This The Simpsons review contains spoilers.
The Simpsons: Season 27 Episode 14.
If John Sayles directed O Brother Where Are Thou, it might have looked nothing like The Simpsons’s “Gal of Constant Sorrow.” The Simpsons continue their tradition of finding country talent in the most unlikely places. Homer found Lurleen Lumpkin in a redneck bar on the wrong side of the tracks in “Colonel Homer” and managed her career straight into three straight rehab tours. This time Lisa gets her heart broke by a hobo Appalachian warbler. But this isn’t a Coal Miner’s daughter, Hettie Boggs is the baby of the famous folk singing Boggs family. While Hettie might be able to make musical diamonds from coal, she prefers tar.
Homer prefers spackle and grout. He’s never been the handiest of men in the best of days, but he actually has more of a checkered history when it comes to playing with his tools. While his bird bath might have looked like modern art, his modern art looked quite comfortable. He might not be able to put together a bicycle that can stay together more than three blocks, but he wasn’t that bad when he put together the roller derby stock car or the competitive killer robot that is spared by Professor Frink’s humane killing machine.
Tool belts are quite an aphrodisiac. Lois appreciated Hal’s leather when he went on an abstinence-induced home improvement binge and Marge already showed her particular fetish for a brawny man in a Mr. Plow jacket. Homer is a fair non-general-contractor. His problem is that he’s not very observant. It’s not a knock on his construction capabilities that the cat and dog get stuck in the walls. They are a consistent death trap. Bart’s gotten stuck in the walls a few times and Marge has to use the broom to get him out. She’s just letting Homer tear apart the house looking for the pets so she can get Mr. Plowed.
Beneath every tile is a potential disaster and the bit about the YouTube construction guru playing loud music so the DIYer can curse is something every person who has ever lost a weekend ripping up a floor after finding a few loose bathroom tiles can identify with. Homer is the everyman, a true American hero. He wants what we all want, a bacon apology sandwich.
The best bit of the night had to be when Homer, who speaks fluent drunk, convinces Hattie not to shoot his face off. I don’t want to give too much away, but she assures that Reverend Lovejoy would never sound better. I love it when the writers turn things over to Dan Castellenata to just go nuts. He’s lived in Homer’s yellow skin so long he can take any gag to absurd finality. There have been times when his seeming improvisations over closing songs have been funnier than whole seasons of other shows.
Tonight’s episode belonged to the music. Bart destroyed Hettie’s life when he lost control of his sled and it took her shopping cart for a glide on some thin ice. Hattie kept her whole life in that shopping cart. She even had a housewarming sing that read “Home is where the cart is.” Sure, it had that one wheel that never wanted to go where the other wheels were going, but that cart was her best and only friend. As she sang in her introductory song, that cart was her “Home and place of worship” and kind of her car.
The lyrical content was very funny but also quite deep. They gave a full description of a world of restricted bathroom policies and found candy nutritional treasures that blended satire with a sad life experience. You can’t even really blame Hattie for shooting off the faces of her parents while she was itching for sugar. She was only jonesing.
It’s no wonder Lisa gets her heart broken so easily. She really wants the chance to make someone’s life a little better and she really believes it will be paid forward. She’s only in third grade and she hasn’t had her soul ripped from her body in Mrs. Ortner’s third grade marching band with stupid looking tuba players and trombonists who believe the instrument gives them comedic powers. In past episodes Lisa tried to bring appreciation for Springfield’s local jazz legend Bleeding Gums Murphy. She believes in music like it has healing powers and she’d bet NPR’s entire pledge promises that if people heard what she heard it would change the world.
“Gal of Constant Sorrow” was evenly paced and the jokes landed with only minor abrasions. The heroin revelation was a surprise punch line that tapped a bittersweet vein. Not a classic episode, but not one to be easily dismissed. Again, the lyrics are worth it, there are great lines over those melodies.
“Gal of Constant Sorrow” was written by Carolyn Omine and directed by Matthew Nastuk. The Simpsons stars Dan Castellaneta as Homer Simpson, Julie Kavner as Marge Simpson, Nancy Cartwright as Bart Simpson and Nelson, Yeardley Smith as Lisa Simpson. Hank Azaria plays Apu Nahasapeemapetilon and Chief Wiggum. Harry Shearer is Mr. Burns. Pamela Hayden plays Millhouse and Jimbo Jones. Guest voice: Kate McKinnon as Hettie, Natalie Maines as Hettie (singing) and Bob Boilen as himself. Kelsey Grammer plays Sideshow Bob.
But It All Went By So Fast: MyTube Replacing Floor Tile, Hammer Time. Home is where the Cart is. Party trumpet. Bike tassels. 2 stamps. Corncob holders. Comb assortment. Drake’s “Started From The Bottom.” Triple mint. Krusty Koffee. Let us take your selfie. Guess your prejudice. It’s a Wonderful Knife. Just Rainsticks. Good man seeks good job. Don’t tell my current employer. Mattresses 70% off. Burning juggler goes on fire. Skobo’s restaurant. Dim Willie’s.
Snug and the Cousin Huggers. Lead Paint Larry and the Drooly Boys. Howlin Sue and Her Vestigial Organ. Bloody Mary and the Coalmine Canaries.
Band Camp We Need Piccolos. Feeling Flat? B sharp.
Krusty Brand No kidding condoms. Dentist in a box. Krusty Brand Cigarettes. Flammable pajamas. Reserved for LGBT Dolls.
Gross Air with Terry Fresh. Pledge time with semi-celebrities. Left Left Left and middle. Ira Glass.
In ‘N’ Out Rehab. We cost less because we don’t work too well.