SSR #10: “Homer’s Night Out”

Intro

Introduction:
Last week we had a little trouble in paradise with Marge being tempted by the advances of another man. This week, Homer will have his own little adventures in the adult world, but not without getting sent to the doghouse after the fact. I really hope this is not the start of a pattern for future problems to come for this marriage, but we should probably get started anyway. Homer’s Night Out is the 10th episode of the Simpsons 1st season and was also the tenth episode written for the series, despite being written before Life in the Fast Lane and after a future episode in the season. The chalkboard gag is “I will not call my teacher ‘Hot Cakes,’” probably a wise lesson to learn for the future, and the couch gag is a repeat from earlier in the season when the entire family sits on the couch and it completely collapses under them.

HomerApuApu: “You look familiar sir, are you on the television or something?”
Homer: “Sorry buddy, you got me confused with Fred Flintstone!”

Plot:
This episode actually has a really interesting start, as the story takes place 6 months after the beginning scene. Homer is telling Marge about his new assistant who recently made a fool out of himself at a party in front of a girl he liked. Then, the scene switches to Bart who purchases a miniature spy camera from a mail order catalog. The story then jumps ahead six months to the present day. Homer is telling Marge about a bachelor party he’s going to for his ex-assistant (now supervisor) who is about to marry the same woman he made a fool out of himself in front of. Marge is concerned that the bachelor party is actually a stag party, but Homer assures his wife that it is nothing like that. Meanwhile, after six months of waiting and pestering the female mail carrier, Bart finally receives his spy camera.

Bart proceeds to use the camera in typical kid fashion, by taking pictures of humiliating things like Marge shaving her armpits, a piece of roadkill, and even attempts to snap a shot of his own rear end. Marge announces that they will be going out to eat that night, minus Homer (since he will be at the bachelor party) at the Rusty Barnacle seafood restaurant. Little do they know, the bachelor party Homer is attending is also taking place in one of the private party rooms in the same building. The party is very boring at first, but things start to go wild when a belly-dancer known as Princess Kashmir arrives on the scene and starts to dance on the tabletops. She invites Homer to dance with her and Homer agrees, at first nervous and not really knowing what to do, but then really gets into it and finishes the dance by putting some money in her g-string underwear. During this dance, Bart stumbles away from the family, sneaks into the party room, and takes a picture of his father in act of dancing with the woman.

Bart shows the picture to his friends at school and ends up giving a copy to his two best friends. However, his two friends end up making more copies for their friends, and soon enough, everyone around town has a copy of the picture, including the church reverend, Homer’s boss Mr. Burns, and it gets posted at the gym where Marge conveniently goes to work out. Homer is unaware of the photo’s existence until an angry Marge confronts him about the picture. Homer, at a loss of what to say, gets thrown out of the house by Marge, forcing him to stay at his friend Barney’s apartment. With the exception of Marge’s response though, most of the town is very complimentary towards Homer and his bravery for dancing with a beautiful woman. Even when Mr. Burns confronts Homer about the picture, after scolding him initially for his behavior, he asks Homer for advice on how to attract members of the opposite sex. Unfortunately though, the one and only person he wants to talk about this with is the same woman who threw him out; his wife.

Homer attempts to go home the next morning to talk to Marge. Marge is open with why she is angry and tells Homer that the reason she is mad is because Homer is teaching his son a very bad lesson when it comes to how men should treat women. She wants Homer to take Bart to meet this woman so he can show Bart that Princess Kashmir is more than just a belly dancer, but also a human being with real thoughts, feelings and emotions. They ultimately track her down at a club, but while Princess Kashmir is telling Bart her story, the performance starts and Homer falls on stage. The announcer, other dancers and the entire audience recognize Homer as the man from the photograph, and he is once again encouraged to dance on stage.

Homer starts dancing yet again, but when he sees Bart watching him and smiling, he realizes that he is not doing what he promised his wife he would do and immediately stops and grabs the mic to give a speech about women. While giving his speech, Marge enters the club and listens to Homer’s words. Homer tells the entire club that women are not only people too, but also a very big part of our lives; being not only wives, but also sisters, aunts, nieces, daughters and mothers, and that we should not treat them as objects. He finishes by saying that he would rather be at home in bed with his wife sleeping than shoving money in some dancer’s underwear. The entire club applauds Homer’s speech and Marge runs on stage to reconcile with Homer. The episode fades to credits on the two kissing.

