July 4, 2022

Gabbing Geek

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Simpsons Did It!: “Poorhouse Rock”

In which a singing janitor teaches Bart about how the economic system isn't set up to allow future generations to make it. You know, a cheerful way to end the season.

Man, I wasn’t expecting an episode where, like, the back half or so is one long song.

But here I am.

But the episode has no singing to start!  Instead, Marge is hosting some of her gal pals to watch a Bridgerton style show, and Sarah Wiggum (returning guest star Megan Mullally…yes, I was surprised too) has brought some, shall we say, alcoholic beverages for everyone to enjoy.  Suffice to say, the sex on screen and the booze in the living room get Marge good and drunk.  She’s too hung over the next morning to go to church.  And no, Homer, that doesn’t mean he can stay home too, even if he’s been to church plenty of times while hung over.

However, things take a turn as the plot always say they should when Bart, in Sunday school, decides to honor his father like the commandment says by running a video of the many, many times Homer failed at something for stupid reasons.  Wait, that doesn’t seem to be honoring Homer at all.

Homer finds out, and his reaction gets him banished to the Angry Adult room since he was only back there to drop Maggie off in the Crying Baby room.

The problem is Bart doesn’t respect Homer, but Marge figures Bart would if he could see what Homer does for a living at the Nuclear Plant, the job Homer has this week from the looks of things.  And…that works.  Bart loves watching Homer at work where he gets free donuts and markers, and basically as long as the core doesn’t disappear, everything is good.  And it’s payday, and Homer cashes the check at a shady check-cashing outfit in ones so he can make it rain in the car.  Now, Bart wants to be a nuclear safety inspector, possibly even taking over Homer’s own job some day.

Lisa keeps hinting she wants to say something.  Huh.

Anyway, Bart follows Homer back to the plant, says he wants Homer’s job, and this janitor (guest star Hugh Jackman) comes out to sing a series of songs with back-up from guest star Robert Reich and Lisa.  The gist of the songs?  Corporate greed and the fact that incomes have not matched the rising rate of inflation since the 50s mean that the middle class is dying out, and that, with automation being a thing, means Bart couldn’t get Homer’s job and expect to live a comparable lifestyle if at all.  No, Bart can’t become rich as a social media personality.  Politicians might do something, but a Tucker Carlson-looking guy keeps riling up old folks to vote for the wrong ones because of made-up culture war issues.  There’s a lot of racism.  And the only thing to do is burn the whole thing down.

Sadly and to the janitor’s horror, Bart takes that fire metaphor literally because the schools aren’t any better.  Fortunately, the fire department shows up, and those guys actually make good money and benefits, giving Bart a career path after all.  Only down sides for Homer is Bart no longer seems to respect him and fires caused by musical numbers aren’t covered by the family’s insurance.

So, uh, that happened.  I don’t necessarily think the song was wrong, based as this episode is around an article from The Atlantic, but it did seem a bit simplistic and designed to make some viewers feel good about themselves without actually doing anything.

Well, do I expect more from The Simpsons?  Eh, not really.  See you when Season 34 starts up.

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