Man, I think what happened here might be all Marge’s fault.
It’s also the funniest episode I’ve seen in weeks, so draw your own conclusion.
Yes, Marge really screwed up when she rented that steam vacuum to give the family’s carpeting the best look it’s had in ages. That means kicking out Lisa, Bart, Homer, and the dog for three hours so she can have the deep cleaning she can only dream about.
As it is, Homer heads off to the dog park. He doesn’t want to go there because dog lovers are weird. Bart and Lisa decide they’d rather go to the trampoline park across the street, and despite the steady stream of injured kids coming out of there, Homer figures it can’t be too dangerous what with all the nearby doctor’s offices. You’d think he’d remember the time he had a trampoline, but that would be just plain nutty.
As it is, Santa’s Little Helper is just aggressive enough to scare off Lenny and Lenny’s own weird dog, so Homer isn’t forced to join a Doggie Daddy group. That means the dog deserves a reward, so Homer drives off to a nearby ice cream parlor. He leaves the windows open and the AC on while he goes inside to get a treat for the dog. But this is The Simpsons, so Santa’s Little Helper jumps around a lot, ends up rolling the automatic windows up and knocks the keys out of the ignition, so it sure does look like Homer locked a dog in a hot car, and Homer’s own efforts to open the car up with a set of keys Marge hid under the car doesn’t work when an angry mob pulls him out under the assumption he’s trying to hide. Accidentally locking a Dalmatian in a fire engine doesn’t help either. Homer, despite the fact he didn’t do anything, is branded as a bad dog owner online. Sure, Santa’s Little Helper is still on his side, and Bart and Lisa get it, as does Marge, but Homer is now a viral sensation as an awful person. Homer figures it’ll just blow over soon.
It doesn’t, and an attempt to explain himself in church accidentally knocks Rev. Lovejoy through a window. So, good news for Homer: he’s not longer remembered for being a bad dog owner. Now he’s the Pastor Pusher, and it’s enough to get Mr. Burns to fire him.
You know, if Homer just read the apology Lisa wrote for him, he’d probably be fine.
However, time passes, and Homer realizes the rest of the family went out to Dead Lobster for Prawn Month without him. When he goes down, everyone else leaves except for a man named Theo (guest star Kumail Nanjiani). Theo works for…The Institute! (Cue Title Card) The Institute helps people gets their reputations fixed. After all, Homer can’t go to Moe’s or the Krustyburger anymore, and he is smart enough not to go to the Right Wing Weirdos podcast building. Someone has to help Homer.
That could work. Homer is put on a five person team with Helen Lovejoy (she calls 911 on lemonade stands), a disgraced city councilman who used the bathroom during a Zoom meeting, a short man who keeps getting mad over everything because he thinks they are mocking his height, and Kirk VanHouten. Kirk threw juiceboxes at a coach during a kids soccer game when he wanted Milhouse pulled out of the game due to the boy’s general ineptitude. All these folks went viral, and they all need to work together to get their reputations back.
No word from Helen on how she feels that Homer knocked her husband out of a window.
Well, Theo figures if they do good deeds in public, that should work. And when it doesn’t, he has another plan. All those deeds were training so the group could break into an ad-bot company that sets up clickbait articles on websites, the most powerful driver online, and use a special program to erase all evidence the five did bad stuff. The group just has to break in, work their way past the tempting clickbait terminals, and then insert a thumbdrive into the computer. That seems simple enough since no one actually works inside this place. Homer alone manages to get past the clickbait, and he does insert the drive…only to learn Theo had a lot of really bad people in that program to erase besides Homer and his new friends. Drug company executives, oil barons, and what Homer refers to as a recent former president and said president’s adult children.
I have no idea who those folks might be, but kudos to Homer for following the news that closely.
Well, Homer won’t save his own rep if it means actual bad people can paper over their own misdeeds and yanks the thumbdrive. Then he uses the server to livestream himself reading Lisa’s apology, and it’s so well-written and Homer is so sincere, that all is forgiven.
See, if he had done that in the first place, he would have been fine.
Anyway, Homer is forgiven, so it’s prawns for him and the family, plus Santa’s Little Helper. All is well.
You know, except for Theo since his evil wealthy backers are mad the plan didn’t work. Maybe he should have just asked Lisa to pen a quick apology too…
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