Lifetime of Simpsons

S27 E09 – Barthood

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Hey there everybody. We’re halfway through a rather mediocre week of episodes, so why not talk about a surprisingly fun little story. It’s a parody of Boyhood, and functions as both a flash-back and flash-forward episode, and I ended up getting surprisingly emotional during it! Oh, and we also see a pretty fun roto-scoped opening, but they family just mock it, so I guess it wasn’t too impressive.

The actual episode begins with a younger Bart laying on the front lawn with a still hairy Homer, looking at the clouds. But this isn’t some peaceful bonding, it’s because Homer slipped on one of Bart’s toy cars and has jacked up his back and neck, letting Bart come and take advantage of him. Eventually someone must show up though, because we then see Homer going to a doctor and put into a neck-brace so he can recuperate.

But, while Homer’s healing they figure that they should have Bart out of their hair to stop frustrating Homer. So, Bart’s going to get to spend some time with Grandpa. They drop Bart off at his house, since this is before the Retirement Castle, and we see Bart and Grandpa having some bonding time. Bart’s a little sad that Grandpa can’t get on the floor with him and play with all of his toy cars, but Grandpa has a better alternative.

He’s going to let Bart drive his car. Grandpa takes Bart to his garage and they get into Grandpa’s pretty nice car. Bart sits on his lap, and they drive around town, giving Bart the time of his life. Which is when we get our first transition. Because as Bart and Grandpa are driving we see them pull up at the Simpson’s house to see that a couple years have progressed, and there’s now a two-year old Lisa in the picture.

Which is driving Bart crazy. They have Professor Frink over at the house, tutoring Bart to help him learn to read, and Frink is quickly getting distracted at how clever and quick Lisa is. And, this is a trend. Because we also see that Lisa has apparently painted the boat picture that hangs above the couch, and in response Bart paints all over the kitchen walls, trying to get attention. And this backfires. Homer just yells at Bart, and ends up repainting over the walls, causing Bart to get frustrated and steal Homer’s car, crashing it into the kitchen.

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Homer and Marge are now at their wits end with little Bart, and they bring him to some sort of counselor for advice. And, she just kind of cuts straight to the problem. She tells them that Bart acts out because Homer doesn’t give him enough attention, and instead showers his affections on Lisa. So, they decide Homer and Bart need some bonding time.

Homer decides that he’s going to take Bart camping, and little Bart is absolutely psyched. They get all sorts of gear, pile into the car, and Homer then drives to some random motel. He explains to Bart that he doesn’t actually want to camp, and Bart has to sadly spend the night in a crappy motel with his father, just getting more and more disappointed. And then, as soon as they get home Homer starts fawning over Lisa’s latest accomplishment, causing Bart to storm up to his room.

We then get another time jump, and this time we skip right over our typical ages and get to a 12-year old Bart and a 10-year old Lisa. It’s Bart’s birthday, and while Bart is preparing to blow out the candles on his cake, Lisa starts bragging about her latest academic accomplishment. This sets Bart off, and he ends up making a scene, telling Lisa that it always has to be about her, and ends up storming out of the house, meeting up with Milhouse to go cause some chaos.

They end up just skating around, throwing rocks and shattering street-lights and venting their rage. Unfortunately, the police end up finding them, and Bart has to flee while Milhouse gets caught and arrested for vandalism. Bart however managed to sneak off, because they ended up being right next to the Retirement Castle. So, Bart slips in and hangs out with Grandpa, getting to escape the police. Grandpa finds the whole thing hilarious, and since Bart is in his room he decides to give him his birthday present. A pretty awesome BMX bike.

We then hop ahead several years, and see that sullen teenager Bart is still obsessed with this BMX bike, and has becomes a master at it. And things with the family have not gotten batter. Things are still very tense, and we see that it’s going to be a rough summer. Lisa and Marge are going to some pre-med camp for the summer, which means that Homer and Bart are going to be alone all summer. So, Marge tells Homer that he’s going to need to do a better job, and establish a solid relationship with his son that summer.

