Grampa Simpson is revealed to have been a professional wrestler back in the 50’s, and not just any wrestler: He was one of the most hated heels in the business. Bart is inspired to be awful too, and Abe takes the boy under his granny-wing as his tag-team partner.
“Gorgeous Grampa” is one of those very special episodes that come around just once every few years. One of the episodes where all the planets align to create one of the rare shows where absolutely everything is wrong. Everything is wrong. I’m not going to keep you in suspense to the end of the review to find out my final analysis on it. I’ll tell you up front. This episode is utterly and completely atrocious. By watching this, you will have diminished yourself as a human being. But since it’s my job, let’s exhume the rotting corpse of animated comedy, crack the fucker open and rummage around to see just what the hell happened.
So the episode begins by cutting right to the couch gag in lieu of our usual opening credits. Maybe this show was running long and they just didn’t want to cut a single second from their masterpiece. The couch gag isn’t even much of a gag, it’s a lifeless little Harlem Shake joke. Twenty-six seconds into the episode and I’m already mad.
It’s not because of Harlem Shake overexposure; I had never seen it until now. It’s not even because the iconic Simpsons credit sequence has been altered. I’ll even admit to enjoying the infamous “Tik Tok” credits from Season 21’s “To Surveil With Love.” Yeah, Ke$ha isn’t to everyone’s taste and of course no one knows what P Diddy really feels like when he wakes up in the morning, but it’s a catchy song. The entire credit sequence was redone to the song and it became a unique little music video. This Harlem Shake business lasts, as I said, a mere 26 seconds. There’s not even a joke there. It’s no different than any other Harlem Shake video beyond the fact that it’s the Simpsons characters doing it. It’s not a parody, it’s not making any kind of comment on the fad, nothing. It’s not even a full alternate credits sequence, it’s a pathetic case of an ancient TV show trying to prove how contemporary and relevant they are.
Remember when The Simpsons itself was a pop-cultural touchstone? Remember when they were the ones being referenced? Remember when words like “d’oh,” “cromulent,” and “embiggened” entered the popular lexicon because they were used on The Simpsons? Now the tables have turned and the yellow bastards that were once trailblazers are now limping along behind the curve, much like an old dog with one leg still vainly trying to play fetch.
The fail doesn’t stop with the credits or lack thereof, as we move onto the first of our many plots, an awful Storage Wars parody. Homer encourages Lisa to stop reading books and watch TV instead, and Lisa remarks that it’s not a bad idea since this is the age of well-written, brilliantly acted, intelligent television. Which you are fucking not, Simpsons.
But nope, Homer didn’t mean Game of Thrones, he meant awful reality shows about rednecks doing stupid jobs he’s not even sure are real. That little exchange might be the last good dialogue in the episode. Homer flicks through several reality shows before settling on Storage Wars. If you’ve ever seen an episode of this show ever, you know that Homer is a midly functioning retard and must do whatever he sees.
So we get five minutes of awful, predictable reality programming parody. Yes, these shows do have a lot of harmonica music for some reason! And the redneck hosts like to wear sunglasses too! THIS IS JUST THE LIVING END. And of course, the entire town of Springfield has nothing better to do than to bid on storage lockers. Homer promptly blows a thousand bucks on a locker that turns out to be Grampa’s anyway.
Now we’re on to Awful Plot #2. The family roots through the storage locker and finds perfume spritzers, hand mirrors, a blonde wig and a feather boa, before realizing all this crap belongs to Grandpa. Being the bright light bulbs they are, they all jump to the conclusion that Grampa is gay. Never mind that crossdressing or transgenderism has nothing whatsoever to do with sexual orientation. Grampa could very well like to dress up and feel pretty and still be straight as an arrow.
We waste most of the next act on the Simpsons trying to show how supportive and enlightened they all are by trying to force Abe to “come out of the closet,” going so far as to create a Craigslist profile in his name and set him up with a boyfriend. As if all this wasn’t doing my queer little head in enough, we run into Helen Lovejoy and her transgender cousin. And……..oh boy. Within five minutes, she’s referred to as a he-she, “Stan-Marie,” is drawn super-masculine, and is apparently going for hormone injections.
no I can’t this is it no more please fucking
Okay I’ll warn you right now I’m going to get on my tranny soapbox and blow my stack, so feel free to skip the next paragraph if you don’t want to hear it.
