Diatribe of a Mad Housewife
"Diatribe of a Mad Housewife" is the tenth episode of The Simpsons' fifteenth season, which originally aired January 25, 2004. Marge is inspired to write a romance novel, though after Homer hears rumors that Marge is secretly in love with Ned Flanders due to the storyline of the novel, he grows jealous. Meanwhile, Homer buys an ambulance and becomes an ambulance driver.
In the episode, reclusive author Thomas Pynchon has a cameo appearance, wearing a paper bag within a question mark on his head. This is intended to satirise the author's "own carefully crafted anonymity". His appearance on The Simpsons was "his only sanctioned authorial image in decades". He later appeared in the season 16 episode "All's Fair in Oven War".
Dr. Marvin Monroe appears in this episode. He had not been seen since early seasons. Harry Shearer, who plays him, did not like doing the voice as it hurt his throat. The character had been subtly suggested to be dead, and mentions in this episode that he has just "been sick".
The Psychology of the Simpsons: D'oh! cites a section of dialogue from the episode to illustrate its point that "Homer and Marge don't seem to be very good at communicating before making important decisions".
After Homer buys nearly everything on the menu at Krusty Burger, burrito filling hits the windshield and, unable to see the road, he swerves towards the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, crashes into the main building and crushes a safety inspector. Mr. Burns fires Homer and throws him out of the SNPP before tossing his wrecked car out of the area as well.
Meanwhile, Marge, Bart and Lisa are at the bookstore, where Marge meets author Esmé Delacroix (likely a parody of the late British author E. M. Delafield, whose first name was Edmé). This meeting inspires Marge to write a novel. Homer tries his hand at auto sales but is remarkably bad at it (when he passes gas during a sales pitch, he turns on the car radio as a deflection), yet he is happy to buy a 1959 ambulance.
Marge begins to write a novel about whaling times (inspired by the boat painting in the living room, "Scene from Moby Dick"), and proceeds to write several sentences. That evening, Homer runs ambulance service. Unfortunately for his customers (patients), he loses his way and refuses to accept that he is lost, although driving in circles. Marge creates the characters for her novel: Temperance, the dutiful lady, inspired by herself; Temperance's loving whaler husband, Mordecai, inspired by Homer; and Cyrus Manly, inspired by Ned Flanders. At first, she has Mordecai as a successful whale hunter, but after he comes home and obnoxiously demands Marge cook him up a gourmet meal, Marge decides to remake him into a lazy, drunk fisherman who is a bad husband and father, who is always getting drunk at Moe's Tavern. She completes the book, titled The Harpooned Heart. She gets positive reviews and decides to get it published. At Lisa's advice (who has noticed the similarities between fiction and real life), Marge asks Homer to read her book, but he falls asleep before getting anything done, later deciding to lie to her that he read the whole book and loved it. Marge becomes an instant success, although Tom Clancy and Thomas Pynchon do not want to supply praise blurbs for the novel and Clancy is surprised when his hypothetic, rejected idea of praise is taken as a sincere endorsement of Marge's work. However, Helen Lovejoy begins to spread rumors that the novel is based on Marge's life.
After Homer is teased by several people who imply that Ned is Marge's secret love, Homer gets mad and decides to read the book. He buys an audiotape version read by the Olsen twins. After arguing with Marge, Homer decides to get revenge on Ned. He chases him in his ambulance after Ned flees. Lisa tells Bart that this situation is similar to the ending of the novel; Mordecai confronts Cyrus at the edge of a cliff and harpoons him after Cyrus accidentally reveals he conceived a child with Temperance. However, he is caught in his harpoon's rope, which has impaled Cyrus to the back of a sperm whale, and dies along with his adversary. Ned is sure Homer is going to kill him when they are on the cliff, and is stunned when Homer drops to his knees and begs Ned to show him how to be a good husband. Marge arrives in a panic and is relieved that Homer and Ned are OK and that Homer says this was a wake-up call for him. Homer and Marge then decide to make their own novel: "Who Really Killed JFK?", with Homer's unsuccessful theory being that Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK as a distraction so he could steal the "Jack Ruby", but then refutes his own idea when Marge tells him that Jack Ruby was a man, not a jewel.
DVDMG commented that the episode over-explained a decent joke - about Moby-Dick - making it lose its funniness. The site added that "'Diatribe' takes two lackluster premises to combine into a forgettable show".
- Keith Booker, M (2006-01-01). Drawn to Television: Prime-time Animation from the Flintstones to Family Guy. ISBN 9780275990190.
- Finn, Edward Frederick (2011). The Social Lives of Books: Literary Networks in Contemporary American Fiction.
- Cowart, David (2012-01-15). Thomas Pynchon and the Dark Passages of History. ISBN 9780820337098.
- Alan S. Brown; Chris Logan (2013-08-21). The Psychology of the Simpsons: D'oh!. ISBN 9781935251392.