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  •  The Darkest Episode Of "The Simpsons" Ever? (14+ / 0-)

    When you say the name Homer J. Simpson, most people familiar with "The Simpsons" would probably think not smart but a good natured everyman.

    But is that true?

    The 23rd episode of the eighth season is titled "Homer's Enemy," and is something of a a deconstruction of both Homer & the show's general tendency to teach life lessons that reward the family's epiphanies, even though by the next episode the characters haven't really learned a damn thing.

    In "Homer's Enemy," the show introduces the character of Frank Grimes, who's had to struggle fight for everything he has & contrasts it to Homer, who is lazy, incompetent, and a jerk a lot of the time.


    From the A.V. Club:

    We all know someone who embodies some facet of Homer, but for a brief period (or maybe it’s not so brief—the time element is something The Simpsons never pays much attention to), Frank Grimes has to work in the office adjacent to the actual Homer. He has to stand idly by while an oafish co-worker stumbles his way to the middle, a broad mockery of the American tolerance of mediocrity... For that reason, “Homer’s Enemy” stands as more than a mere exercise in TV meta-commentary.

    It’s a pitch-black comic meditation on why bad things happen to good people: Frank Grimes, by all measures an upstanding citizen of Springfield who overcomes adversity after adversity, is ultimately driven mad by what he perceives as Homer’s charmed life... The first half of the episode asks the viewer to reconsider Homer Simpson as a person: Is he really all that likeable if he’s constantly endangering the lives of everyone around him? How can we relate to someone who does his job poorly yet faces no apparent risk of being fired? How can we even care about a man who, by Lenny’s count, has cheated death 316 times?

    The answer, as provided by the remainder of “Homer’s Enemy”: It doesn’t matter, because we’re not talking about a human being. We’re talking about a cartoon character, a collection of well-defined traits and qualities that are nonetheless flexible enough to generate hundreds of hours of television content. Homer is Teflon around the workplace because even when he, say, gives up the power-plant gig to plow driveways for a living, he needs to be back in the safety-inspector’s chair the following week. Frank Grimes, by contrast, is more akin to an inhabitant of our world, someone who expects social Darwinism to sweep the Homer Simpsons into history’s dustbin so that the brave souls who survived silo explosions can rise to the top. So insistent on meritocracy is Frank Grimes that he dies trying to reinforce it.

    The counter-argument to the "Homer revealed as Jerk" interpretation of the episode is that Frank Grimes is the real jerk and it's his fatal flaw. Homer is incompetent and lazy, but unlike Grimes he doesn't look down his nose at other people.

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