Simpson and Delilah
"Simpson and Delilah" is the second episode of The Simpsons' second season and first aired on October 18, 1990. Homer uses the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant medical insurance plan to buy 'Dimoxinil', a miracle hair growth formula. Homer grows hair, and is given a promotion at work which allows him to hire a secretary named Karl. The episode was directed by Rich Moore and written by Jon Vitti, and guest starred Harvey Fierstein as Karl.
Homer sees an advertisement for Dimoxinil, a new "miracle breakthrough" for baldness. He visits a store which sells Dimoxinil, but at $1000 it is far out of Homer's price range. At work, Lenny suggests Homer pay for Dimoxinil through the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant medical insurance plan. The druggist yells that Dimoxinil is a frivolous product that is not covered by any medical insurance, but whispers to Homer that he will arrange an under-the-table trade. Homer successfully applies the drug, and after using it, he wakes up the next day to the thrill of having a full head of hair, and runs throughout the town blissfully. At work, Mr. Burns surveys the security monitors to find a new person to promote to an executive position. He sees Homer with hair and, mistaking him for a young go-getter, chooses Homer for the job.
As he is about to become an executive, Homer tries to look for a good secretary, but all the applicants fail due to being seductive young women – until Homer finds a man named Karl, who earnestly persuades Homer to tell himself that he deserves everything he has and is the finest creature God ever created. Homer eventually picks Karl, and they go shopping for a suit. At an executive board meeting, Homer is singled out by an impressed Burns to give a suggestion to increase worker productivity, and Homer meekly suggests that he give more tartar sauce in the lunch room, which Mr. Burns does. Following the increase in tartar sauce distribution, Mr. Burns is glad to hear that workplace safety is on the up-and-up and accidents are down. Smithers remarks that all the past accidents were either caused by Homer or believed to be traced to him. However, Burns tells Smithers to stop being negative and even accuses him of harboring jealousy towards Homer. Homer forgets his wedding anniversary, but Marge forgives him due to his new demanding schedule. Karl covers for Homer by hiring a singing telegram service to serenade Marge with "You Are So Beautiful", which Marge loves.
Homer becomes successful and receives the honor of being given the key to the executive washroom. Smithers begins to feel jealous of Homer for his high standing with Mr. Burns and searches Homer's file, finding the damaging information he seeks in the case of insurance fraud that gave Homer hair in the first place. Smithers gleefully prepares to fire Homer for the fraud, but Karl takes the blame for Homer and writes the $1000 check to repay the company. Frustrated, Smithers is instead forced to fire Karl, who has sacrificed his own job to save Homer's. Homer is deeply saddened to see Karl go after all Karl had done for him, including lending Homer his umbrella before finally leaving in the rain. Homer is invited to give a speech at the next meeting, and Smithers does his best to ruin Homer's confidence. Homer is nervous about giving the speech without Karl, but reasons that as long as he has hair, everything will be fine.
Meanwhile, at home, Bart uses some of the Dimoxinil in a misguided attempt to grow a beard. When Homer enters and catches Bart, Bart accidentally drops the Dimoxinil, spilling it all onto the floor. By the next day, Homer has lost all his hair and, bald again, arrives at the meeting. His fears are alleviated when Karl appears with a pre-written speech for him, but Homer is still convinced he is incapable of accomplishing anything without his hair. Karl impatiently tells Homer what he had been trying to teach him all along—that all of Homer's achievements had been the result of his own will and effort, not of his hair. Karl urges Homer to think higher of himself and give the speech, even kissing him on the lips to prove his point. Reassured, Homer presents a brilliant speech on the Japanese art of self-management, but the audience is unable to take him seriously because he has no hair. Everyone leaves, leaving Homer greatly disappointed. Burns angrily summons Homer, threatening to fire him, but reveals photographs of himself with strawberry curly hair in his younger years when girls flocked to him until he went bald, and as a fellow sufferer of male pattern baldness, sympathizes with Homer's situation and merely demotes him back to his old position rather than terminating him.
At home later that night, Homer confesses to Marge he is afraid that his life has returned to a dead-end job, that his kids will be disappointed because he can no longer buy the things for them he promised he would, and most of all that Marge will no longer love him as much. However, Marge reminds Homer that his safety inspector job has always brought food to the table, and that the kids will get over not being spoiled. Marge then reaffirms her love for Homer as they sing "You Are So Beautiful" together into the night.
Homer's hair product Dimoxinil is a spoof on a similar product, Minoxidil, which fascinated the writers. After growing hair, the production staff tried to give Homer a new hair design in every scene. The character Karl was played by openly gay actor Harvey Fierstein. Groening had originally intended to design Karl to look like Fierstein, who objected to the idea because he felt he did not "look like gay people, how they're supposed to look." Fierstein suggested that the character be made "blond, and tall, and gorgeous, and skinny, and [given] a beautiful place to live."
