Lifetime of Simpsons

S30 E13 – I’m Dancing as Fat as I Can

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Well, another mini-hiatus is over, and it’s time to talk about the Simpsons again. And, if you’ve heard the news, we’ll be talking about this show for at least two more years, because the show has been renewed to Season 32, because what I once thought would be a fun little thing to do has become a Sisyphean task that will never end. Goodie! And, as if to taunt me, let’s talk about an episode where Homer and Marge’s marriage is on the rocks for trivial reasons!

The episode begins with Homer getting a call at 2 a.m. from Bart. He’s begging for Homer to come rescue him from a sleepover at Milhouse’s that has gone awry, leading to Bart reading Milhouse Dr. Seuss bedtime stories. Homer couldn’t give less of a shit about this though, and just hangs up. So, when the phone rings again, Marge decides to give it a shot, figuring it’ll be her turn to tell Bart to suck it up.

But, that’s not the case. This is a call informing Marge that her aunt Eunice is dying, and she’s going to have to pack up and has to fly out in the morning to be with her. She explains all of this to Homer, and he becomes thrilled when he realizes that Marge isn’t going to expect him to come with her. So, when morning finally does arrive Marge starts giving Homer a list of things to do and not to do while she’s gone, letting him be in charge for the weekend. All of which seems pretty easy to handle.

Except one thing. Apparently Homer and Marge have become obsessed with a Netflix show called Odder Stuff, and the new season has just dropped. Marge loves binging the show with Homer, and has asked him to promise not to watch any of the show without her. And, while it pains Homer to do so, he agrees to be good. Marge then heads out to visit Eunice with Patty and Selma, stopping them from just looting everything.

Meanwhile, Homer is doing his best to do a good job, teaching Maggie how to eat books and whatnot, when he hears the Odder Stuff theme song coming from downstairs. He races downstairs and finds that Bart and Lisa have started watching the show, having not promised Marge to not watch it. Homer scolds them, but keeps strong, promising not to watch any of it. Which gets even harder when he goes to work, because apparently everyone at the Plant has already watched it, and are eager to talk about it. But, he remains strong!

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And, it’s not just Homer who is having to deal with Odder Stuff woes. Because it turns out that Krusty’s ratings have plummeted thanks to all these damn Millenials streaming things, and he’s looking for a way to boost viewership. And, one of the writers on his show has an idea straight out of the early nineties. They’re going to hold a contest where three lucky winners get to run through a Krusty Store, like the Nikelodeon Super Toy Run, hoping to get as many toys as possible.

But, that’s going to percolate for a while, for now it’s time to go watch Homer’s will shatter like glass. He’s up one night, browsing Netflix, and realizing that all of the 80’s sitcoms have real-life predators and monsters now. And, he thinks about giving up on his promise, and is nudged along by the surprise guest star, the floating head of Ted Sarandos, the chief content officer of Netflix. Sarandos tells Homer that he should just give in and watch the show, because chaos needs to reign.

So, Homer decides to just go for it, and watches all of Odder Stuff in one go, spending the whole night watching TV. And, right as he finishes up, Marge comes home! Eunice apparently recovered, and she was able to get back as soon as possible, which lets her realize that Homer has betrayed her. And, she’s furious. Marge yells at Homer, and makes it clear that she’s not going to be forgiving him any time soon.

Oh, and we also set up the idea that Bart wants to win the toy race contest thing, but doesn’t want to write up the short essay required to enter into the contest. So, he just steals an idea from Lisa, even though she warns him about the bad karma of cheating. That’s it for now though.

Anyway, Homer starts to have nightmares about Odder Stuff and his marriage because he’s so worried that Marge is going to leave him over a television show. He even seeks out some help from Reverend Lovejoy after Lisa admits to him it’s a little inappropriate to get marriage advice from his eight year old daughter. But, Lovejoy is too busy talking about other streaming shows, so Homer gets no help.

Luckily, the head of Ted Sarandos is back, willing to give Homer some insight into Marge’s mind through data mining! He tells Homer that Marge loves watching dancing shows, so if he learns to dance he’ll win her back. And, as it so happens, Springfield has an all-night dance studio full of men trying to secretly learn how to dance to win their wives back. Everything’s coming up Homer!

 

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Homer begins coming to the dance studio every night, working with the two instructors who realize that Homer is a terrible dancer, and make it a personal challenge. And, slowly but surely, he starts to figure it out. Homer starts to become a good dancer, while Marge starts to notice that he’s sneaking out every night, and assumes that something nefarious is going on. Especially when she calls Moe’s one night, and Moe fails to keep up the lie that that’s where Homer is.

Before we see how that pans out though, we need to get the half-baked B-Plot taken care of. Bart has gotten into the Toy Trample, along with Ralph and Milhouse, and is ready to keep cheating to success. He releases a butterfly to distract Ralph and fogs up Milhouse’s glasses so that he can get a head start, racing through the store and getting as many toys as possible. However, right as he’s about to win he and Milhouse crash into a bunch of slime, letting Ralph win. So, Bart learned from his cheating hubris. I guess? I don’t know, this plot should have been cut out.

Anyway, Homer calls Marge one day, telling her that he’s laid out a dress on their bed, and wants her to put it on and meet him at an address that night. She’s suspicious, but decides to go through with it anyway, finding herself at a ballroom. And, it’s weird. Homer has apparently rented this place out in order to host some sort of prom for all the adults in Springfield to be his perfect demonstration of his new dancing abilities. He then starts dancing with Marge, leading and making the two of them look amazing, rekindling their romance and making up for all of the aggression caused by binge watching television. Episode over!

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This episode is fine, I guess. I’ve been really on the record as not being a fan of episodes like this, that throw Homer and Marge’s marriage into jeopardy for relatively minor reasons and then cleaning things up in the last few minutes of the episode, not getting any sort of real resolution. But, compared to other episodes of this ilk, it’s not a terrible version of it. The idea that Marge would get this mad about Homer watching a show without her is simultaneously ridiculous, and incredibly realistic, actually feeling like the sort of little things that can make a couple pissed at each other. But, the decision for Homer to secretly take dance lessons was kind of a weird call, and one that I actually appreciated. I would have expected something absurd, like Homer got them on the dance shows that Marge love, cramming in a whole new story in the last act. But, this felt a little more logical, which was nice. What wasn’t nice though was that weird B-Plot, which felt completely superfluous, and honestly could have made the episode run a little smoother if it had been excised, giving more time for the main plot to breathe. But, as it stands, it’s just a fine episode. Which, sadly, makes it pretty stellar compared to the rest of the season.

 

“I’m Dancing As Fat As I Can” was written by Jane Becker and directed by Matthew Nastuk, 2019.

 

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