It goes without saying that The Simpsons have touched on just about every topic over their 30 year run. So its natural for them to come back to some of them but in different and unique ways.
In Heartbreak Hotel, The Simpsons does reality TV. Marge, a dedicated fan of the show The Amazing Place, has tried over the years to get on the show but has failed each time. Bart and Lisa step in to get their parents on. When they do get on the couple are eliminated almost instantly and have to stay in the airport hotel until shooting is finished.
It was cool to see Bart and Lisa join forces early on. Its nice when the show allows them to be kids, here meshing their strengths and putting aside their differences to do something they see means a lot to Marge. (Sure, Lisa does most of the work while Bart feeds marshmallows to Santa’s Little Helper, but he views staying out of Lisa’s way as the most helpful thing he can do.)
The meat of the episode however revolves around Homer and Marge’s stay at the hotel.
The “Heartbreak Hotel” parody was quite spot on. Homer sings the praises of foamy pillows, breakfast bagels and a pool where “no lifeguard can see us if we die,” and marvels that the “toilet’s got a phone, yeah, don’t know why.” He convinces Marge to sit back and relax, and soon enough she’s in the weight room revisiting old squats while Homer discovers he can still sit on a yoga ball and drink cucumber water.
The idyllic idealism of hedonistic hotel living comes to a screeching halt when Marge discovers it was Homer who blew the first challenge, not her, and she is actually surprised enough to be angry.
We then get an extended riff on Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?, complete with black-and-white cinematography and a guest shot from George Segal, straight from the 1966 Mike Nichols adaptation of the Edward Albee domestic drama. While this scene was cool it did take me out of the episode somewhat. It was also uncharacteristic of Marge to throw herself at another contestant. I can see what they were going for but it just didn’t quite work for me.
The ending sees Marge get a shot at redemption by quickly choosing another contestant to do a surprise final challenge. They fail because Marge didn’t quite prepare the drinks properly and Marge (in the oft used line of the night) calls herself a noob on live television. Homer then keeps playing that scene back at home writing in the joy of pity.
All in all this was an okay episode that started off promising but never quite reached its potential. It had the necessary components (no long intro and no B story) to really tell a good story but I think they lost their way somewhat with the Virginia Woolf parody.
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