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And he fails at that! Homer tries to talk with Bart a bit, but then just heads out to go drinking at Moe’s, leaving Bart alone. So, in retaliation, Bart decides to throw a massive kegger at the house. Which does lead to us seeing what all the kids will act like as teenagers, which is kind of hilarious. Especially buff and born-again Milhouse. It’s a funny little scene, until Bart notices that someone is smoking weed up in Lisa’s room, and storms up to stop it.

To Bart’s surprise though, the person smoking the weed is Homer. With Chief Wiggum! Bart is kind of weirded out by the whole thing, but Homer actually ends up saying some nice things to his son while baked. The two kind of have a moment together, where Homer explains that the reason he was such a lousy father sometimes was because he was so scared and had no idea what he was doing, and just trying to do his best. But, then he ruins it by saying that both Homer and Bart are screw-ups, and Bart will be messed up too.

Bart gets really upset about Homer’s statement, and ends up running out of the party, telling himself that he needs to talk to Grandpa for advice. Unfortunately, Grandpa has passed away at this time. Bart talks to his grave though, and ends up getting a thought-bubble of Grandpa that tells him to live his dream. We then jump ahead just a bit to see that Bart has signed up for a BMX competition, deciding to finally live his dream. He does pretty well in it, but as he’s about to finish his greatest trick, he literally gets caught in Lisa’s shadow, and crashes. Lisa then springs into action, because she’s pre-med now, and ends up saving Bart, which ends up getting her all the attention and kudos from people.

We then get another time-jump, and I’m really not quite sure where we land. We see that Bart no longer rides his BMX bike, but now draws caricatures on the boardwalk. There’s some sort of graduation parties going on, but at times it feels like Bart and Milhouse are graduating, and other times it feels like Lisa and her grade are. I didn’t quite figure out what was going on. But, what does matter is that Lisa and Bart end up getting into a huge fight, where Lisa says that Bart can’t just blame her for all of the things that go wrong in his life while he squanders his artistic talent by being lazy.

And this awkward and public fight seems to have really helped Bart. Because we get one final time-jump and we see that Bart is now a small-business owner. He has a little shop where he customizes bikes, and makes artwork. He seems to be doing quite well, and we see Lisa and Nelson stop by to talk to him. The two siblings seem to have reached a good place in their relationship, and seem like they’ve both grown up quite a bit. We also see that Bart has painted a massive mural in honor of Lisa. It’s very sweet.

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I enjoyed this episode. Over the last couple of seasons that flash-back and flash-forward episodes have been pretty tedious, but for whatever reason this episode works really well for me. Filling in some little gaps before and after the normal ages for the kids was a lot of fun, and we actually got to see some fun stuff. Really, my only problem was how things kind of randomly switched halfway through. Because the first half of the episode was all about Homer and Bart’s relationship, but then the second half was suddenly a Bart/Lisa episode. It’s strange. But kind of works. The Homer half honestly isn’t that great, and it becomes just one of those Bart/Homer stories where they’re both horrible to each other, and nothing gets done. The best part of that half is honestly the Grandpa stuff, which kind of came out of nowhere, but genuinely warmed my heart and got me emotional at points. We don’t see enough Grandpa/Bart episodes, and this little bit of one was quite effective for me. Likewise, the Bart/Lisa stuff at the end was pretty interesting too. I usually don’t like to see the two siblings hate each other for years, but that last little scene seemed very realistic and the kind of sibling emotional stuff that I really like from these episodes. It was a tad uneven, and I feel like Boyhood doesn’t really have the cultural relevance that will make this parody evergreen, but it was a fun little episode with some surprising heart.

Take Away: Cut your parents some slack, they’re doing the best they can. And don’t be jealous of your sibling, they’re probably not having a great childhood either.

 

“Barthood” was written by Dan Greaney and directed by Rob Oliver, 2015.

 

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