Rednecks and Broomsticks
"Rednecks and Broomsticks" is the seventh episode of the twenty-first season of the American animated television series The Simpsons. It aired on the Fox network in the United States on November 29, 2009. In the episode, Lisa befriends three teenaged Wiccans after getting lost in the woods during a game of hide-and-seek, and must clear her new friends' names when they are accused of cursing the townspeople with their supposed witchcraft. Meanwhile, Homer befriends Cletus after learning that he and his friends make their own moonshine.
The episode was written by Kevin Curran, and directed by Bob Anderson and Rob Oliver. In its original airing, the episode had an estimated 9 million viewers and received a Nielsen rating of 4.2/10. The episode also received positive reviews from critics.
The Simpson family becomes helplessly stuck in traffic while returning from a ski vacation (causing much complaining from Homer) To pass the time, Bart, Lisa and Maggie spend hours playing the repetitive and noisy game "Bonk-It", much to Marge & Homer's annoyance. Homer loses his patience and throws the toy out the window, where it is crushed by passing vehicles. By a twist of fate, another father throws his children's Bonk-It out of a car window, and it lands in the hands of the Simpson children. Eventually the batteries run out, but Bart plugs the toy in to the car's cigarette lighter, causing it to play even faster. His patience long-gone, Homer smashes the Bonk-It with his foot, but it becomes lodged under the brake pedal. He loses control of the vehicle, hits a deer reminiscent of Bambi and ends up on a frozen lake, where a mysterious person drags them out (with Homer muttering the words "pull it, twist it, smack it, bonk it," from the repetitive Bonk-It game in his sleep.) When the family wakes up, they discover that the mysterious person who saved them was Cletus. Cletus tells Homer about moonshine, and invites him to taste the latest batch. Homer impresses Cletus and his hillbilly friends with his moonshine-tasting skills and is invited to be the judge of a moonshine competition.
Meanwhile, Bart and Cletus's sons play with a box of grenades Cletus's wife Brandine (a former soldier) brought back from Iraq, and Lisa plays hide and seek with Cletus's daughters. But they do not find her as she hides too well (plus the two hillbilly girls cannot count) and Lisa gets lost in the woods. Trying to find her way back, she encounters three girls who are Wiccans, practicing their full moon Esbat. Lisa is initially skeptical of their ability to cast spells, but becomes interested after she happens to mention in the witches' Circle that she wishes she did not have to hand in her unfinished art project, and her wish then comes true when Miss Hoover is taken ill with a stomach virus. The girls ask Lisa to join their coven, which she accepts. But on the night of Lisa's induction, Chief Wiggam turns up after being tipped off by Ned Flanders (who saw Lisa looking at a Wiccan website - Wiccapedia) and arrests the three girls on suspicion of witchcraft. Outside the courtroom, the girls say a chant, asking their goddess to 'show their persecutors that they are blind'. Many of the townspeople then suddenly become blind, and blame the three girls, who are then put on trial. When the judge dismisses the case, the townspeople decide to take the law in to their own hands, and wish to drown the girls in an impromptu witch trial. Lisa, however, proves that the real culprits behind the town's temporary blindness are Homer and his friends, who threw their moonshine in to the town's reservoir after thinking that they were about to be arrested by the police. The girls are released, and Homer entertains himself by using the witch-dunking chair to binge drink the moonshine water, but falls off the chair into the river.
The episode ends with Lisa ice-skating on the frozen river to the song Season of the Witch (Her skates carve a hole in the ice that frees Homer.)
The title refers to the 1971 Disney film Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Neve Campbell (who is a guest star in this episode) is also famous for starring in The Craft, a film with a similar theme to this episode. The way Cletus takes the family out of the frozen lake is similar to Deliverance and Misery. Also the sequence with Homer and Cletus looking for moonshine with four different screens is a parody of Sideways. The Bonk-It toy is a parody of the Bop It toy. On the Wiccapedia home page, one link says Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The last scene in the episode of Lisa figure skating on the frozen water is also reminiscent of the final scene in the film To Die For.
In its original American broadcast, "Rednecks and Broomsticks" was viewed by an estimated 9.02 million households and received a 4.2 Nielsen rating/10% share in the 18–49 demographic rising 27% from last weeks episode. It was the most-watched show out of the four shows on Fox's "Animation Domination" line-up, but the second highest rated show of Animation Domination after Family Guy. The show was also the fourth most watched show on Fox that week after House, The OT, and Bones while being fourth in the Adults 18–49 viewing for the week after House, The OT, and Family Guy.
Robert Canning of IGN stated in his review "In the end, for all the small bits the worked -- Moleman operating on himself, Moe and the angry mob -- "Rednecks and Broomsticks" was just too bland to be worthwhile.". Todd VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club gave the episode A- praising the Sideways parody saying "a.) arose naturally from the story and b.) was all about moonshine, which is never not funny.". Ariel Ponywether of FireFox gave the episode a B- saying "Mildly amusing, but not with the verve the show’s been displaying this season in general, and arguably the second-worst episode this season after “Homer the Whopper” – not a condemnation, but not a recommendation either."
- Canning, Robert (November 30, 2009). "The Simpsons: "Rednecks and Broomsticks" Review". IGN. Retrieved 2010-06-30.
- Ponywether, Ariel (November 30, 2009). "Review -- The Simpsons: "Rednecks and Broomsticks"". FireFox. Retrieved 2010-07-31.
- Gorman, Bill. "TV Ratings Sunday: Of Course Football Wins; Fox Animation Bounces Back; ABC Slumps". TV by the Numbers.
- Seidman, Robert. "TV Ratings: Sunday Night Football Big Bang, Dancing With the Stars and NCIS top weekly broadcast charts". TV by the Numbers.
- VanDerWerff, Todd (November 30, 2009). ""Rednecks and Broomsticks"/"From Bed to Worse"/"Dog Gone"/"G-String Circus"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2010-06-30.