Lifetime of Simpsons

S29 E16 – King Leer

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Hi there everyone. We survived a rather unpleasant episode last week, and have been rewarded with a solid week of most everyone involved with the Simpsons digging themselves an even bigger hole. Oh well. It sucks that they aren’t open to feedback from their viewers, but there’s nothing we can do about it, I guess. Which isn’t exactly putting me in a great mood to discuss a lackluster Moe episode with you all.

The episode starts off with Mr. Largo hosting a special event where the kids of Springfield Elementary and their parents are discussing musical instruments. Marge thinks that Lisa has had great success with her saxophone, and now she’s decided that Bart needs to replicate it. However, she’s running into a bit of a problem. Well, two problems I guess. First, Bart’s ambivalence, and second, her worrying that Bart will find a way to use the instruments to prank people.

She shoots down the trombone because he could hit people with the slide and the clarinet because he could turn it into a flamethrower. But she settles on a violin, even though he could turn it into a bow and arrow, and signs him up for it. However, Homer quickly picks up on the fact that Bart is now the guardian of a very expensive instrument that he’ll have to pay for if it gets damaged.

And it was a serious mistake for Homer to make that fear known, because now Bart has a perfect tool to harass Homer. He begins playing around with the violin, coming close to destroying it multiple times a day while Homer does his best to save the thing. However, after Homer drops a beer to save the violin he snaps, and ends up smashing the instrument to pieces so he won’t have to worry about it anymore.

Homer then runs off to Moe’s to celebrate his victory over music. But, when he gets there he finds Moe in an even worse mood than normal. And things just get worse when Moe gets a call that appears to be a from a prank caller. He screams at the caller and slams the phone down. The guys ask what’s going on, but Moe loses his mind and scares them off, refusing to talk to them about whoever just called him.

Homer shambles out of the bar after Moe’s tantrum, but finds that he’s too drunk in order to start the breathalyzer in his car. He tries to get a dog to activate the car, but that doesn’t work. So, he calls Marge to come pick him up. But, when Homer gets in the car the two of them notice Moe locking up and wandering off, still clearly furious. The two are interested in what could be making Moe so mad, and they decide to follow him.

Moe ends up going to some random warehouse, and Homer and Marge follow him inside, only to find him beating up some random old guy. They break up the fight and learn that this man is Morty Szylack, Moe’s estranged father. Moe and his father clearly hate each other, and Moe decides he doesn’t want to be around him anymore, so Homer and Marge take Moe back to the bar to talk to him.

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Moe then explains what’s going on. Apparently he’s from a long line of mattress sellers, which he finds a thoroughly despicable profession. His father owned a series of successful mattress shops called Mattress King, and Moe grew up with a little brother and sister as the heir of the empire. However, Moe eventually learned that his father’s key to success was putting bedbugs in competitor’s beds. Moe refused to degrade himself and sabotage another family’s business, only to have the other mattress folk put bedbugs in Morty’s beds. This almost destroyed the family business, and Moe was banished from the family.

Morty had called Moe to try and meet up and have a civil discussion, but it quickly became a fight, which is when Homer and Marge showed up. Marge is horrified that Moe is estranged from his family, and encourages him to reach out and reconnect. Well, actually, the episode keeps saying “reach around” to family members, and I have no idea why. Was it a mistake, or a really weird sex joke that never made sense? I don’t know, but it was really strange and annoying.

Anyway, Marge wants Moe to meet with his family, and ends up going with him to a Mattess King store to talk to Morty. And Morty is not pleased to see him. Neither are Moe’s siblings, Minnie and Marv. But, Marge is able to convince them all to come to a reconciliation dinner. And it does not go well! The Szylacks almost immediately get into a massive fight, making it clear that they’ll never get along.

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Until Marge has a good idea. She plays an old Mattress King commercial, where they were a happy family, and it’s able to melt their cold hearts. The Szylack’s decide to forgive each other, and Morty finally tells them why he reached out to Moe. He’s apparently retiring, and he wants to give one of his stores to each of his children, Moe included.

Moe is thrilled about this, and eagerly prepares to open his new store. He has a massive grand opening, and for some reason everyone in town comes to look at mattresses. They even premiere a new commercial that Moe, Minnie, and Marv did to signify their new collaboration. But, it turns out, it’s a scam. Marv and Minnie have editing the commercial to imply that Moe’s mattress all once held dead people.

Moe’s store is then an immediate failure, and Moe is ashamed, especially because he thinks he’ll be a failure in his father’s eyes. Marge is also really worried, because she thinks that this is all her fault. So, after seeing a quickly escalating war between Moe and his siblings, she decides to try and fix things. And she does it by talking to Morty.

He really couldn’t care less about his children fighting, until he sees that to one up each other they’ve started a promotion that offers free mattresses, which he cannot abide. So, Morty storms off to the family mattress warehouse to yell at his children. And, when he gets there, he finds that things have gotten weird. Moe has a bunch of bedbugs and is ready to destroy their entire livelihood. And, for some reason Morty is down with it. He’s impressed by Moe’s villainy. But, Moe can’t bring himself to do it, and he tries to be a good person. But, in the process he drops the bedbugs, and they still infect the mattresses.

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This episode is really strange. Moe episodes can often be really odd, because they try to give humanity to a character that is at all other times portrayed to be utterly repugnant. And this episode really runs into that problem. We get the reveal that Moe comes from a broken home, and that he’s the black sheep of his family, which I guess is something that I always had assumed. I do enjoy how unpleasant the Szylack’s are, to a person, but it eventually reaches the point where we’re supposed to forgive the fact that Moe is a creep because his family are also creeps. And that’s weird. I liked the whole war of the siblings, but the episode then just peters out, ending on a weird gag that doesn’t end up accomplishing anything narrativly. They introduce a bunch of stakes to the episode, with Moe trying to gain the respect of his family, and it just gets brushed aside for a last gag with them all getting attacked by bed bugs. It’s not a terrible episode, and it doesn’t have anything nearly has problematic and infuriating as last week, it’s just kind of a bland episode that never went anywhere.

 

Take Away: If you family members are toxic to your life, you can cut them out. You don’t actually owe them very much.

 

“King Leer” was written by Daniel Furlong and Zach Posner and directed by Chris Clements, 2018.

 

 

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