This particular episode of The Simpsons features two rather noteworthy things. First, it is near as I can make out the only episode series creator Matt Groening has sole script credit for. He assisted with a few others, but this one is the only one with just his name on it (though in cases like this, there was probably a lot of polish from all the other writers, as with any show).
Second, it has one of my favorite Homer lines, “It takes two to lie: one to lie and one to listen.” Marge didn’t know what that meant. I don’t think I do either.
After a night at the movies goes disastrously for any member of the family over the age of ten, Homer drives off since he carries himself with a quiet dignity that Marge stole from him by shouting at him in the movie theater to the general cheers of everyone else in the place.
Did you know Homer carries himself with a quiet dignity? Because I sure didn’t.
About one hundred or so miles away, Homer finds a redneck bar where, “Let’s fight!” is considered fightin’ words. After poor Yodelin’ Zeke gets knocked out ten seconds into his act, the bar pulls out a waitress named Lurleen Lumpkin to sing a song of her own composition. She’s voiced by actress Beverly D’Angelo, who even wrote a couple of Lurleen’s songs. Homer finds the song highly relatable, and decides to talk to her, then get her song on a 25 cent CD, which leads to her getting her song on the radio.
Lurleen’s song is good enough to cause Moe to declare free drinks to his own empty tavern, calm down an enraged Krusty, and even stop a prison riot. It’s that good.
Well, it doesn’t impress two people. Bart hates country music since it takes away from valuable shock jock time. And Marge is just seething over the time Homer is spending with this woman. When pressed, Homer’s ability to name any country singer is limited to a jerk in a cowboy hat and a dead lady. That’s fairly specific.
Here’s the thing: Homer is being rather genuine in wanting to share Lurleen’s gift with the world. Lurleen is the one who asks Homer to be her manager (and he apparently is good at it, but we do learn later this is not Homer’s first dabbling with the music business), and Homer is completely oblivious to Lurleen’s flirting with him for the longest time. It’s debatable if he even knows why Marge is upset. Marge sees what’s going on, but Marge always has been smarter than Homer, though she probably ground her teeth down a bit too much during that recording session.
On a side note, Marge isn’t the only person hurt by Homer’s quasi-straying ways: Moe is a little upset Homer went to a completely different bar, even if he was way out of town.
How oblivious is Homer? Lurleen sings a particularly sexy song, asking him to bunk with her, and after declaring there isn’t a man alive who wouldn’t be turned on by that says, “So long,” and starts to leave. Lurleen has to do like many before her and spell things out for Homer very explicitly. Then he finally gets it.
How much is Homer tempted? It’s hard to say. He is still her manager, though when he realizes his entire romantic life has been Marge and a lot of disappointment, he wises up, sells the contract very cheap, and goes back to Marge. All is forgiven.
What did Lurleen see in Homer anyway? As near as I can make out, he was the first person to be really nice to her. And he did help her career take off.
And if nothing else, he got a suit designed for Elvis that cleans itself with sweat. Not a bad deal all told.