"Eight Misbehavin'" is the seventh episode of the eleventh season of the American animated sitcom The Simpsons. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on November 21, 1999. In the episode, after Manjula gives birth to octuplets that were the result of fertility drugs, she and Apu unintentionally allows a zookeeper to exploit their babies in exchange for help after corporate sponsors abandon them for a mom that has given birth to nonuplets. The episode features several guest appearances and cultural references. Reception of the episode from television critics has been mixed.
The family visits Shøp, a store based on Ikea, and decides to go to the food court. There, they meet Apu and Manjula. They say that they would like to have a baby. They eventually do, and Manjula gives birth to octuplets with the help of fertility drugs, given by the Simpsons and Apu. It makes headlines across Springfield, with local companies giving the Nahasapeemapetilons free products. However, their feat is eclipsed when a family in Shelbyville give birth to nine babies. With the discovery, the gifts were revoked. Apu and Manjula swiftly find they are not up to the task of raising eight kids all at once.
Apu told Marge that all of his octuplets have colic. Later, Apu is met by the sleazy owner of the Springfield Zoo, a man named Larry Kidkill. Kidkill offers to put Apu's children in a nursery. Although Apu is not open to the idea at first, he caves in and reluctantly accepts. The children are the stars of a show at the zoo named "Octopia", but Apu is not impressed and he wants to liberate his children from the zoo's owner, but Kidkill will not let them because they are under contract. Apu talks with Homer, and they sneak into the zoo at night to rescue the octuplets. Unfortunately, Homer accidentally wakes up the nanny, who sounds the alarm.
They quickly rush the octuplets to the Simpson household only for Kidkill to track them there. Homer manages to negotiate that he perform at the zoo through a new contract with a new act. After Kidkill refuses his original act (which was simply Homer prancing around in a monkey suit), he goes to his second plan; an act where he rides a tricycle with Butch Patrick on his shoulders, both of them dressed as Eddie Munster, on a stage as both are being attacked by cobras (some real, some merely animatronic snakes packed with venom). Inspired by Homer's example, Apu and Manjula resolve that they can take care of their kids, while Homer is mercilessly attacked by several of the snakes and a mongoose put in to contain them.
Production and themes
"Eight Misbehavin'" was written by Matt Selman and directed by Steven Dean Moore as part of the eleventh season of The Simpsons (1999–2000). Guest starring in the episode were Jan Hooks (as Manjula), Garry Marshall (as Larry Kidkill), and Butch Patrick (as himself). According to Jonathan Gray in his 2006 book Watching with The Simpsons: Television, Parody, and Intertextuality, the episode makes fun of the "conflation of real time and occasional predilection for time jumps" often seen in sitcoms. He further noted that in "Eight Misbehavin", "in order to fit a character's pregnancy into one episode, we skip nine months." Here, Gray refers the part in the episode where a new scene starts and Homer says: "Man, the last nine months sure were crazy." Bart responds "I'll say. I learned the true meaning of Columbus Day," and then Marge says "I enjoyed a brief but memorable stint as Sideshow Marge," followed by Lisa who says "I became the most popular girl in school, but blew it by being conceited." Bart then concludes by commenting: "And then I learned the true meaning of winter." Gray wrote in his book that "Here, we are treated to a parody not only of how awkwardly time jumps are proposed, but also of how ultimately irrelevant any sitcom time is — nothing really changes, after all — and finally, of the sort of plots that traditionally fill sitcom time."
Several references to popular culture are featured in the episode. The episode's plot is loosely based on the life of the Dionne quintuplets. The store Shøp is a parody of the Swedish furniture business IKEA, and the name is a reference to the similar business STØR. The three songs played during "Octopia" are "Welcome to the Jungle" by Guns N' Roses, Ride of the Valkyries by Richard Wagner and "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A." by John Mellencamp. Homer's act is set to the song "Danger Zone" by Kenny Loggins. In the octuplets room there is a picture of the character Babar the Elephant dressed as former Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru.
"Eight Misbehavin'" originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on November 21, 1999. On October 7, 2008, it was released on DVD as part of the box set The Simpsons – The Complete Eleventh Season. Staff members Mike Scully, George Meyer, Matt Selman, Julia Thacker, and Steven Dean Moore participated in the DVD audio commentary for the episode, as well as guest voice Garry Marshall. Deleted scenes and concept drawings from the episode were also included on the box set.
The episode has received mixed reviews from critics. While reviewing the eleventh season of The Simpsons, DVD Movie Guide's Colin Jacobson commented that "With such a silly concept, [the episode] probably should flop. However, it actually works pretty well. The best moments come from those that feature the kids at the zoo, but a mix of other amusing scenes emerge. Though the show often threatens to falter, it usually succeeds." Nancy Basile of About.com, on the other hand, listed the episode as one of the worst episodes of the season—the episodes that "made me cringe because they included blatant gimmicks and outlandish plots".
The episode has become study material for sociology courses at University of California Berkeley, where it is used to "examine issues of the production and reception of cultural objects, in this case, a satirical cartoon show", and to figure out what it is "trying to tell audiences about aspects primarily of American society, and, to a lesser extent, about other societies." Homer's quote "Kids are the best, Apu. You can teach them to hate the things you hate. And they practically raise themselves, what with the Internet and all", entered The Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations in August 2007.
- Bates, James W.; Gimple, Scott M.; McCann, Jesse L., Richmond, Ray; Seghers, Christine, ed. (2010). Simpsons World The Ultimate Episode Guide: Seasons 1–20 (1st ed.). Harper Collins Publishers. pp. 534–535. ISBN 978-0-00-738815-8.
- "Simpsons - Eight Misbehavin'". Yahoo!. Retrieved 2011-10-04.
- Jane, Ian (2008-11-01). "The Simpsons - The Complete Eleventh Season". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2011-10-02.
- Jacobson, Colin (2008-11-19). "The Simpsons: The Complete Eleventh Season (1999)". DVD Movie Guide. Retrieved 2011-10-02.
- Gray, Jonathan (2006). Watching with The Simpsons: Television, Parody, and Intertextuality. Taylor & Francis. p. 50. ISBN 978-0-415-36202-3.
- "A store and a star". Quick. 2005-08-03. p. 16.
- Timmerman, Luke (2000-08-08). "A marketing maze that amazes". The Seattle Times. p. B3.
- Basile, Nancy. "'The Simpsons' Season Eleven". About.com. Retrieved 2011-10-02.
- Thomas B. Gold (2008). "The Simpsons Global Mirror" (PDF). University of California Berkeley. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-04-07. Retrieved 2011-07-18.
- Shorto, Russell (2007-08-24). "Simpsons quotes enter new Oxford dictionary". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2008-09-23.
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- "Eight Misbehavin'" at The Simpsons.com
- "Eight Misbehavin'" episode capsule at The Simpsons Archive
- "Eight Misbehavin'" at the Internet Movie Database