Homer thrown outHomer: “But where will I sleep?”
Marge: “My suggestion is for you to sleep in the filth you created!”
Homer: “Would a motel be okay?”

My Personal History:
I don’t have much to say here. I didn’t get to watch this episode until it came out on DVD. I was interested in seeing the plot and premise as it seemed very different from what I was used to with Simpson’s episodes, but like Life on the Fast Lane, I couldn’t really form a major opinion on it until much later on in life, when it was more relatable to me as an episode plot. It’s still not really that relatable, but more so than it was as a 14-year-old.

Mr Burns“A plant employee carrying on like an oversexed orangutan in heat! This is a family nuclear power plant Simpson. Our research indicate that 50% of our power is used by women. I will not have you offending my customers with your bawdy shenanigans!”
~Mr. Burns

Favorite/Memorable Moments:
I think the beginning part of the episode is great. I love the joke of how Homer’s assistant started out as pathetic as Homer is, but then in six-month’s time, not only did he manage to court and get engaged with the woman he was after, but he also got promoted over Homer while Homer is still just in the same place that he’s always been in. It’s also humorous to see Homer freak out about his weight twice, in the same exact fashion, when over a six month’s time period, he didn’t gain a single pound. And for Homer Simpson, with how much a food glutton he is, it’s honestly not that bad of an accomplishment. The jokes at the restaurant and bachelor party are also pretty good (especially with Bart’s exchanges with the waiter), but after that scene and the first act ends, the episode just kind of takes a very hard left turn, and unfortunately not in a great direction.

I’ll touch on what I didn’t like in the next section, as I’m mainly focusing on the stuff I liked here, but from the end of the first act to the very end of the episode, the only other thing I liked was the ending speech of Homer’s. I liked it because it was a good speech that had a great message, and even featured a little humor in it as well. There’s just something about Homer mentioning “nephews” as a female family title and then immediately retracting it when he realizes what he has said that just cracks me up every single time. But yeah, like I said, it was a good ending with a good message, but I really don’t feel like the message complimented the episode that well. And because I’m kind of getting into it now, perhaps I should move on to the next section first…

Speech“It’s about women, and how they are not mere objects with curves that make us crazy. No, they are our wives, they are our daughters, our sisters, our grandmas, our aunts, our nieces and nephews…well, not our nephews.”
~Homer Simpson

My Review:
There has always been something that has really bothered me about this episode, and after watching it today, I think I finally have my answer for why I feel like this episode kind of misses its mark. First of all, I want to stress that when it comes to women, I am very much in favor of treating them as equals, and any man who goes out of his way to treat them as objects or possessions, is absolute trash. No woman, and for that right, any human being, should be treated in that fashion, and these days I feel like we should be through with that mindset already. We are all equals, and gender and race hierarchies just should not exist. Obviously there are still some individuals who disagree, and let’s be real, there will always be sexism and discrimination regardless of how the times have changed; however, sometimes I feel like there are times when someone tries to push a fight when a battle doesn’t need to be fought, and in this case, I feel like that “someone” is this episode.

What I’m getting at; I don’t really think Homer did anything that wrong here, especially in terms of what Marge is accusing him of. Throughout the entire episode, Homer is actually pretty considerate of how he treats women. He isn’t too forward with women when he’s around them, when he tries to give Mr. Burns advice, he gives very respectful, gentlemanly advice, and you can see and feel that his speech at the end of the episode is genuine and very consistent with how he is throughout the episode. And as far as dancing with all the erotic dancers…I mean, let’s be real here…those dancers are just doing their job and Homer is not going beyond any boundaries that exist in that type of interaction. He’s not grabbing the woman, touching the woman, making any obscene gestures towards the woman…in fact, the woman herself invited Homer on top of the table to dance in the first place, so clearly she didn’t have an issue with him. If anything, she probably picked him because he was the most respectful and least obnoxious at the party, but still someone she could have fun dancing with.

