So, the first real episode of season sixteen is a Marge episode? How does that happen?
Well, you know if that happens there will be a subplot involving Bart or Homer. In this case, it’s Bart.
The house next door to the Simpsons is for sale. No, not Ned Flanders’ house. Ruth Powers’ place. Sometimes she’s still seen there. At any rate, Marge convinces Homer to go over and take a look to see how the other half lives. And the other half lives spectacularly…at least in the kitchen. It even has a breadmaker-maker. It makes a breadmaker that then makes a loaf of fresh bread.
Now Marge wants a new kitchen. Homer obliges her but tries to do the job himself, something that leads to frequent electrocution, very low ceilings, and the discovery of Homer’s old Playdude stash. Homer insists he kept them for the articles. Marge cuts out all the naked women. Homer finds the articles suck and throws the magazines away. Bart and Milhouse then find the heavily-edited magazines and don’t quite see what all the fuss was about. And though they don’t quite get all the more suggestive stuff in the magazine, the boys decide to adopt the swinging Playdude lifestyle, which seems to involve jokes they don’t quite get, smoking jackets, and bubble pipes. Turning Bart’s treehouse into a Playdude experience seems to work too well when guest star James Caan ends up in the kiddie pool/hot tub before going off to play backgammon with Mrs. Krabappel.
That’s about all I’ll say about that one. It runs its course when Homer horrifies Bart by explaining the birds and the bees to him, and by extension every kid in the neighborhood.
But back to Marge’s kitchen. She hires a contractor who promises a new kitchen in two to three weeks. Two years later, at a cost of $100,000, Marge has a giant dream kitchen that will not last past this episode. Besides, the kids haven’t aged a day.
Feeling adventurous, Marge whips up some wasabi hot wings for a church fundraiser, a treat that is praised by everyone from Sideshow Mel to reclusive author/guest star Thomas Pynchon.
Feeling emboldened, Marge decides to enter a contest to become the face of the Ovenfresh company. Her “dessert dogs” that look like hot dogs but are actually desserts get her into the contest, but a number of other contestants sabotage her efforts. As she finds herself alone in the room with the entries, Marge gets frustrated enough to sabotage everyone else’s with Maggie’s ear medicine. Only Lisa sees her mom do this, and Lisa is horrified.
In fact, Lisa’s horror at how far her mom stooped rears its head when Marge is in the finals against Cletus’ wife/sister/whatever Brandine. It turns out that wasn’t roadkill in the contest room. A well-placed card gets Marge to confess, and Brandine wins the contest by default. That apparently makes her feel too good for Cletus, so she runs off with James Caan.
Those hillbillies at the toll booth got him good, like something out of The Godfather. He has good reason to hate those things.