Season 31, Episode 15

It’s too much to ask current day Simpsons to churn out back to back really good episodes. Fresh off the heels of the amazing Bart The Bad Guy we get Screenless, a mostly forgettable episode though not an entirely bad one.

Which is a bit of a shame because we get a good cameo performance from Werner Herzog who plays a nefarious doctor at a Rehab Clinic for phone/screen addiction. His commitment to the parts he plays is always top notch and even here in his limited role he steals the scenes he’s in.

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Screenless is also victim of the writers abandoning one story for another. It starts off with the family, mostly Marge, trying to teach Maggie sign language. When Maggie finally starts to learn a bit Marge tells the family but they’re all stuck on their phones. The episode then drops the sign language story and follows a story about phone/screen addiction. The Maggie story was pretty decent and I thought they could have done more with it but alas, a missed opportunity to give Maggie some ‘screen time’, if you will.

The twist in the second half is that Marge is the one addicted to her phone and so she goes to rehab under the care of the aforementioned Herzog. Each of the other family members gets their own little side quests as well sans phone; Homer gets good at crossword puzzles, Bart rediscovers his imagination and Lisa likewise rediscovers her love of the library. In a longer form each of these could be a decent story but the episode decided on quick snapshots which left a lot to be desired.

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Which basically sums up this entire episode, a tale of two halves where the first is a pretty focused story and the second is one idea broken up into a million pieces. I would’ve preferred the Maggie story because we don’t get a lot of those and up until it got dropped, looked promising.

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