Now, was Bart witnessing the act a bad thing? Sure! And having that picture float around town was probably not the best way to make Homer look like a man of love and respect either, but I’d focus less on the whole “treating women like objects” argument, and focus more on the fact that Homer probably should have just been honest with Marge from the get-go. When he got home from the party, he should have confessed to Marge that there was a dancer that he was unaware of, and that he did dance with her, but it meant nothing to him and he treated her with kindness and respect because that is what Marge would wanted from him. And yeah, he probably shouldn’t have lied and said “the party will be classy,” at the beginning of the episode either, but to his credit, he wasn’t entirely sure at that point. For those actions in particular, yeah, I can understand why Marge would be pissed, but I think she jumped on the “objects” bandwagon a bit prematurely and without enough context. She should have at least listened to Homer’s side of the story first before making any snap judgments.

As far as exotic dancers are concerned, I think there’s a fine line between acceptable behavior and unacceptable behavior. For example (and this is stuff I have been told by women, so I’m not just making this stuff up), some women like being told and shown that they are attractive. Hell, sometimes it can be a bit of motivator and confidence-booster in knowing that they have a side that people find charming. So as long as people are respectful of that, and stick to their boundaries, I don’t really see much of an issue if women are fine with that line of work. However, the moment a man starts to overreach those boundaries, then yes, there is a big problem there, and then you do get into the issue of treating women like objects, which is not ok, or acceptable by any wavelength. I just don’t feel like Homer was anywhere near that point and he gets an incredibly raw deal because of some bad coincidences.

However, this does raise the question though; was that what the writers were going for? Was the point of this episode to show that while Homer isn’t like that, there are many people who are, and those very same people kind of look at Homer like he is some kind of player or superstar, when in reality, Homer doesn’t care about any of that stuff and just wants to be at home with his wife? And because of that, that does actually give Homer’s speech at the end a little more weight, because it’s not about him apologizing for his behavior, but more trying to teach some uninformed minds about how they might be treating women. If that was the angle, I wish they would have spent a heavier focus on that, just because it seems like the episode really tries to force the idea that Homer is a bad guy when he’s really not even close to one.

This is why I can’t say I hate the episode, because it seems like there is some kind of ulterior motive involved with the writing that just doesn’t come out the way I think it should. It really is like Life in the Fast Lane in a lot of respects, but the only difference is, I feel like the writing was a little better in that episode as opposed to this one. Life in the Fast Lane just made me a little uneasy. This episode makes me feel a little less uneasy, but a bit more
frustrated. Frustrated at Homer being misunderstood until the end and frustrated at the way Marge was acting towards her husband. Again, I’m not saying Marge was wrong by being angry, I just think she was wrong by being dismissive and not talking to her husband first, much like in the same way Homer was wrong by not talking honestly to his wife about the party in question.

I feel like I’m being incredibly redundant by this point, so I’ll try to wrap it up here. The episode does have some good jokes and some good merits. I just think the middle acts should have been differently focused and differently structured. It’s almost like it should have been two separate episodes; one episode focused on Marge finding out about the party Homer lied about and then them trying to reconcile, and an entirely, unrelated episode involving the topic of “treating women like objects,” where Homer is the voice of reason at the end. By having these two plots condensed into one, it kind of messes with what should be the main focus here and tries to resolve both conflicts at once, when Marge and Homer’s issue is a much different one entirely. It’s definitely not one of the worst episodes of all time, but it is probably in the bottom tier of episodes from Season 1, at least in my opinion.

———————————————-

Do we really only have three episodes left of Season 1? I think we do! Thankfully this one didn’t take too long to write, even though I felt like I rambled on like mad at the end there. Sometimes it can be really difficult to talk about this kind of stuff, just because of the world we live in and with the many different viewpoints that can exist out there. Especially when it comes to topics about gender, race and all of those other things that could be seen as controversial viewpoints. I don’t “think” my viewpoints are controversial, as I am someone who tries to see things from all angles before I make my own opinion, but being a white male, I don’t exactly have the same experiences that others would have either. I personally see the world as a place where we all exist and we all deserve the same rights and freedoms (unless we lose those freedoms by doing something stupid like committing a felony or something), so there is no reason to discriminate or treat others that they are less than another. But I digress, I’m sure you don’t see me as a sexist or racist, so I’ll leave it at that and leave it alone until it’s relevant again (which knowing this series, will probably be sooner than you think). I’ll see you guys next week (hopefully) for another retrospective!

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