"Flaming Moe" is the eleventh episode of The Simpsons' twenty second season and aired on January 16, 2011 on the Fox Network. It follows the efforts of Waylon Smithers to earn Mr. Burns' respect by turning Moe's Tavern into a successful gay bar, leading Moe to become more popular as a gay man than Smithers. Meanwhile, Principal Skinner looks for love with the substitute music teacher.
Waylon Smithers learns that he is not included in Mr. Burns' will. When he confronts Burns, he tells Smithers he only respects "self-made men". Dejected, Smithers tries to cheer himself up by going to "The League of Extra Horny Gentlemen", a gay bar, but is denied entrance because he is not as attractive or fashionable as the rest of the clientele. Stopping by Moe's Tavern instead, he notices how slow business is and proposes to Moe that they refurbish his bar and make it into a gay bar, with the encouragement of other gays who were not accepted into the other lookist bar. Smithers hopes to earn Mr. Burns' respect by building a successful business in addition to having a place in which he can feel accepted. They turn Moe's into an ultra-trendy gay bar called Mo's. Mo's new patrons come to believe that Moe too is gay, a misconception he encourages for fear of losing their business. He becomes more popular than Smithers, so popular with the local gay community that they push Moe to run for the city council to become the first "openly gay" council member.
Smithers attempts to "out" Moe as straight while Moe is announcing his candidacy by demanding that Moe kiss him. Puckering his lips, Moe leans into Smithers, but at the last minute cannot and announces that he was lying. Moe asks for forgiveness and hopes that they understand his need to be accepted. The crowd is nevertheless disheartened and angry, and leaves. Before Moe leaves, he grabs Smithers and kisses him, afterward saying "Like frisbee golf, I'm glad I tried it once". The credits end as Mo's is renovated back to the old Moe's Tavern again.
Meanwhile, Principal Skinner tries to date the substitute music teacher, Calliope Juniper (Kristen Wiig), and sets her daughter Melody (Alyson Hannigan) up with Bart as an excuse to spend time with her. Even though Melody idolizes Bart, he cannot stand her and eventually breaks up with her. Ms. Juniper quits her job and she and Melody move out of town. She asks Skinner to come with them and he accepts. He returns three months later, saddened by the end of the relationship but content that he was able to maintain it for as long as he did.
"Flaming Moe" was written by Matt Selman and was directed by Chuck Sheetz, both their first credit for the season. The episode also featured guest appearances by actress Alyson Hannigan, actress and comedian Kristen Wiig, and comedian Scott Thompson reprising his role as Grady from "Three Gays of the Condo".
- Moe's run for office is a homage to the plot of the film Milk.
- Moe's chihuahua is called Neil Patrick Hairless, a parody name of Neil Patrick Harris, who worked with guest star Alyson Hannigan on the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother.
- The sketch that Moe puts up in the bar by "Tom of Shelbyville" is a reference to Tom of Finland's gay artwork.
- The title is in reference to an episode of the third season of The Simpsons named "Flaming Moe's", wherein Moe also renovated his bar and drummed up business using a drink called the Flaming Moe.
- During Mr. Burns' dementia in which he imagines himself riding on a dinosaur, it is shown that Burns envisions himself in Winsor McCay's 1914 animated short Gertie the Dinosaur, in place of the film's original human character (which was a representation of McCay himself).
- The painting that hides Mr. Burns' safe is a parody of Édouard Manet's piece A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, with Burns in place of the woman.
In its original American broadcast, "Flaming Moe" was viewed by an estimated 6.38 million households and received a 3.1 rating/8% share among adults between the ages of 18 and 49 ranking third in its timeslot. The episode received a significant drop from the previous episode due to no NFL game overrun airing on Fox.
Rowan Kaiser of The A.V Club called it a "strong episode", writing "this was a very good episode of The Simpsons. The guest stars added instead of subtracting, it had a gently satirical inverse of gay panic jokes, and it was pretty damn funny." He ultimately gave the episode a B+, the highest rating of the night, beating Bob's Burgers, American Dad!, Family Guy and The Cleveland Show.
- The Simpsons – Episode Guide – MSN TV
- "Schedule (January 9 – January 15)". FoxFlash. Retrieved December 20, 2010.
- "Flaming Moe". Fox. Retrieved January 16, 2011.
- Kaiser, Rowan. ""Fart-break Hotel"/"Flaming Moe"/"Crawl Space"/"And I'm Joyce Kinney"/"How Do You Solve A Problem Like Roberta?" | Fox animation | TV Club | TV". The A.V. Club. Retrieved January 17, 2011.
- Gorman, Bill. "Sunday Final Ratings: ‘Brothers & Sisters, ‘Bob's Burgers Adjusted Down; Plus ‘Golden Globes, ‘Undercover Boss, ‘CSI:Miami & More". TV By the Numbers. Retrieved January 19, 2011.