Episode 19 - The Real Housewives of Fat Tony
2 May 2011
Synopsis: Selma smarts off to Fat Tony at the DMV so he arranges for her to be killed. However before he can do it he is charmed by her sass and decides to give her liposuction instead. He and the newly thin Selma begin dating and get married. At the wedding Marge feels slighted by the treatment she receives and she and Selma fall out. Fat Tony invites Marge and Homer to visit his house on the Jersey Shore to smooth things over. Meanwhile Lisa discovers that Bart can sniff out buried truffles.
The Good: Several lines were kind of clever like Lisa saying Bart could earn 0.001% interest on his money. Bart whistles and sounding impressed says "That's a lot of zeroes!"
The Bad: The Simpsons is only serving one purpose right now: to showcase just how many mistakes one creative team can make in twenty two minutes.
As usual the writers don't have a story to tell. This begins promisingly enough as the story of Selma falling for yet another man and marries Fat Tony. Really that should have been the whole story but the writers had to keep meddling. There was no need for Marge and Selma to fall out. She and Homer could have gone to visit his Jersey home for any reason. That bickering took the place of what should have been scenes showing us Selma and Fat Tony actually being married. Instead once Homer and Marge arrive in Jersey the real motive of the writers becomes clear as we get a half hearted parody of Jersey Shore while Fat Tony and Selma inevitably break up. Once more I feel insulted that these highly paid writers just mimic whatever show is new on TV rather than write an actual story.
The B plot was as pitifully pointless as you can imagine. Lisa and Bart discover that Bart can smell truffles and that is pretty much it. Out of nowhere Lisa is suddenly acting like a ruthless capitalist and pushing Bart to find truffles when he has lost interest. Then he discovers that instead of selling the truffles she has been eating them. Why you ask? Because vegetarian food sucks. That was her answer and it sold out everything about Lisa as a character. All we know of her suggests that she would have made a vegetarian diet as interesting as she could. To throw that line out there was incredibly cheap and lazy. Lisa is a moral character and at no point in this story did the writers ever bother to show her conflict.
Then there were the little details which undercut everything that was going on. When Selma was initially kidnapped she kept on smoking (through the sack they threw over her) and giggled. Even in a cartoon characters need to have normal emotions and reactions to things. That is what builds the comedy. When Homer and Krusty faced death from the mafia they were afraid and the silliness worked because of it (615). Then you have Homer saying he was looking forward to Fat Tony murdering Selma which was just too extreme a statement. Later on in a real lapse of concentration Homer insults Selma implying that she is unattractive. But he had just spent two scenes ogling her newly sculpted physique. If the writers can't pay attention to their own story then why should we?
The humour was typically poor as well. The writers tended to lean on the "if it's not what you expected then it must be funny" trick which is far from true. So Luigi looks menacingly at his truffle pig and holds up a knife saying that now he has Bart to find truffles he has a new role for the pig. Cut to the pig sharpening knives back in the restaurant. That joke misses the point that the unexpected twist must also be plausible or else it is just nonsense. Why not have the pig be the new chef or waiter if logic doesn't matter? Similarly Marge says Homer is upset by a sports result and we hear him cursing at the result of a game from 1985. Why? Given a tiny reason for why that would still bug him it could have been funny.
Best Joke: A drunken Homer and Marge try to find their room in Fat Tony's house.
M: "Which is our room again?"
H: "You know! It had that painting of that lady and the monster on the ceiling."
M: "That was a mirror!"
The Bottom Line: The really sad part of this episode is that Fat Tony and Selma had a good dynamic. If the writers had just told that story I think it could have been fun.
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