This The Simpsons review contains spoilers.
The Simpsons Season 31 Episode 21
The Simpsons season 31, episode 21, “The Hateful Eight-Year-Olds,” doesn’t have a couch gag and it eschewed the opening credits. This bodes well. The shorter the introductions the better the episodes has been a consistent truism of the series. This has been blamed on the artists having to stretch episodes because they come up short. They stick it in an extended opening to pad out stories which, occasionally, could have been mailed in.
The premise is delivered in a paper-email parcel, which gives The Simpsons a chance to mock the Post Office, a popular target at the moment. The government wants to put it in the dead letter section. Jerry Seinfeld is querulous about its business model, though Seinfeld always had a thing for mailmen. Homer treats his with the casual disdain of a relic from a bygone age. Bart will later show similar contempt to horses, which is the animals girls get to play with while boys get cool animals like dogs and Ninjas. He forgets horses drive stagecoaches, like they did in Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, the film the title is based on. In that film a bunch of desperadoes have an enforced sleepover imposed on them by a blizzard. Lisa’s invitation comes by pony express.
Lisa’s friend Addy, voiced by Joey King, is having a birthday party sleepover. The two eight year olds are library buddies, bonding over the smell of old books and the adventures of the “Gallop Girls” book series. Bart can’t get his head around the appeal. He still wonders why they didn’t just kill all the horses when cars were invented. Preferably with the very cars which replaced them. All this horseplay leads to serious consequences. By the power of the safety scissors kept in her room, Lisa severs the sibling bond with Bart. It’s cute, but we’re not buying it. Safety scissors can barely cut construction paper.
The party itself starts off with promise. Not only do Lisa and Addy get to talk about “Gallop Girls,” they get to be them. Lisa’s friend is rich. She’s the daughter of the guy who sells ketchup to sports arenas, which are free, as Homer points out, another business model which doesn’t make sense. Their house is embarrassingly big and her family owns horses. This makes Lisa give a delighted squeal of delight until she squirms under the weight of her friend’s oppressive playmates. Bella-Ella (Lili Reinhart), who comes from old money, like MySpace old; Sloan (Madelaine Petsch), who even slurps her soda with a British accent, and social media beauty icon Tessa Rose (Camila Mendes), don’t you just hate her?
Lisa, who desperately tries not to judge people, will ultimately hate these eight year olds. The Simpson family routinely find themselves in awkward class-based social situations. These aren’t just “mean girls,” they are the “mean girls” from the other side of the track. They have MyPhones, completely useless items where the camera always points at the face of the owner. They are very stuck up, pretentiously precocious and look down on Lisa only long enough to take mocking videos of her, because baby videos go viral. And she’s trapped all night with them. The voice on the Japanese toilet is the only kind one in the house, and it was only telling her it couldn’t find her butt.
Lisa desperately tries to get her parents to take her home. But they are enjoying their time without the kids. The series gets to play on one of its celebrated celebrations of the obvious. Homer surprises Marge with a sunset cruise, the kind she’s only read about in “Sunset Cruise” magazine. Like the joke, Homer is so handsome when he makes the slightest effort. Meanwhile, they also get to play in a way only animated characters get to do. Marge gets reeled in to the ship’s concert stage with an imaginary fishing line and Homer gets dragged in its wake.
Homer ultimately drags the entire cruise down in his wake. He gets a complaint with a double-reference from Comic Book Guy and Dr. Hibbert calls the time of the party’s death: Vibe killed at 10:33 p.m. Just as it looks like Homer and Marge are going to be thrown overboard, Homer takes a stand which they are helpless to budge. And it’s not just because he partook of the cruises’ buffet. Yes, partners go to game nights with friends who are just trying to sell Amway, and yes, it gets to the point where a husband will only will only notice his wife when he sits on her at 4 a.m. thinking she’s a toilet. But it’s all because of making plans which never turn out as good as anticipated. “I didn’t I didn’t ruin this cruise, I saved your lives,” he says before concluding “return to your homes and never make plans again.” The entire boat is Simpsonized.
While Homer and Marge convert the people of Springfield to their way of seeing the world, Bart and Lisa show those girls in the fancy neighborhood how they do things on Evergreen Terrace. Lisa’s friend turns out to be even worse than she initially thought. Addy really did invite Lisa over just to torture her, but then suggests Lisa invite someone even worse off in the future so they all turn on her. This, and tooth whitening strips, will make Lisa part of the squad. Lisa, who just severed the family ties with her brother, is stuck with him as her last resort. But now she’s just a stranger whose saxophone he’s magnetized to him. And, anyway, he just made the coolest Hot Wheels Torture Track ending at Abe’s butt crack. But, as we know he would, he not only comes through but gets to stiff Uber-driving Principal Skinner in the process.
Bart shows up, not to save Lisa, but to free her. If she leaves the sleepover early she’ll be going to bed early for the rest of her life. But vengeance is like staying up all night. He teaches her revenge could only come from the hatred in your own heart and Lisa finds her hate. She actually exacts a pretty traumatic payback which only Klonopin Gummy Bears can fix. Lisa makes them all look like her with a hair-raising prank worthy of the best of El Barto in his prime. She then educates her brother, after learning he’s not disdainful of horses, but scared of them. He of course contends he hates any animal that works with cops. He learns respect after learning these gentle souls will kick your face off if you walk behind them.
The space left over from the missing credits is given to Weezer, who not only get to showcase their rendition of The Simpsons’ theme, but get an animated makeover. But “The Hateful Eight-Year-Olds” is a worthy installment. The show once again gets to take down the higher classes a peg, even if the actual comeuppance is watered down.
The episode works because everything in the end is Simpsonized. The family character prevails in all social situations. Lisa doesn’t only remind her friend Addy of the important things in life. She inspires her to ditch her overinflated fake friends, which lead them to want to be real friends with her. Homer gets to give a rousing speech, not only to save his and Marge’s lives, but also to prod the people around him to be better people, to stay home and watch TV. “The Hateful Eight-Year-Olds” is loaded with message, but also has its share of laughs. They may appear far more subdued due to an unfortunate Botox reaction.