Lifetime of Simpsons

S29 E13 – “3 Scenes Plus a Tag from a Marriage”

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Howdy everyone, and welcome back to another installment of the new and weird era of Lifetime of Simpsons. And we get a really weird and unfocused flashback episode that drives me insane because it mucks around with the timeline in a way that I’m sure most people don’t mind but I certainly do! Fun! Oh, and we get yet another strange Bill Plimpton opening, this time a parody of his short “Faces,” but with Homer. As per usual, it’s weird but well-made.

The episode itself starts off with the Simpsons at a movie theater, having just finished watching what sounds like an Avengers movie. Which means it’s time for some griping about post-credits sequences and the kids today! It’s pretty hackneyed, but there is a funny bit where they find out that the true mastermind behind all of the evil of the movie was Uncle Ben, who is alive and ruling Hell. Less funny was Nick Fury being recruited by a guy with two eye-patches to join a team to team assemblers.

After all of that though, and a cranky diatribe from Homer, the family leave the theater, pile into their car, and start driving home. However, for some reason they went to Capital City to watch the movie, and as they’re driving home they get stuck in terrible traffic thanks to a baseball game letting out. Homer doesn’t want to deal with traffic though, and takes a “shortcut” that ends up spitting them deeper into Capital City.

They quickly get lost, but Marge eventually realizes that she recognizes the neighborhood. It’s the part of town that she and Homer lived in when they were first married! Back then it was a really sketchy part of town, but it’s now been gentrified and is hipsterville. Homer and Marge end up getting really nostalgic, and when they come across the crappy apartment building they lived in they decided to do something that seems incredibly strange to an introvert like myself.

They go talk to the current inhabitants of the apartment! It’s now rented out by a hipster couple who have recently gotten married, and for whatever reason they welcome in this family and start encouraging them to tell them stories. Because they’re psychotic, I guess. And, while reminiscing about how great life was when they were a dual-income family with no kids, they end up launching themselves into a full-blown flashback.

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I guess this is now taking place in the early nineties, and it’s in a weird time period where Homer didn’t get Marge pregnant straight out of highschool, and they now had a period of time together where they lived as fun-loving young adults. I guess that’s the timeline now. And, things seem pretty good.

Marge works at the Springfield Shopper running some sort of gossip column and Homer has a job at a start-up that sells teeth-whitening strips. They’re both making some pretty good money, and are enjoying life, hanging out with their friends, a bunch of off-model townsfolk, which is always good for a laugh or two. They spend their time going to roller rinks, midnight movies, fancy restaurants, and randomly driving out to the desert to watch meteor showers. It seems nice.

Then Bart was born and their life became a grim drudgery of misery and lack of sleep. They paint a pretty bleak picture of the time immediately following the birth of your first child, and Homer and Marge really make it clear that they miss the time when they got to be young and selfish. Which kind of offends Bart and Lisa in the present.

But Homer and Marge don’t back down. Instead they start doubling down, telling the kids about how much Bart ruined their lives. They explain that they were the first of their friends to have a kid, which quickly ostracized them from the group since they were no longer fun. And it didn’t just ruin their social life, it also ruined their careers.

Homer lost his job at the start-up because the guy who ran it was apparently a lunatic, and he was personally offended that Homer would dare have a kid. Marge also ran into issue with her editor, who is just straight up J Jonah Jameson, when she stopped writing about night-life and started writing about kids all the time. He gave her one last chance to write about an art-gallery opening, but Homer ended up bringing Bart, and he ruined it all, costing Marge her job.

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Things were pretty bleak for Homer and Marge at that point in their marriage, so they decide to the desperate thing, and they go ask Reverend Lovejoy for advice. And, as usual, he doesn’t have much. He makes them watch a weird video that explains that all only children are monsters, and the only way to fix them and bring happiness to a marriage is to introduce a second child into the mix.

So, Homer and Marge got to work having a second kid, and Lisa came along .And, lo and behold, it did nothing to fix Bart’s temper, or their life. But they just went with it at this point, and became the family that we know today. And that news was a little distressing for the hipsters. Homer and Marge’s story about dysfunction and unhappiness has convinced them that they should divorce instead of following down the same path.

Homer and Marge feel bad about this, and do manage to convince them to stick together, but the family is then promptly kicked out of the apartment. They then drive home while joking about the fact that they’ve now mined all possible flashbacks and origin stories. Oh, and Homer and Marge promise each other to get out of the rut they’re apparently in.

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This episode didn’t do a whole lot for me. In fact, it kind of bugged me. Yeah, I can complain again and again about how the sliding timeline bothers me, and the fact that they’ve now added whole years of Homer and Marge’s relationship in between graduating high school and having Bart, but honestly that stuff wasn’t what bugged me the most. It was the idea that Homer and Marge’s life was completely ruined by their kids. This episode portrays them as a happy couple whose lives were made terrible by the introduction of Bart, when in the past they’ve been established as a couple who were certainly in love, but who were cemented together by Bart, and have since worked hard to make that marriage work. This episode kind of takes all of that and tosses it out, instead having us believe that Homer and Marge are constantly bitter about the fact that Bart and Lisa have ruined their lives. Which is a huge bummer. There’re some good gags in the episode, and I always appreciate seeing goofy designs for townsfolk when we go back in time, but overall it’s just kind of a dud of an episode for me. Although, I’m always here for the fact that the Springfield Shopper is edited by J Jonah Jameson. That rules.

 

Take Away: Apparently having kids is the worst thing that can possibly happen to your life.

 

“3 Scenes Plus a Tag from a Marriage” was written by Tom Gammill and Max Pross and directed by Matthew Nastuk, 2018.

 

 

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