This The Simpsons review contains spoilers.
The Simpsons: Season 29 Episode 20
The Simpsons season 29, episode 20, “Throw Grampa from the Dane” sees the family traveling to Denmark to take advantage of the country’s free health care. Most of the show’s travels out of Springfield find the family in some sloppy situations, with untied loose ends and big boots to fill, especially those in Australia. But, like the country the Simpson family is visiting, the episode is very efficient, but not very exciting.
There are no terrifying lows in “Throw Grampa from the Dane.” There is a potential in one scene where Homer is helping Abe pull a “slip and fall” at one of the ancient Danish castles, but they cop out and pull back. The Simpsons is no longer the show that would try and skate Springfield gorge, one of the dizzying highs of the earliest season. And the only creamy middles come in the actual danish themselves. Even Homer begins to lose weight.
Homer’s dilemma at the center of the episode, tubby or not tubby, is a very high point. Whether to stay in a land where better health is almost a guaranteed destiny, or to go home to where all the best mozzarella is kept is too big a choice for one man. The family is set to stay happily. Marge loves the utilitarian utopia. The schools are better, which is a plus for Lisa, though a sticking point for Bart. But Homer still pines for home.
Health care is more than just a political football to be kicked around in search of a senator’s groin. People get sick over it and crushed under the weight of paying for it. Be it ever so humble, The United States has the third best medical system is North America, love it or leave it. It also has best insurance known in the United States, the kind that’s with you for the good times. Springfield has the third best known couch on the Fox network, and ultimately that is where the heart is, in front of the TV.
Danish TV is known for brooding dramas where teenagers get killed, but Denmark is supposed to be the happiest place in the world. They boast the most lenient sexual morals because they back that with sexiest mortals. Men like Homer, round, soft and capable of expressing even the most rudimentary of emotions, are rare. They are even sought after, as Homer learns as he partakes in the libido killing seductive dance of the country. Happily, such men are also disposable as there will always be some conventioneers from Ohio in town.
This is the second country this season The Simpsons has treated respectfully and we shouldn’t put up with it much longer. We trust the Simson family to represent us as the ugliest of Americans both abroad and on domestic trips. Marge, Lisa and Bart loved New York, but Homer dug in against it like a pot hole at city hall. The Simpsons travels abroad should be followed by travel warnings in whatever country they last featured. These are not diplomats, they are insurgents. They are supposed to be a bull in a China shop and a torch dragon at a Salvador Dali exhibit in Madrid.
What are they thinking? That they’re supposed to tip the balance of how the world sees us after John R. Bolton rustles his mustache or Trump tweets a travelogue? By backsliding on the stereotypes they’ve built as their foundation, they lose the edge in the world of tweaked noses. This is a kinder, gentler Simpsons we have on our hands, and maybe it just comes from age, or lazy sweatshop coloring, but they have to shake the fatigue from their animated cells and bend to offend, subtly and subversively, of course, but with lethal intent. The Simpsons jokes are funny, but they no longer kill.
Back in the days when we were gifted with the big old ugly head of Senior Xtapolapocetl, The Simpsons piled innuendo on top of sarcasm with a scoop of satire to diminish and yet embiggen all three. This season has seen some joke-heavy scripts but now the Olmec token of Mr. Burns affliction is floating in the flood in the family’s living room, along with Bender the robot from Futurama.
The foreign country jabs of the past weren’t as offensive to the countries being spoofed as they were a poke in the eye of the person saying it. Every stereotype exposes the person who seeks to demean by showing their worldview as a very small vantage point. Bart and Homer can make fart jokes when passing traffic signs in Danish, but it’s Marge who exposes herself as the xenophobe, assuming she has to explain the joke to a driver who is already conversing in English.
The Simpsons won’t be stopping any time soon. They are as hard to kill as Grampa. Abe, of course, made the whole thing up. He doesn’t need an operation, he’s just an operator. Ignored at the home for seasons at a time, he’s run out of angry letters to write and is getting more active as he gets older. He should lie down for a while.
The Simpsons’ “Throw Grampa from the Dane” is middling due to his meddling. The episode also isn’t overladen with too many gags that go by too fast. The health care system could have borne more lacerations and wounds. The invaded country is ripe for it. Danes have a sense of humor, among the darkest in the world. At least Grampa’s tattoo alteration was the last straw that sank their economy.
“Throw Grampa from the Dane” was written by Rob Lazebnik, and directed by Michael Polcino.
The Simpsons stars Dan Castellaneta as Homer and Abe Simpson, Julie Kavner as Marge Simpson, Nancy Cartwright as Bart Simpson, Yeardley Smith as Lisa Simpson. Hank Azaria plays Kirk Van Houten, Chief Wiggum and Moe. Harry Shearer is Seymour Skinner, Kent Brockman, C. Montgomery Burns and Waylon Smithers.