s family’s private island. And, while it was very awkward, they have a great time. There’s all sort of amazing things on the island, and Homer and Harper’s dad even get to sit on the beach and play “Underneath the Mango Tree” like they’re in Dr. No. But, while the dads are having a good time, the daughters are not. Harper and Lisa keep arguing, and Homer is eventually put in the position where he either has to stand up for his daughter, or keep his friend. And, thankfully, Homer does the right thing. He yells at Harper and her dad, and the family head back to Springfield.
Well, at the top of this article I said that I wasn’t sure how I feel about this episode. And, sadly, that’s still the case down here at the end of it. There are some good ideas in here, and I’m always a fan of Homer being a good father to Lisa, even if it takes until the very end. But it’s also just a very odd episode. Homer is just so mopey the whole time, and his idea of Homer just screwing over Lisa for his own personal gains is incredibly shitty. Plus, the only justification for him forcing his daughter into an emotionally abusive friendship is because he’s sad that people took away his fancy chair? I don’t know, there were some solid ideas in here, but there were an equal amount of weird to bad ones that kept me from really enjoying it.
Take Away: You probably shouldn’t put your own happiness over the happiness of your children.
“Friend with Benefit” was written by Rob LaZebnik and diected by Matthew Faughnan, 2015.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons