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Worldly Distractions: The Simpsons 26.13 - Walking Big and Tall





Whatever could our favourite family be surprised about? No, seriously, it's been 26 seasons, nothing could shock them now. Maybe someone wrote a decent episode.

Ralph Wiggum is Cupid! Unfortunately, there are no other opening credits to speak of. The couch gag involves the Simpsons being made into Sushi, then eaten in a trendy restaurant.

For some reason, we go back to thirty years ago, where we hear a report on the disappearance of Springfield's Soviet sister city, Springograd. I would laugh if it wasn't entirely plausible. We meet Hans Moleman, then a four-time mayor and full of vitality. In fact, he seems to be the ideal man for rallying the town. Homer and Marge and their families are, of course, in the front row, and we watch them grow up/age as the town sings Springfield's anthem. It ends in the present-day, with mayor Quimby leading his citizens in the same song. However, Moe bursts in with bad news. On a recent trip to Tuscaloosa, he discovered that their song was suspiciously similar. In case you're wondering, that's what everyone's shocked at. Everyone assumes the Alabaman town plagiarized, and they go on the warpath. It also turns out that every city around the planet has been using it. Moleman reluctantly admits he stole the tune.

Everyone is horrified, especially Groundskeeper Willie, who has a tattoo of the song on his chest. Moleman is ridden out of town. Lisa, ever one to stand up for her town, suggests that she write the song. Pharrell Williams also appears for no reason to help out. Oh boy. Another celebrity guest star with no purpose. I'm thrilled.

The mayor turns him down, we get our requisite two lines of "Happy", and Pharrell is exiled to Shelbyville, complete with hat. Nice seeing you, buddy.

Back in Evergreen Terrace, Lisa struggles to write the songs, helped with obscene suggestions from Bart. "Lisa It's Your Birthday" is brought up and heavily discussed, because the writers like to torture us with memories of former greatness. Lisa invites Bart to help her, a joke is forced too far, and a musical team is born.

With a lot off effort, the new Springfield Anthem takes shape. A grand premiere is held, along with more Homer is fat jokes. The song is cynical in an 80's British pop way, mostly focusing on how Springfield is "meh". Some stuff is okay, and it's not a terrible place to leave, so - "Springfield, Why Not?"

The crowd is won over, and the kids involved are very pleased with themselves. Another Homer-is-fat joke, this one extended Family Guy style. He winds up wrecking the theatre and humiliating himself in front of the whole town. Marge despairs at this latest escapade and encourages him to lose weight. Her suggestion - Over-Eaters Anonymous. Gee, Homer does a twelve-step, never seen that one before.

At the community centre, Homer passes by various other twelve-step groups, all of which seem to curiously overlap. However, to his surprise, the group is not about losing weight and controlling food intake - it's about something called "Wide Pride". That's right - Homer has joined a Fat Acceptance group. He happily sits down with the group to eat the most disgusting snacks imaginable, and hey, it looks kind of fun.

One thing about this episode - they really have the tendency to drive every joke into the ground, sometimes simply repeating the punchline a couple of times. WE GOT IT THE FIRST TIME, PEOPLE.

Some character voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson, so pretty much Kevin Michael Richardson, tells Homer that they're all about beauty at any size. That night, Homer excitedly tells Marge that the group changed his life. Of course, she gets entirely the wrong impression. Homer crushes her dreams pretty handily. I think it's his greatest talent.

So Homer begins his new fat-and-happy life. He apologizes to the bathroom scale for throwing it. He polices everyone's language. Moe joins in on the proud-to-be-ugly bandwagon, and everyone gets a little more sensitive. Homer joins a protest with his new friends, at a store which prioritizes thin models. (It's run by Julio from "Three Gays of the Condo", by the way - one of the best episodes from the second half of the show's run.) Chief Wiggum even switches sides when Kevin Michael Richardson (okay, okay, the character is Albert) explains their principles. They all wind up arrested. Yes, even the Chief and the Judge.

Marge bails him out, then lectures the group on their somewhat debateable ideas. She tearfully asks Homer to choose between her and the group. Surprisingly, he chooses the group. Marge is pretty depressed about it, so Bart and Lisa write another god-awful song for her. The Big is Beautiful group starts a revolution. Marge decides to use the song to defeat them. The trouble is, Bart and Lisa haven't actually finished the song - they've been too busy fighting. Yeah, I had trouble following this, too. Marge apologizes to Homer for controlling him, Homer tells her that her care for him has saved him - though he still supports Albert and his principles. Albert stands up off his scooter to tell Marge where to stick it, whereupon he promptly dies of a heart attack.

Everyone attends the funeral, which is full of fat jokes. Homer flips out when he realizes that Albert was only twenty-three, and swears off the group. On the walk home, he and Marge reaffirm their love for each other. He also decides to keep yo-yo dieting for the rest of his life. We see the results of this over the years, finally finishing with an elderly - and SUPER fit - Homer.

The tag scene consists of Moleman riding through the desert backwards on a mule.

Yeah, this was putrid. Not very funny or insightful, with the same stereotypes thrown around and the same jokes repeated over and over. (The only one I liked was the endless list of names you could no longer use - a nice jab at Internet social justice taken a little too far.) The writers don't let jokes land anymore - they have to hammer them in. It's annoying and a mere shadow of what The Simpsons once was. You guys, I can hardly stand this show anymore. It's tired. Can't we give it a chance to sleep? Perchance to dream...

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