Take My Wife, Sleaze
"Take My Wife, Sleaze" is the eighth 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 28, 1999. In the episode, Homer wins a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and starts his own outlaw motorcycle club, naming it "Hell's Satans". However, this attracts the real club called "Hell's Satans" to crash at their house. After a while, they begin to appreciate Marge, who takes care of them, and kidnap her. Homer tracks them down and scuffles with Meathook, the leader of the gang. The episode was written by John Swartzwelder and directed by Neil Affleck, and features several guest appearances.
After viewing an advertisement on TV, the family visits the 1950s-themed Greasers Cafe where Homer and Marge win a dancing contest. Their prize is a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, awarded by "Wolfguy Jack" just 3 days before the restaurant goes out of business. After Bart educates Homer on riding a motorcycle (which Homer enjoys), he forms an outlaw motorcycle club named the Hell's Satans with Moe, Lenny, Carl, and even Ned Flanders, even though Ned rides a bicycle, Lenny rides a lawnmower, and Moe's motorcycle is old. They get in trouble all across Springfield, until Homer is confronted by another outlaw motorcycle club named the Hell's Satans, which are based in Bakersfield.
The true Hell's Satans arrive and punish Homer, by forcing him to eat all his Hell's Satans apparel, for using their name. Then the group—led by two men named Meathook and Ramrod—start living at the Simpson house, generally being destructive and intimidating the Simpson family. Fortunately, Marge is able to clean up after the gang and take care of them, which they come to appreciate. One day, the Hell's Satans leave — and take Marge with them, later assuring her she is safe because none of them find her sexually attractive (Marge is first surprised because she thought Ramrod was attracted to her, then both relieved and saddened she is not desired by the gang). Homer goes after them, and tracks the Hell's Satans — and Marge — to a campsite. After a fight with Meathook, Homer wins back Marge. The two of them say goodbye to the gang, who plan to take advice given to them by Marge and find normal jobs. Homer returns with Marge to a biker bar where he had earlier been repeatedly beaten up, and leaves with a Duff keg.
Production and themes
"Take My Wife, Sleaze" was written by John Swartzwelder and directed by Neil Affleck as part of the eleventh season of The Simpsons (1999–2000). Guest starring in the episode were John Goodman as Meathook, Henry Winkler as Ramrod, Jay North as himself, NRBQ as themselves, and Jan Hooks as Manjula. NRBQ drummer Tom Ardolino said in an interview before "Take My Wife, Sleaze" aired that the band's appearance is "real quick. We're in a bar that Homer goes in looking for Marge. We're the band playing in the bar." Bass player Joey Spampinato commented, "We got to sit around the table when they read the script and it was pretty funny stuff." In addition to appearing in the episode, NRBQ performed the Simpsons theme music over the closing credits. Executive producer Mike Scully considers NRBQ to be one of his favorite bands, and their songs had already been used in three episodes of the show that aired not long before this episode was produced.
The name of Homer's gang, the Hell's Satans, is a reference to the real-life motorcycle gang and organized crime syndicate Hells Angels. Authors Paul Broughton and Linda Walker analyzed the episode in their 2009 book Motorcycling and Leisure: Understanding the Recreational PTW Rider, writing: "This episode feeds on the stereotypical image of riders, for example, Homer says: 'Yeah, that's the life for me, Marge. Cruising and hassling shopkeepers.' The outlaw image is further reinforced within this episode when another group of bikers, also called the Hells Satans, take offence at Homer using the name. This gang act in a stereotypical gang manner, wrecking Homer's house and kidnapping his wife. The fact that an iconic cartoon series can use such stereotypical images of riders to good effect demonstrates how much the negative rider image is ingrained within society."
Other references to popular culture include to the 1938 film The Adventures of Robin Hood. Homer's motorcycle sword fight with Meathook parodies the ending sword fight between Robin and Guy of Gisbourne in the film. Wolfguy Jack is a parody of radio host Wolfman Jack; his girlfriend resembles Debbie from the film American Graffiti.
The episode originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on November 28, 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, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Julia Thacker, Dan Castellaneta, and Neil Affleck participated in the DVD audio commentary for the episode. Deleted scenes from the episode were also included on the box set. While reviewing the eleventh season of The Simpsons, DVD Movie Guide's Colin Jacobson commented: "Should we blame ['Take My Wife, Sleaze'] for the movie Wild Hogs? Maybe not, but the episode doesn’t do a lot to rise above the level of that John Travolta mediocrity. I like guest stars Henry Winkler and John Goodman, so the episode’s not a loss, but it’s not a winner either."
- Bates, James W.; Gimple, Scott M.; McCann, Jesse L.; Richmond, Ray; Seghers, Christine, eds. (2010). Simpsons World The Ultimate Episode Guide: Seasons 1–20 (1st ed.). Harper Collins Publishers. pp. 536–537. ISBN 978-0-00-738815-8.
- "Simpsons - Take My Wife, Sleaze". Yahoo!. Retrieved 2011-10-05.
- "The Simpsons Episode: 'Take My Wife, Sleaze'". TV Guide. Retrieved 2011-10-05.
- 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.
- Wirt, John (1999-10-29). "NRBQ road warriors celebrate 30 years". The Advocate.
- McLennan, Scott (1999-10-07). "Quirky NRBQ defies definition and thrives on eccentricities". Worcester Telegram & Gazette. p. C5.
- "Cries & whispers too interesting to ignore". Union-News. 1999-12-09. p. A02.
- "Holmes: More than candy in store this week". Athens Banner-Herald. 1999-10-28.
- Waltonen, Karma; Vernay, Denise Du (2010). The Simpsons in the Classroom: Embiggening the Learning Experience with the Wisdom of Springfield. McFarland. p. 256. ISBN 978-0-7864-4490-8.
- Broughton, Paul; Walker, Linda (2009). Motorcycling and Leisure: Understanding the Recreational PTW Rider. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. pp. 66–67. ISBN 978-0-7546-7501-3.
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