Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy
"Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy" is the tenth television episode of The Simpsons' sixth season. It was first broadcast on the Fox network in the United States on December 4, 1994. In the episode, Marge and Homer's sex life is struggling, but Grampa perks things up with a homemade revitalizing tonic. He and Homer go on the road to sell their elixir, and Grampa reveals that Homer’s conception was not planned. Homer is furious with his father and decides to spend more time with his children, but his over-parenting does not work very well on them. Homer goes back to the old farmhouse he grew up in for inspiration and meets back up with his father, but their loving reunion is soured when the house goes up in flames.
The episode was directed by Wes Archer and written by Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein. After its initial airing on Fox, the episode was later released as part of a 1999 video collection: The Simpsons – Too Hot For TV, and released again on the 2003 DVD edition of the same collection. The episode features cultural references to songs such as "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" and "Celebration", as well as a reference to the 1963 film The Nutty Professor. "Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy" received positive reception from television critics, and acquired a Nielsen rating of 9.5.
When Homer and Marge's marriage becomes boring due to their fading sex life, Grampa pieces together a tonic that is guaranteed to put the sparks back into their relationship. The effectiveness of the tonic results in Homer and Grampa going into business together, selling "Simpson and Son’s Revitalizing Tonic" to the public utilizing a medicine show. They travel from town to town selling the product, but after visiting the farmhouse where Homer grew up, the two get into an argument. Grampa yells at Homer in the car, saying that if he had not taken the tonic years ago, Homer would not have been born, finally shouting "You were an accident!" Homer, deeply hurt, throws Grampa out of the car, and proceeds to shut his father out of his life. It also causes him to change the way he acts as a father to his own children, whom he vows to show the attention and love he never received from Grampa. Bart and Lisa, however, feel he is overcompensating, and find that they prefer the "old" Homer.
Bart and friends attempt to figure out why all of the adults disappear after they buy the "Simpson and Son's Tonic". They come up with numerous conspiracy theories, none of which have to do with the tonic. Lisa, a skeptic, sarcastically offers up the possibility of all the adults being "reverse vampires" and having to be home before dark, which frightens the rest of the children more than their serious ideas.
Depressed at having failed to be a good father even when he is trying, Homer goes back to the farmhouse to think. He sees old photographs, including one of himself as a child on Christmas morning, where he thinks "my dad was not even there that Christmas when I finally got to meet Santa Claus". Homer then realizes that it was his father in a Santa costume, proving that Grampa did really care for him. Homer quickly reunites with Grampa, who by coincidence has also gone to the farmhouse to reflect. Both of them accidentally set fire to different parts of the building at the same time (Homer accidentally setting fire to the photo and Grampa throwing a bottle of his tonic into a fireplace) and bump into one another on the front porch while fleeing the blaze. The two both admit they are "screw-ups" and reconcile.
The episode was directed by Wes Archer, and was written by Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein. It was originally intended to deal with Homer and Marge's problematic sex life, but later developed into a story about the relationship between Homer and father. Dan Castellaneta provides the voices for both Homer and Grampa. Castellaneta therefore had to talk to himself when he recorded the voices of the two characters in their interactions for this episode. Castellaneta says that it is hard for him to do Grampa's voice because it is "wheezy and airy".
Homer and Marge spend the night at an inn, called the Aphrodite Inn, to spice up their sex life. The inn was partly based on the Madonna Inn, which as in the episode features different kinds of sex-oriented rooms with unusual names that are supposed to spice up your love life. The design of the old farmhouse was inspired by the house featured in the 1993 film Flesh and Bone. Bart's obsession with conspiracy theories was inspired by the writers observation that children around his age go through a stage where they become "addicted" to information about UFOs and paranormal phenomena. Bill Oakley himself had gone through the same thing when he was around 10 years old.
Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States, is shown celebrating Lisa's purchase of his book, Sane Planning, Sensible Tomorrow, by listening to "Celebration" by Kool & the Gang. "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" is played during a chase scene, reminiscent of a recurring theme of the 1967 landmark film Bonnie and Clyde. A parody of The X-Files' theme song is played in the background of a scene after Bart purchases a copy of the book Unidentified Flying Outrage. When Professor Frink takes the tonic, he transforms into a suave man with a deep voice, which is a reference to Jerry Lewis transforming into Buddy Love in The Nutty Professor. Grampa, within proper context, successfully pronounces the word pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. Milhouse's conspiratorial revalation and his line about being throught the looking class is quoted from the movie, JFK.
In its original American broadcast, "Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy" finished 58th in the ratings for the week of November 28 to December 4, 1994, with a Nielsen rating of 9.5. The episode was the third highest rated show on the Fox network that week.
Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, the authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, said it was "an amazing episode, in which Homer actually has an argument with someone, rather than backing down. As he and his father drift further apart, so the family are at a loss at what to do. You can't help but feel sorry for Grampa as a piece of Simpson family history goes up in flames". Nate Meyers at Digitally Obsessed praised Dan Castellaneta's role in the episode and said: "Dan Castellaneta's work as both Homer and Grampa Simpson in [the episode] is full of emotion and brilliant comic timing. Watch the closing scene carefully as Homer returns to his childhood home, because Castellaneta gracefully dances between a tender father-son relationship and flat-out comedy". Colin Jacobson at DVD Movie Guide said he "didn’t remember this as a very good episode, but it actually turns out to be quite strong. The initial plot in which Homer and Marge can’t get it together offers plenty of funny moments, and the scenes in which Homer battles with his dad offer depth and much humor. It’s also hard to beat the children's fears of the reverse vampires".
"Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy" originally aired on Fox in the United States on December 4, 1994. The episode was selected for release in a 1999 video collection of selected episodes titled: The Simpsons – Too Hot For TV. Other episodes included in the collection set were "The Cartridge Family", "Natural Born Kissers", and "Treehouse of Horror IX". It was included in The Simpsons season 6 DVD set, which was released August 16, 2005 – The Simpsons – The Complete Sixth Season. The episode was again included in the 2003 DVD release of the "Too Hot For TV" set.
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- Archer, Wes (2005). The Simpsons season 6 DVD commentary for the episode "Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Mirkin, David (2005). The Simpsons season 6 DVD commentary for the episode "Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Oakley, Bill (2005). The Simpsons season 6 DVD commentary for the episode "Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian (2000). "Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy". BBC. Retrieved 2008-03-27.
- "Four-Bagger Puts ABC Over The Top". The Associated Press. December 8, 1994. p. 15E. Retrieved on October 17, 2008.
- Meyers, Nate (August 17, 2005). "DVD Review: The Simpsons: The Complete Sixth Season (1994-95)". Digitally Obsessed. Retrieved 2008-10-17.
- Jacobson, Colin (2003). "The Simpsons: The Complete Sixth Season (1994)". DVD Movie Guide. Retrieved 2008-10-08.
- "The Simpsons - Too Hot For TV (VHS)". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2008-10-17.
- "The Simpsons - The Complete Sixth Season". The Simpsons (20th Century Fox). August 16, 2005.
- "The Simpsons - Too Hot For TV (DVD)". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2008-10-17.
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