So, was Homer a good parent in this one or not?
Our story begins with a rainy night at the Simpson house. Lisa is beating Homer simultaneously at four different board games, Patty and Selma are visiting, and everybody is getting along. Yes, everybody. Then everyone notices how weird it is for Patty and Selma to actually give Homer some parenting props. And that would be about the point Marge notices Bart’s missing.
It turns out Bart isn’t that far away. He’s in his room with a small mustache growing in playing a computer game. It’s a massive PvP style thing, and he’s in simultaneous communication with his team made up of Milhouse, Nelson, Martin, and Sophie, so Natasha Lyonne is back for another guest appearance for some reason. Maybe just so she can make a joke later about Krusty letting them have a celebratory lunch at the Krustyburger though it doesn’t sound like the food is free.
Now, Marge is concerned that Bart seems glued to the screen, but Homer explains that this was a punishment. How was buying Bart a top-of-the-line computer system a punishment? Simple: he’s so glued to the screen that he can’t go off and get into trouble. And if you think that would concern Marge, you’d be wrong. She accepts this. And if you think this wouldn’t work in reality, I have actually seen it work in reality, no joke, so take that. And if you think Lisa wouldn’t be too happy about that, you’d be right. She threatens to be bad, but no one believes her. They were right not to.
Now, Marge does get concerned later when she discovers Bart is even playing the game in the shower, but his team is really good, so he gets Homer to back off by simply explaining that he and his team are in a tournament with a $1,000 grand prize, and though it takes Homer a while to understand that, he sure does change his mind when he sees Bart’s team win., especially when he learns there’s a world championship with even more money involved.
Can he get Marge on his side? Sure. He knows how. It involves making Marge culpable. That means buying her an espresso machine with Bart’s share of the original prize money, and sure enough, Marge loves the coffee enough to overlook Bart and Homer’s new project.
In a nice touch, Marge sure does drink a lot of coffee throughout the episode.
Now, I did say this was Homer’s new project, and why wouldn’t it be? He has a dream where he’s serenaded by the demanding dads who lived through the glory of their athlete sons’s success led by Tiger Woods’ dad. I know that man has a real name, but he didn’t do the guest appearance, so I don’t feel like looking it up. As such, Homer does wake up determined to make Bart and his team champions. He starts by hiring an expert, but that guy loses his edge in the Simpson house and immediately retires from the game. He was 19. Homer then takes on the job himself and…it’s working. He somehow knows how to coach a game he doesn’t seem to know how to play. That means Bart and his team are on their way to the world championship in South Korea, where Bart, Milhouse, and Sophie dream of the prize money, Martin dreams of Nelson being his friend, and Nelson dreams of a bathroom with doors.
Nelson’s life is pretty bleak. In another nice touch, Nelson’s computer is clearly an older model than the others’s.
So, we all know Bart can’t win this thing. This isn’t that kind of show. What can go wrong? For starters, Lisa wants to go and see a particular temple, and she convinces Marge to have the whole family go to South Korea with Bart and Homer. And once there, as Homer benches Milhouse for a local ringer (he figures Milhouse is used to crushing disappointment), Lisa takes her parents to the temple where they can learn zen by making salt artwork and then destroying it. Marge gets it first, and then…Homer gets it. He really gets it. He gets it enough to make two monks, one of whom for some reason is voiced by Ken Jeong, to note Homer’s resemblance to the Buddha. And not just because he’s a fat guy, but that probably helps.
Is that joke potentially offensive coming from this show?
Anyway, Homer now thinks competition is meaningless and everything is fleeting, so he wanders down to the tournament where Bart and his team are about to win the whole thing until Homer pulls the plug and shuts down the power. No one wins, even if Homer is still in his own version of zen right about then.
Yes, the other kids blame Bart for this.
Yes, Homer is kicked out of that club of dads living vicariously through their kids in his next dream.
And yes, that was the end of the episode.