SPOILER ALERT: The big reveal tonight is that Grandpa used to work with turtles. Yes, that was the point.
In The Simpsons’ “Let’s Go Fly a Coot,” the greatest generation treats the worst generation the way they treated POWs in World War II when the Red Cross wasn’t looking or an editor treatdc Jack Kerouac first novel which they weren’t reading, with a modicum of grudging disrespect. They also go after whatever generation the ageless Bart and Lisa represent with whatever dangers they may or may not face with vaping.
I wish this episode went further with the “Destroy All Birthdays” theme. I knew they were going to veer away from it, but I was anticipating a little Destroy All Monsters action. The headlines declared “Another Bad Birthday.” Dr. Hubbard pronounced Nelson’s party dead from rice cake piñatas. Its potential for a full arc became clear when they pulled in the Ned Beatty bit from Network. The Simpsons have rendered some classic movie spoofs in their 26 years of satire. I was excited as soon as I heard the line “you have meddled with the primal forces of nurture.” But for all the fire and brimstone intensity it turned out to be merely tepid.
Kids birthdays are a racket and Homer is absolutely right. As far as I’m concerned he responded correctly: Storm and deflate the bouncy castles of competitive parenting, it’s just a cover for neglect the rest of the year anyway. At least we know the spoiled and ungrateful kids will graduate Yale someday and then have to jump out of giant birthday cakes themselves for all the good it does them. They would have had just as much fun sticking pins in a donkey’s butt. Homer channels freaking Lewis Black in his freaking rant.
Bart being in love with a Milhouse-lookalike cousin is reminiscent of George Costanza falling in love with a Jerry lookalike on Seinfeld. We know it was the wiggly eyebrows that caught Bart as much as the heady vapors of her poison penlights.
The Simpsons did some self-referential spoofing: Finally giving Bart and Lisa an excuse to remain at their current age after 26 years of stunted growth; Grandpa having been in all forces of the service, even the WACS, if I remember correctly.
I am so glad Homer rattled off the list of dystopian movies. Dystopia used to be fun in the utopian past when they dotted a vapid wasteland of movies, now they are the majority of cookie-cutter celulloid. I’m beginning to look forward to a dystopian future where these movies will be nostalgia. I wonder if this Exhaustibles segment will fit into the ongoing McBain movie. Is it a sequel?
This episode presented a bit of a moral rubber band theme. On the one side, we get a lecture about e-cigarettes and Netherlandian superiority. (Why are they called Dutch anyway? It’s kind of like Ralph Fiennes pronouncing his name Raif. People from Africa are called Africans, Italy – Italians, Ireland, Lapland, etc. Are jokes about Lichtenstein considered racist in the Netherlands?) They remind the audience how soft it’s become and remind Lisa that at the heart of every male celebration of the feminine lies an even deeper sexism.
On the other side, The Simpsons are playing incest like a family game. They’ve teased about Rod and Todd before, but the references used to be fewer and further between and also had sprinkles of gay curiosity. This is two weeks in a row that The Simpsons did incest jokes and there were two tonight: Rod wanting to grow upa and marry daddy and the Van Houten family shrubbery. I don’t have a problem with it, just pointing it out. But I think at the heart of it, the writers are trying to keep up with South Park, or get down with Family Guy.
I only say this at gunpoint, but I didn’t love this episode. It had some laughs and taught some lessons and we’re all the less for having seen it, but it had a dull edge in spite of some fresh ideas. Of course, Milhouse’s Dutch cousin would like that there were new things to complain about.
The “ssh” lady after the credits should have been vaping, I’m just saying.
“Let’s Go Fly a Coot” was written by Jeff Westbrook and directed by Chris Clements. The Simpsons stars Dan Castellaneta as Homer Simpson, Julie Kavner as Marge Simpson, Pattie and Selma Bouvier, Nancy Cartwright as Bart Simpson, Yeardley Smith as Lisa Simpson. Hank Azaria plays Chief Wiggum and Moe Szysla. Harry Shearer is Ned Flanders. Guest stars: Carice van Houten as Annika Van Houten. Glenn Close as Mona Simpson.
But It All Went By So Fast: Milhouse Berry Blast. Party Animals: They Look Sad But They’re Not. Springfield Shopper, Another Bad Birthday, Wendell Demands Inquiry. Fly Your Own Drone (No Terrorists). Magazines in Apu’s store: Elevator Music, Boats Magazine, Corporate Monthly, Fashions, Architecture. Grand Theft Walrus. The Exhaustables 3: Arthritis Will Unite Us. The Chafing Chaps Riding Club. The “Won’t Make It.”