OH MY FUCKING GOD HOW WRONG YOU ARE, SIMPSONS. FIRST OF ALL, “HE-SHE” IS PRETTY GODDAMN HURTFUL AND INSENSITIVE AND I CAN’T THINK OF A SINGLE TRANS WOMAN WHO’D WANT TO BE CALLED THAT OR STAN-MARIE. MOST OF US DON’T LOOK LIKE MASCULINE BEEFCAKES STUFFED INTO A SUN DRESS, WHICH YOU’D KNOW IF YOU BOTHERED TO GIVE A SINGLE SOLITARY SHIT ABOUT EDUCATING YOURSELVES.
HORMONE INJECTIONS ARE USUALLY RESERVED FOR FEMALE-TO-MALE TRANS FOLK, NOT TRANSWOMEN. IT’S POSSIBLE, BUT WE BY AND LARGE JUST CHUG DOWN PILLS EVERY MORNING.
I AM SO SICK OF SEEING THIS KIND OF SHIT NEARLY EVERY TIME THERE IS A TRANS PERSON ON TV. REMEMBER “HOMER’S PHOBIA”? REMEMBER BEING PROGRESSIVE AND HAVING HALF A HEART? WHILE WE’RE USING BROAD, INACCURATE STEREOTYPES, HOW ABOUT WE TURN DR HIBBERT INTO A PRIMITIVE APE-MAN WITH A BONE THROUGH HIS NOSE?
Like guys, seriously, I’m not asking for much here. Just……do your goddamn research for once in your lives. I know this probably sounds like a minority person getting offended over nothing, but this kind of thing is so pervasive in pop culture my patience is pretty much sapped. There’s a lot of humor to be derived from the transition process, so I don’t understand why everyone has to be so mean-spirited and just plain wrong.
Anyway. I feel slightly better.
Grandpa is understandably annoyed that his relatives have tried to set him up with another man without his consent, and reveals that he was once a wrestler under the name Glamorous Godfrey.
Plot #3 involves Mr Burns discovering Grandpa’s identity and blathering on about what a huge fan of his he was; possibly the only fan as Glamorous Godfrey was a much-hated heel. Burns sings a bland little song about how much he enjoys being a cock to everyone around him, and that really, that’s what the audience wants to see.
I have no idea what he’s talking about, I mean, I’ve never been infatuated with the bad boy.
Burns sets up a special revival match where Grampa takes on his old rivals. The crowd of course boos Glamorous Godfrey, but Bart is in awe of his grandfather. I guess because he carries his father’s dive-headlong-into-doing-anything-you-see gene, Bart decides to be a right little asshole towards anyone and everyone in the hopes of becoming a heel like Abe.
Naturally this pisses his friends and family off, along with the audience, since by now we’re getting real tired of this episode’s shit. Despite Homer’s protests, Bart teams up with Abe for a tag team match. Midway through, Grampa casts off the Glamorous Godfrey persona and becomes Honest Abe, a face wrestler, and tells Bart it’s better to be loved than hated.
Unfortunately for the episode, hated is what it will be because every one of is haphazard plots is a misfire. The Harlem Shake is a shameless attempt to be hip on the young kids’ lingo. The Storage Wars parody is predictable and insipid. The Grampa-is-Gay plot is juvenile and offensive. The wrestling plot doesn’t have much to it either. We have the usual gamut of digs at professional wrestling and its fans we’ve all heard fifty thousand times before. I don’t even like wrestling and I’m tired of them. It’s not particularly funny, and even a musical number couldn’t prop it up. Bart’s villainous antics fail to amuse and simply grate on my very last nerve.
Not to mention, at this point we have had so many flashbacks and backstory snippets of all these things Abe has done it’s getting more than a little ridiculous. If everything we’ve been told about his past is true, then he has had the busiest and most interesting life ever. Granted, the same could be said for the other Simpsons, but the difference there is that it’s their show and we usually see it happen in the “present,” not having more and more amazing tales of the past glued on until the timeline looks like it’s loaded with tumors.
The moral of the story shoehorned in at the last second is clumsy and more than a little pat. Instead of explaining to Bart the difference between playing a role and how you behave in the real world, we get the patronizingly simple message that being mean is bad. You don’t say! What an incisive piece of writing.
I have never wished so hard that we had a zero score before, because honestly this piece of garbage doesn’t even deserve the .5 down there. Absolutely nothing works. How this mess ever made it to the screen I’ll never guess, because any self-respecting comedy writer should have thrown it the fuck away. Into the shredder. A shredder that spits the shreddy bits into a furnace. It’s not simply a bad episode, it’s an episode so awful it actively ruins the legacy of the rest of the series just by association.