I have to confess, I’m not what you’d call a Simpsons-regular anymore. So I didn’t care much when Matt Groening recently revealed that the real Springfield is in fact based on Springfield, Oregon. The actual location of Homer Simpson’s hometown was one of TV’s biggest mysteries, with Simpsons fans always making a huge fuss of it, as they did with the Dallas-spoofing ‘Who Shot Mr. Burns?’ episode (it was Maggie) and the question of what Maggie’s first word would be (it’s “Daddy” spoken by Elizabeth Taylor).
There are similar levels of fanaticism when it comes to the show’s extraordinary opening sequences. Of course I watched the episode MoneyBART in which street artist Banksy was responsible for the one-and-a-half minute intro and used the opportunity to point out the seemingly torturous conditions under which cartoonists in Asia are forced to work so we can enjoy the show and buy the merchandise. No doubt it had a few great moments (the panda bear, the cats that are turned into stuffing, and the dying unicorn), but the message itself was far too “we-are-so-rad-even-though-we-are-on-FOX-we-can-do-whatever-we-want-and-aren’t-even-afraid-of- criticizing-our-own-show.” There are countless other opening scenes worth picking out, like the one just recently done by animator Bill Plymouth, and another referencing the opening sequence of Game of Thrones, but I’m saving these to be part of another TV Guide due in the beginning of June. For now, I want to focus on last weeks’ episode, which is so awesome I felt very bad about renouncing my faith in the Simpsons a few years ago. From this point on, I will never doubt the four-fingered-family nor it’s creator, Matt Groening.
A Total Fun Thing That Bart Will Never Do Again is so full of clever references, pop culture and worldly wisdom I immediately had to watch it again. The couch gag is very quick and reminded me of the works of Marlene McCarty, but without the political aspects. What followed was even greater: a montage of Bart’s daily sufferings using split-screen and featuring Hot Chip’s ‘Boy From School’, that ends with him sitting on the couch next to Maggie. The youngest member of the family offers her pacifier to ease Bart’s pain, to which he can only answer: “Sorry kid, but there comes a day where that just doesn’t do it any more” resulting in Maggie sucking her pacifier furiously, trying to extract as much comfort from it while she’s still able.
Apparently the episode is an homage to the David Foster Wallace essay A Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again about a one week cruise trip, but how could I have known?
I don’t want to give away too much, and you should watch the whole episode anyway, but one scene near the end features a word of advice by life-coach Homer Simpson accompanied by Animal Collective’s ‘Winter’s Love’. Go and see it for yourself.
Published May 10, 2012.