Lifetime of Simpsons

S28 E08 – Dad Behavior

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Listen, the creators of the Simpsons heard you loud and clear. You all loved that Kirk Van Houten-centric episode from Monday. So, to reward you, they’re giving us a second episode that has Kirk in it. Plus, a lot of stuff about the complexity of fatherhood! What an embarrassment of riches!

The episode begins with Homer sitting on the couch, watching a TV that’s just barley perched atop a pile of un-assembled furniture. Marge comes in and complains that Homer is just being lazy instead of putting the furniture together, and Homer counters that him watching a DVD of mascots fighting is far more important. He loses that argument, and is tasked with spending the rest of the day struggling to understand instructions and put together some cabinets and credenzas.

Homer then starts working on the furniture, which has vaguely IKEA-esque instructions, and he’s having a hell of a time getting it to work. In fact, he quickly gets trapped inside a cabinet, and is unable to reach the Alan wrench to save himself. But, he’s able to reach his phone, so he gives Barney a call for help. But, Barney has no interest in actually helping Homer, and instead tells him about a new service he uses called Chore Monkey.

Chore Monkey is an app where you can request someone show up to your house and do things for you. So, Homer downloads the app, while still stuck in the cabinet, and waits for a guy from Chore Monkey to show up and disassemble the part of the cabinet that he’s trapped in. And, thanks to that instant gratification, Homer becomes obsessed with the app. He begins calling Chore Monkeys like crazy, having them do absolutely everything for him, while he basically lives like a king.

As you could probably guess, Marge isn’t a fan of this whole situation, and she tries to argue with Homer. Luckily though, he’s found a former hostage-negotiator on the app, and the dude is able to deescalate the fight, and get Marge to accept the app. Which just encourages Homer to go even further with it. Because now he’s found he can hire people to come and do his parenting for him.

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Homer finds some former football player on the app, and has the guy come and toss the ball around with Bart, giving him some “quality father-son time.” But, this backfires when Bart starts to have a blast with the football player, and Homer starts to feel inadequate about his own football skills. He does try to hire some random kid to come teach him how to throw footballs better, but that ends with Homer getting blacklisted from the app because he’s so mean to the kid.

We’re then given an extremely weird moment that for the longest time is going to feel completely pointless. We cut over to the Van Houten house, where Kirk is busy hastily assembling a wall of brick in the drive-way, with the intention of causing them to purposefully crash on him so that Milhouse can film it and get them on America’s Funniest Home Videos. But, Milhouse thinks that the whole experiment lacks authenticity, and leaves Kirk, who is then hit by Luanne driving a car. What does this have to do with the plot? Not really anything.

But we’re not done with random non-sequiturs, because after that we follow Homer as he heads to the Retirement Castle to complain to Abe that Bart doesn’t like hanging out with him anymore. Abe doesn’t really care about that though, because he has bigger fish to fry. Apparently, the Castle just got internet, and now all of the old folks are using online dating to have casual sex. And, Abe’s girlfriend is now apparently pregnant, and he has no idea what to do. Abe is thinking about fleeing town, but when the woman shows up he decides that he needs to do the right thing and stay with her. Seems like a pretty big plot, right? Well, apparently not, because that’s really all there is to it.

Anyway! Bart is still hanging out with that football player, having a great time and ignoring Milhouse because he has someone cool to hang out with. Which is when Bart realizes that part of Homer’s original Chore Monkey request was that this guy pretend to like Bart, and let him win. And, with that knowledge, Bart loses interest, and stops hanging out with the guy. He goes to find Milhouse, but discovers something horrible.

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Homer and Milhouse ended up running into each other after they were both spurned by Bart, and because Milhouse is so desperate for attention he and Homer end up hanging out and doing father/son stuff together. Bart finds them hanging out, and is furious. The episode then becomes a weird analogy for an affair, with Homer growing increasingly bored with his relationship with Bart, while Bart is angry that Homer is two-timing him.

Oh, and around here we do get a little bit of closure with the whole Grandpa thing. He and Marge are walking around a lake, talking about how scared Abe is to become a father again, and Marge ends up convincing him that he has what it takes to try it one more time. So, Abe decides to do the right thing, and goes to propose to the lady. Unfortunatley when he gets there he finds that while she is indeed pregnant, it’s actually with Jasper’s baby. So, he’s off the hook and gets to head back to his normal life.

While all of this is going on we see that Bart has finally gotten fed up with Homer, and has decided to one-up him. So, Bart goes to befriend Kirk van Houten. Marge tries to stop all this, saying that it’s very weird, but Homer only cares that he finally has a kid who respects him. And this confrontation comes to a head when all four run into each other at Itchy and Scratchy Land. It’s very awkward, and they end up having a race around a go-kart track to see who the best fake family is. However, this ends with Bart careening out of a kart, and smashing his head on a stop sign, causing everyone to realize how silly this is. Everyone forgives each other, and they all go back to normal.

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This episode is incredibly strange. I feel like it had some decent ideas, but it was just extremely disjointed. I like the idea of Homer learning about an app that basically makes people his servants, and then using that to outsource his parenting. I even kind of like the idea of Grandpa accidentally getting a girlfriend pregnant. But the rest of the this episode just felt like things we’ve seen before. We’ve already seen Bart and Homer’s relationship getting weird and treated like they’re having an affair. That’s been done several times, and much better. The Grandpa story is weird as hell, and it’s so truncated and separated from the main story that it just remains a fun concept and not a good story. It really just feels like there were too many ideas for this episode, but none of them got fleshed out properly, creating a somewhat disorientating episode that was just kind of hard to follow, and even when it was all making sense it was nothing we hadn’t seen before.

Take Away: Don’t flake on raising your children.

 

“Dad Behavior” was written by Ryan Koh and directed by Steven Dean Moore, 2016.

 

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