The saying goes: ‘the truth shall set you free’ but in this day and age, it appears the truth is something to be shunned (look no further than the fallout to the US election). People seem to care more for opinions and stories that confirm their values rather than objective truths. A fairly heavy topic and one that Podcast News tackles head-on. However, The Simpsons have dealt with this before back in season 6’s Homer Badman, one of the classic episodes where Homer was accused of sexual harassment and the media craze to try and prove his guilt without a proper investigation.
Here we have kind of the same idea but more topical. Springfield is obsessed with true crime podcasts and Lisa gets Marge hooked on the popular media. The two attend a live airing while Homer and Bart visit Grandpa who’s found a love interest, Vivienne St. Charmaine (a rich former actress). At the same time, Kent Brockman is sulking about low TV ratings and decides to cover the live podcast airing which, to his surprise, is packed.
When news gets out that Vivienne has fallen overboard from a cruise with Abe, Kent immediately starts an objective podcast to get to the truth called: Guilty Grandpa. The show becomes an instant success with Kent accusing Abe of murder and building up a case against him with little evidence. Grandpa listens to the podcast and becomes convinced that he killed Vivienne. Chief Wiggum places Abe under arrest for spoiling the podcast (he was only on episode 2) and also for murder.
Just when all hope is lost Dr. Hibbert reveals that Abe and Vivienne got a couple’s colonoscopy which included the planting of a tracking device (not creepy at all). The device reveals that Vivienne swam to shore and is still alive but the tracking has since stopped. Brockman, already full of himself from the fame of his podcast, makes the difficult choice to reveal this info to his audience thus ending his podcast.
A solid episode. Not as zany as Homer Badman but with enough momentum to keep it entertaining. Pretty much the entire Simpsons family gets equal screen time which would normally feel disjointed but here it’s in service to the overall plan to help Grandpa, so it feels coherent. The episode also does a good job showing the mania that can happen when disinformation takes hold. It’s a measured portrayal and gives the episode added weight to the message it tries to get across.