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Simpson and Delilah

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"Simpson and Delilah"
The Simpsons episode
Episode no. 15
Directed by Rich Moore
Written by Jon Vitti
Showrunner(s) James L. Brooks
Matt Groening
Sam Simon
Production code 7F02
Original air date October 18, 1990
Chalkboard gag "Tar is not a plaything".[1]
Couch gag The family does a little Egyptian dance.[2]
Commentary Matt Groening
Jon Vitti
Al Jean
James L. Brooks
Guest appearance(s)
Seasons

"Simpson and Delilah" is the second episode of The Simpsons' second season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on October 18, 1990.[3] 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.[2]

Plot[edit]

Homer sees an advertisement for Dimoxinil, a new "miracle breakthrough" for baldness and visits a store that sells the drug, but cannot afford the $1000 cost. Lenny suggests Homer pay for it through the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant medical insurance plan. The druggist says the product is not covered by any medical insurance, but secretly arranges an under-the-table trade. After using the drug, Homer wakes up the next day to a full head of hair and runs through the town blissfully. 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 him for the job.

Homer has trouble finding a good secretary due to all the applications being seductive young women until a man named Karl earnestly persuades Homer to hire him. At an executive board meeting, an unimpressed Mr. Burns suggests Homer to give a suggestion to increase worker productivity. Homer meekly suggests they provide more tartar sauce in the lunch room. Burns sees this a genius plan. Following the board meeting, workplace safety improves and accidents decrease. Smithers remarks that all the past accidents were either caused by Homer or believed to be traced to him. However, Mr. Burns tells him off. Homer forgets his wedding anniversary, but Karl covers by hiring a singing telegram service to serenade Marge with "You Are So Beautiful".

As Homer receives the key to the executive washroom, Smithers feels jealous and later finds the damaging information he seeks in Homer's insurance fraud case. He gleefully informs Mr. Burns that "one of the executives" stole $1,000 worth of the plant's medical insurance. Enraged, Burns orders Smithers to fire the executive. Karl takes the blame and writes the $1000 check to repay the company, forcing Smithers to fire him instead of Homer, who is deeply saddened after all Karl had done for him. Homer is invited to give a speech at the next meeting and is nervous without Karl, but reasons that as long as he has hair, everything will be fine.

At Home, Homer catches Bart using some of the Dimoxinil in a misguided attempt to grow a beatnik beard, causing him to drop the bottle and spill its contents. By the next day, Homer has lost all his hair because the hair formula only lasted as long as it was used. Before the meeting, Karl appears with a pre-written speech for him and reassures Homer he will do fine. He presents a brilliant speech on the Japanese art of self-management, but the audience refuses to take him seriously because he has no hair and leaves, leaving Homer disappointed. Mr. Burns furiously claims he would fire Homer, but reveals he is also a sufferer of male pattern baldness, all the way until the end of college, and demotes him back to his old position.

At home that night, Homer tells Marge he is afraid his children will be disappointed and Marge will no longer love him as much. However, Marge reminds him that his safety inspector job has always brought food to the table and the kids will get over not being spoiled. They then sing "You Are So Beautiful" together.

Production[edit]

Harvey Fierstein voiced Karl, and gave suggestions on the character's appearance

Homer's hair product Dimoxinil is a spoof on a similar product, Minoxidil, which fascinated the writers.[4] After growing hair, the production staff tried to give Homer a new hair design in every scene.[4] 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."[5]

In contrast to Albert Brooks, Dustin Hoffman, and Michael Jackson, who didn't allow their real names to be used (Brooks later did), Fierstein was one of the very few early guest stars who was not embarrassed or reluctant to be associated with the show and welcomed his name in the credits. [4]

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.[6][7] 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.[8]

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.[5]

Cultural references[edit]

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.[2] The scene in which Homer receives the key to the executive washroom is a reference to the movie Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?.[2]

Reception[edit]

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.[9] The supposed "Bill vs. Bart" rivalry had been heavily hyped by the media.[10] 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.[11] "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.[12]

This episode was placed twenty-third on Entertainment Weekly's top 25 The Simpsons episodes list.[13] Harvey Fierstein is number two on TV Guide's "All-time Favorite Guest Voices."[14] The Daily Telegraph characterized the episode as one of "The 10 Best Simpsons TV Episodes."[15] In a 2008 article, Entertainment Weekly named Harvey Fierstein's role as Karl as one of the sixteen best guest appearances on The Simpsons.[6] 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."[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 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. .
  2. ^ a b c d e Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian (2000). "Simpson and Delilah". BBC. Retrieved 2008-07-30. 
  3. ^ "Simpson and Delilah". The Simpsons.com. Retrieved 2011-09-16. 
  4. ^ a b c Jean, Al (2002). Commentary for the episode "Simpson and Delilah". The Simpsons: The Complete Second Season (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  5. ^ a b Ortved, John (2009). The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History. Greystone Books. pp. 248–250. ISBN 978-1-55365-503-9. 
  6. ^ a b "16 great 'Simpsons' guest stars". Entertainment Weekly. 2008-05-11. Retrieved 2008-05-11. 
  7. ^ Tucker, Ken (2000-06-09). "The Big Kiss-Off". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2008-07-30. 
  8. ^ Sadownick, Doug (1991-02-26). "Groening Against the Grain; Maverick Cartoonist Matt Groening Draws in Readers With Gay Characters Akbar and Jeff". Advocate (571). Archived from the original on 2007-09-20. Retrieved 2007-08-08. 
  9. ^ Reiss, Mike (2002). Commentary for the episode "Bart Gets an F". The Simpsons: The Complete Second Season (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  10. ^ Walt Belcher (1990-10-18). "" The Simpsons ,' "Cosby' square off in second round". The Tampa Tribune. p. 6F. 
  11. ^ "Bart vs. Bill results in a split decision!". The Record. 1990-10-23. p. B8. 
  12. ^ Scott D. Pierce (1990-10-18). "Don't have a cow, man! More viewers watch 'The Simpsons' than 'Cosby'!". The Deseret News. p. C5. 
  13. ^ "The Family Dynamic". Entertainment Weekly. 2003-01-29. Retrieved 2008-07-30. 
  14. ^ Jones, Arnold Wayne (2007-05-18). "The Simpsons Turns 400: We Name the Greatest Guests!". TV Guide. Retrieved 2008-07-30. 
  15. ^ Walton, James (2007-07-21). "The 10 Best Simpsons TV Episodes (In Chronological Order)". The Daily Telegraph. p. 3. 

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