The episode features a kiss between Homer and Karl, which occurred a decade prior to US television's first real man-on-man kiss on Dawson's Creek. In the episode, Karl is implied to be homosexual; creator Matt Groening says that when people began asking "was he gay?" the day after the episode aired, his response was "he's whatever you want him to be." However, Groening points out, "he does kiss Homer: He does give him a nice pat on the butt" which is "beyond [what] any other cartoon" had done at the time.
Karl was originally supposed to return for a cameo appearance in the season 14 episode "Three Gays of the Condo". In the script, Homer was thrown out of the house by Marge, and encountered Karl. The purpose of the appearance was to introduce a gay couple that Homer would live with. Fierstein however felt that "the script was a lot of very clever gay jokes, and there just wasn't that Simpsons twist" and turned the role down.
- The scene in which Homer is running through town after he got his hair is a reference to the film It's a Wonderful Life.
- The scene in which Homer receives the key to the executive washroom is a reference to the movie Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?.
- The title of the episode is a reference to the Biblical story of Samson and Delilah, in which the former loses his unusual strength when his hair is cut.
During the second season, The Simpsons aired on Fox on Thursdays at 8 PM, which was the same time as The Cosby Show, which aired on NBC. The supposed "Bill vs. Bart" rivalry had been heavily hyped by the media. The first airing of "Simpson and Delilah" on Fox had a 16.2 rating and 25% share, while The Cosby Show, which aired during the same timeslot had an 18.5 rating. However, viewer-wise, The Simpsons won with 29.9 million viewers. It is one of the highest rated episodes of The Simpsons. "Bart Gets an F", the season premiere and episode that aired the week before, averaged an 18.4 Nielsen rating, had 29% of the audience and was watched by an estimated 33.6 million viewers.
This episode was placed twenty-third on Entertainment Weekly's top 25 The Simpsons episodes list. Harvey Fierstein is number two on TV Guide's "All-time Favorite Guest Voices." The Daily Telegraph characterized the episode as one of "The 10 Best Simpsons TV Episodes." In a 2008 article, Entertainment Weekly named Harvey Fierstein's role as Karl as one of the sixteen best guest appearances on The Simpsons. Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, the authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, praised Fierstein's performance, saying the episode was "brought to life by the superb character of Karl, helped no doubt by Harvey Fierstein's unique vocal drawl."
- Groening, Matt (1997). Richmond, Ray; Coffman, Antonia, eds. The Simpsons: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family (1st ed.). New York: HarperPerennial. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-06-095252-5. LCCN 98141857. OCLC 37796735. OL 433519M..
- Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian (2000). "Simpson and Delilah". BBC. Retrieved 2008-07-30.
- "Simpson and Delilah". The Simpsons.com. Retrieved 2011-09-16.
- Jean, Al (2002). Commentary for the episode "Simpson and Delilah". The Simpsons: The Complete Second Season (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Ortved, John (2009). The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History. Greystone Books. pp. 248–250. ISBN 978-1-55365-503-9.
- "The Family Dynamic". Entertainment Weekly. 2003-01-29. Retrieved 2008-07-30.
- Tucker, Ken (2000-06-09). "The Big Kiss-Off". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2008-07-30.
- Sadownick, Doug (1991-02-26). "Groening Against the Grain; Maverick Cartoonist Matt Groening Draws in Readers With Gay Characters Akbar and Jeff". Advocate (571). Retrieved 2007-08-08.
- Reiss, Mike (2002). Commentary for the episode "Bart Gets an F". The Simpsons: The Complete Second Season (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Walt Belcher (1990-10-18). "" The Simpsons ,' "Cosby' square off in second round". The Tampa Tribune. p. 6F.
- "Bart vs. Bill results in a split decision!". The Record. 1990-10-23. p. B8.
- Scott D. Pierce (1990-10-18). "Don't have a cow, man! More viewers watch 'The Simpsons' than 'Cosby'!". The Deseret News. p. C5.
- Jones, Arnold Wayne (2007-05-18). "The Simpsons Turns 400: We Name the Greatest Guests!". TV Guide. Retrieved 2008-07-30.
- Walton, James (2007-07-21). "The 10 Best Simpsons TV Episodes (In Chronological Order)". The Daily Telegraph. p. 3.
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- "Simpson and Delilah" at The Simpsons.com
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- "Simpson and Delilah" at TV.com
- "Simpson and Delilah" at the Internet Movie Database