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Homer vs. Patty and Selma

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"Homer vs. Patty and Selma"
The Simpsons episode
Episode no. 120
Directed by Mark Kirkland
Written by Brent Forrester
Showrunner(s) David Mirkin
Production code 2F14
Original air date February 26, 1995
Chalkboard gag "I will remember to take my medication".
Couch gag The family is beamed onto the couch the same way the characters are in the original Star Trek series.[1]
Commentary Matt Groening
David Mirkin
Mark Kirkland
David Silverman
Guest appearance(s)

Mel Brooks as Himself
Susan Sarandon as Ballet Teacher

Seasons

"Homer vs. Patty and Selma" is the 17th episode of The Simpsons' sixth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on February 26, 1995. In the episode, Homer loses all his money in pumpkin stocks and must turn to Patty and Selma for a loan. Meanwhile, Bart takes up ballet lessons, and his instructor is voiced by actress Susan Sarandon.

Sarandon had wanted to guest star on The Simpsons because her children were fans of the show; she made a later appearance in the series in the episode "Bart Has Two Mommies" as the voice of a computer. Mel Brooks also makes an appearance in "Homer vs. Patty and Selma", and had previously accompanied his wife Anne Bancroft to the recording studio when she had a role in the episode "Fear of Flying". The episode's script was written by Brent Forrester, and it was his first writing credit on the series. The episode was directed by Mark Kirkland, with David Mirkin serving as executive producer.

Chris Turner cites scenes from the episode in describing Homer's characteristic qualities in his book Planet Simpson: How a Cartoon Masterpiece Documented an Era and Defined a Generation. Turner notes that the episode illustrates Homer's impulsiveness, silliness, and "physical stupidity". Contributor Raja Halwani writes in the compilation work The Simpsons and Philosophy: The D'oh! of Homer that the episode shows Homer's tendency to habitually lie to Marge, and cites Homer's covering for Patty and Selma when they are caught smoking as a positive aspect of his character. The episode received positive mention from Turner in Planet Simpson, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood in their book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, and Colin Jacobson of DVD Movie Guide.

Plot[edit]

Homer decides to invest in pumpkins, but loses his entire investment. Late on a mortgage payment and short on money, he tries to borrow some, but to no avail. Homer keeps his money troubles secret from Marge. Meanwhile, Patty and Selma have received a promotion at the DMV. As a last resort, Homer asks the two if they will lend him the money, and they agree on the condition that he become their loyal servant. Marge finds out about the loan after she sees the IOU note, and her sisters tell her what happened.

Homer decides to become a chauffeur in order to earn more money, but is pulled over when he does not have a chauffeur's license. When he goes to the DMV with Marge to apply for one, Patty and Selma are his evaluators. The two mercilessly fail his driving and written test. The two light up cigarettes and are spotted by their supervisor, who informs them that smoking on the job is an offense which could cost them both their promotions. After being persuaded by Marge, Homer reluctantly covers for them by claiming the cigarettes as his own, thus clearing his debt to Patty and Selma.

In the subplot, Bart cuts school on the day students were choosing their physical education classes. By the time he shows up, the only option left is ballet. Despite being reluctant at first, he soon discovers that he has a talent for the dance form, and is invited to star in a school ballet performance. After his performance, school bullies attempt to beat him up, and he runs away. Bart attempts to escape by jumping a trench, but fails to make it and takes a nasty fall. The bullies leave, while Lisa tells Bart how proud she is of him, that they are now kindred spirits.

Production[edit]

Mel Brooks has a cameo appearance in the episode.

The script for "Homer vs. Patty and Selma" was written by Brent Forrester and was the first time he received a writing credit on The Simpsons.[2] Executive producer David Mirkin describes it as a very grounded and emotional episode that seems very "sitcomy".[2]

Bart's ballet teacher was voiced by Susan Sarandon,[3] and was designed to look a little bit like her.[4] Sarandon had wanted to guest star on the show because her children were big fans; she brought them with her to the recording session.[2] Due to a traffic jam, she was late for the recording session, but once she arrived, she fell into character and worked very hard on getting her accent accurate.[2] Sarandon would later have a cameo appearance as the voice of a computer in the season 17 episode "Bart Has Two Mommies".[5] Mel Brooks has a cameo appearance as himself.[6] His wife Anne Bancroft had played a role in the episode "Fear of Flying" and Brooks had accompanied her to the recording session.[2] David Mirkin realized that Brooks was "dying to do the show" and asked him if he would be willing to do a guest part, and he agreed.[2] Many of the writers were fans of Brooks, and Matt Groening described the chance to have him guest star as "an incredible honor".[7]

