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TV Diary | The Simpsons – “Politically Inept, With Homer Simpson”

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TV Diary | The Simpsons – Episode 23.10 – “Politically Inept, With Homer Simpson” – Original Airdate: 1/8/12

Episode Grade: B-

Timed nicely to coincide with the beginning of Republican primary season, “Politically Inept, With Homer Simpson” finds a viral Homer video somehow leading to his installation as a Glenn Beck-esque political talking head/clown on a cable news network. Structured as most Simpsons episodes are, the opening section is barely connected to the rest of the plot – though this one is more related than most – and sees the family heading out on a trip leaving Springfield Airport [1] before Homer flips out and needs to be subdued by an air marshal [2]. Because Bart is Bart, he films Homer being chased and then beaten down – “I REGRET NOTHING… except this part.” – and the video of Homer’s escapade gains no small amount of notoriety, leading to his being booked on cable news show Head Butt With Nash Castor [3]. After his rant on the program impresses network execs, Homer’s given his own show on the network [4] and morphs into a Glenn Beck parody complete with insane theories, rants about football being replaced by soccer, blackboards, and crying jags. Of course this leads to Homer becoming a Republican hero by starting the Tea Party… er… Gravy Boat Movement thus giving him enough power to select 70s rocker Ted Nugent as the Republican presidential nominee, only to have Lisa ultimately teach him a lesson about civic responsibility via a James Madison lookalike [5]. While some of the political satire was on point, I couldn’t help but feel that this episode is something that would have played much better, say, a year ago when Beck’s show was actually on the air and when some people [6] actually took the Tea Party seriously, but such are the difficulties of being an animated show with a huge post-production lag. Still, cable news is always ripe for a takedown, Homer as Beck showed the terrifying amounts of power that crackpots like that possess in today’s society, and Nugent – crazy person that he is – was a pretty good sport in allowing himself to be portrayed like he was. While this was one of season 23’s weaker episodes it’s actually a statement on the quality of this year as a whole that an episode that was as strong as “Politically Inept, With Homer Simpson” was at times is one of the lower-rung outings of the year.

[1] The sign outside the airport reads, “Springfield Airport – Built For The Olympics We Never Got.”
[2] Who looks not unlike Barney Fife.
[3] While The AV Club’s Hayden Childs surmises that the show is based on Chris Matthews’ Hardball in his review, I can’t help but wonder if Castor making out with his Arianna Huffington-esque co-host is a nod towards another MSNBC program, Morning Joe.
[4] He also writes a best-selling book – America: Love It Or I’ll Punch You.
[5] Don’t ask.
[6] Certainly not me, but I think some people actually did. Somewhere.

Miscellany:
*As a die-hard Phillies fan and avowed Yankees-hater, I got a kick out of Lisa cautioning Homer about his Gravy Boat movement by talking about symbols riling people up, only to have her mention the swastika and New York Yankees logo.
*”Marge, do we really need all of these feminine products?” “That’s toothpaste!” “But I never use that.”
*”Now if I fart, it’s because I’m so relaxed.”
*”What gave me away?” “The hot dogs spin counterclockwise in fear whenever you’re around, sir.”
*”Is that a little weird how much he cries?” “No, when there’s a guy who loves America like that it makes him super-straight.”
*”I’m doing a character like Stephen Colbert, or Newt Gingrich.”
*”Now they’re all excellent choices, so just pick the white male you like best and we’ll elect him.”
*”What is this? Some kind of bicentennial lemon party?”
*My response to that last line was something like, “Holy shit! They actually let that in?!” If you don’t know what a “lemon party” is, you do now.
*Episode below courtesy of Hulu.

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