This The Simpsons review contains spoilers.
The Simpsons: Season 30 Episode 16
The Simpsons, season 30, Episode 16, “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” is a fun episode, harking back to a time of casual living Simpsons. The episode begins as Marge and Homer ditch a mandated drug awareness school conference to con their way into a Wedding Expo, which is as romantic as a thousand weddings. Numerically, this is one of their biggest cons, and as romantic as their episode-long fetish for public sex.
Even the prenups are sexy at the expo, and Marge and Homer double down on their fake identities to come up winners as keynote speakers. It is a perfect evening and leads to the boudoir, which is somewhere near the bedroom. Well, it almost leads there, because Marge put on a little weight, just little enough to overwhelm Homer, whose given up on holding weight a long time ago. It is a little disconcerting seeing Marge fall down the stairs. She’s never taken a fall like this onscreen, so it is an odd imposition on a gag that never fails, Homer falling down stairs.
This episode gives us a spill that Homer feels. He’s fallen down gulches which have killed dead men, doing it again for giggles just to see an ambulance hit a tree. But the fall down the stairs is enough to stop Dr. Hubbard from chuckling. This is a serious matter which must be dealt with in a serious way. Homer is left adding his own chuckle as he eases into recovery. Harvey the Hernia, played by Wallace Shawn, who’s pricked our ears with his instantly recognizable dulcet tones in My Dinner with Andre and The Princess Bride, is a byproduct of the hallucinations Homer’s medicine promises. Homer makes the most of his injury. He even makes it work for him at work, laboring in a hammock he got at the Hammock Hut, on Third in the Hammock Complex in the “You Only Move Twice” episode from Season 8.
Homer never used to really care about his health. He’s quite prepared for an early death. This has been referenced over and over. Every now and then he gets on a health kick, such as when he gained enough weight to be relegated to working from home. Homer’s hernia is there to advise him to get two lasagnas at dinner, though Homer himself comes up with the Henry the Eighth inch pizza with extra meat and a side of chocolate cheesy bread. Henry takes issue with every other exertive effort the head of the Simpson household has to perform. The only one who can see Homer’s hallucination is Maggie, who feeds herself by this point. Ned is there to put the yum in potassium.
Bart and Lisa’s babysitter Shauna is still using Jesus as an excuse when she slips up. She’s still dating Jimbo. Shauna and Jimbo are probably the best babysitters Bart and Lisa have had since Lucille “The Babysitter Bandit” Botzcowski, exquisitely voiced by Penny Marshall, in the first season. They’ve had more exciting babysitters and interesting ones, Bart even got a crush on one. But as far as temporary guardians forced to deal with the three kids, the teen slackers are most in touch with their wards. Jimbo finds cool videos like “Things Pythons eat, and there are kittens in it for Lisa. The things he learns from horror movies proving to Shauna he would be such a good dad.
Say what you want about them, and Nelson has a field day sometimes, Shauna and Jimbo know how to keep it together. When Lisa needs couple’s advice for her parents, they come through. Lisa finds that thread which connects their world to her parents, bridging both a generational and psychological gap. If A equals B, who needs C? Lisa figures out how to get Marge and Homer on the same sand.
If this episode gives us nothing else, we get to see Principal Seymour Skinner on blizzard, a new hip street drug that has been infiltrating Springfield. At the mandatory parent conference DANK, an acronym for Drunk and Alcohol Night of Knowledge, Superintendent Chalmers forces him to take a snort or two of the illicit substance as a lesson for the parents. This is the educational system of the future. It’s completely immersive and a little MK Ultra, making it beautifully subversive. The gag recurs as we later see Seymour getting chased by Chalmers who wants the document the effects of other drugs on him.
During the parents’ conference, which Homer has been ignoring by watching a game though his pants, we learn Lenny’s birth mom is named Cheryl and wants nothing to do with him. Speaking of unwanted family, Homer calls Marge’s sister a hairy legged ashtray, and Grandpa admits all the comedians who have ever made him laugh are dead.
There is also a clever gag on spoof dialects. Homer asks his physical therapist Nigel if he can drop his New Zealand accent for a second, being able to discern the words “widow maker,” and begs him to go back to the accent, which sounds like it thickens, as does the plot.
The episode ends on a twist. It seems there was espionage afoot and the physical therapist wasn’t interested in Marge at all. Throughout the episode Nigel has been trying to treat Homer at work at the Springfield Nuclear Plant. Chief Wiggum plans a sting and Homer is the only person to pull it off. His inability to read through accents is a superpower in disguise. If only his talents could be used for good instead of evil, they might say on Get Smart. And they’d be wrong because the segment is called “Mission Simpossible.” The segment’s theme music is even in five time, just as it is on the TV series Mission: Impossible‘s theme, though not on U2’s cover for the film reboot.
We should have seen this coming when Nigel’s therapeutic regimen could be done to the Beach Boys “Surfin’ Safari.” The episode title comes from the song which closes the A side of Abbey Road. The Beatle’s longest song, “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” had the fewest words of any of their songs, and is actually two songs merged into one. This drives me mad.
The Simpsons, “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” tugs at the groin muscle of the heart, and tickles the lower abdomen into a few almost-belly laughs. It is slyly irreverent and thematically irrelevant enough to continue a string of increasingly funny episodes. It feels like the writers are slowly remembering the feel of the earlier seasons: The mixture of disrespect, family unity and a warped community’s values, which feeds the jokes. Wiggum’s sting may have worked, but he still would have preferred ruining people’s days at the beach with parking tickets. Homer is never going to set another foot in a kite ski. Jimbo will never get to taste face cookies.
“I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” was directed by Steven Dean Moore, and written by Jeff Westbrook.
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 Comic Book Guy, Kirk Van Houten, Chief Wiggum, Professor John I.Q. Nerdelbaum Frink Jr., and Moe. Harry Shearer is Seymour Skinner, Kent Brockman, C. Montgomery Burns and Waylon Smithers. Guest stars: Wallace Shawn as Wallace.
The Simpsons‘ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” aired Sunday, March 10, at 8:00 p.m. on Fox.
Bart’s Chalkboard: Readying for the final in a Krusty competition.
Culture Editor Tony Sokol cut his teeth on the wire services and also wrote and produced New York City’s Vampyr Theatre and the rock opera AssassiNation: We Killed JFK. Read more of his work here or find him on Twitter @tsokol.