The episode was directed by Mark Kirkland who was a fan of the characters, having previously directed the season two episode "Principal Charming", which also focuses on the duo.[4] When directing the sequences where Bart does ballet dancing, Kirkland assigned the scenes to animators who were familiar with dancing.[4]

Themes[edit]

Chris Turner writes in his book Planet Simpson: How a Cartoon Masterpiece Documented an Era and Defined a Generation that the episode illustrates how Homer Simpson is "an organism of considerable complexity".[8] Turner comments, "Homer is carrying the full symbolic weight of twentieth-century America on his shoulders, and no garden-variety doofus could manage that task."[8] Turner discusses a moment from the episode where Marge tells her sisters, "Homer doesn't mean to be rude, he's just a very complicated man", after which Homer breaks a plate over his head and shouts "Wrong!"[8] Turner writes that this "revelatory moment" is illustrative of "several of the best-known aspects of Homer's character: his impulsiveness, his inherent silliness, his evident, even physical stupidity".[8]

In the compilation work The Simpsons and Philosophy: The D'oh! of Homer, edited by William Irwin, Mark T. Conrad, and Aeon J. Skoble, the episode is cited as an example where, as contributor Raja Halwani writes, "Homer is a habitual liar, he lacks honesty."[9] In addition to "lying about his financial losses in investments" in the episode, Halwani notes Homer lied to Marge in "The Front" about "the fact that he never graduated from high school", and in the episode "The Cartridge Family", Homer lied to Marge about getting rid of the gun he had purchased.[9] However, Halwani later highlights positive aspects of Homer's character, noting that in the episode, Homer "pretended he was the one smoking so that Patty and Selma would not get fired for smoking at their workplace".[10]

Reception[edit]

In its original broadcast, "Homer vs. Patty and Selma" finished 38th in ratings for the week of February 20–26, 1995, with a Nielsen rating of 11.1, equivalent to approximately 10.6 million viewing households. It was the third highest-rated show on the Fox network that week, following Beverly Hills, 90210 and Married... with Children.[11]

Chris Turner writes in Planet Simpson that the scene where Homer "smashes a dinner plate over his head" is one of his favorite Homer moments. "I'd like to say it's the defining Homer moment, but that would do a grave injustice to the extraordinary dramatic achievement that is Homer J. Simpson", Turner comments.[8] Writing in I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood said, "Patty and Selma have rarely been more evil than here — they are fabulously cruel."[1] In a review of the sixth season of The Simpsons, Colin Jacobson of DVD Movie Guide writes, "Homer’s disdain for Marge’s sisters – and vice versa – has always led to terrific sparks, and “Vs.” provides another great round in their eternal battle. It’s hilarious to see Homer indebted to the Terrible Two..."[12]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Martyn & Wood 2000
  2. ^ a b c d e f Mirkin, David (2005). Commentary for "Homer vs. Patty and Selma", in The Simpsons: The Complete Sixth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  3. ^ BPI Communications (February 25, 1995). "TV People". St. Petersburg Times. p. 13D. 
  4. ^ a b c Kirkland, Mark (2005). Commentary for "Homer vs. Patty and Selma", in The Simpsons: The Complete Sixth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  5. ^ "Susan Sarandon: Credits". TV Guide. www.tvguide.com. Retrieved 2008-12-05. 
  6. ^ Staff (February 22, 1995). "News and Notes — Brooks, Sarandon Lend Voices to 'The Simpsons'". Daily News of Los Angeles. p. L9. 
  7. ^ Groening, Matt (2005). Commentary for "Homer vs. Patty and Selma", in The Simpsons: The Complete Sixth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  8. ^ a b c d e Turner 2005, p. 96.
  9. ^ a b Irwin, Skoble & Conrad 2001, pp. 11–12
  10. ^ Irwin, Skoble & Conrad 2001, p. 16
  11. ^ Associated Press (March 2, 1995). "NBC keeps Thursday lock and wins". Sun-Sentinel. p. 4E. 
  12. ^ Jacobson, Colin (August 15, 2005). "The Simpsons: The Complete Sixth Season (1994)". DVD Movie Guide. www.dvdmg.com. Retrieved 2008-12-19. 

References[edit]

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