The Simpsons, Season Six, Episode Three, “Another Simpsons Clip Show”

This is my favourite clip show of all time. Low bar, I know, but I actually like it even more than the clip show parodies seen in shows like Clerks: The Animated Series, Community, and Rick & Morty (in fact, Dan Harmon is kind of beating the concept into the ground), even though it’s a real clip show. There are roots of the self-aware humour that would come to define those parodies – “Thank goodness I drove down that ironic street!” is great, but I love “It was an unusually warm February 14th, so the children walked home without jackets,” – but I think the most important aspect for me is how it centered itself around a theme. Most clip shows don’t make an effort beyond “here is a bunch of stuff that happened”, and so parodies usually centre themselves around that conceit. This episode not only draws on the concept of romance, plucking out a recurring idea in the way I normally do here, it has the characters actively choose to do that to accomplish a goal; Marge is trying to make the kids less cynical about romance. This is a story, with actions, consequences, peaks, and valleys (which leads to my favourite Act Two “All Hope Is Lost” ending ever, with the family just sitting around looking sad); it feels like a larger-than-life version of so many conversations I’ve had with my own family, and that’s something rare enough to be special to me.

It even makes some of the clips even funnier. This is four distinct perspectives on the same issue; it doesn’t matter that we’ve seen Homer kissing Ned before because it’s funny that his mind jumps there when Marge asks him to think about romantic moments in his life; the same thing extends to the serious elements, when Lisa quips “That seems like a detached tale of modern alienation,” summarising the show as a whole; I suppose that’s really why this clip show works so well for me, because it acts as a summary of this show’s worldview, that the kind of romance sold to us by Hollywood and Hallmark doesn’t exist (which is, itself, a subset of its view that the idealised version of everything sold to us doesn’t really exist). This makes it all the more powerful when it reminds us that there is a romance on this story that works, and keeps working, with the couple at the centre of our show: Homer and Marge. It can work, even if it isn’t the traditional understanding of romance. Taking it one step further, I suppose I like this because it rewards the viewer for doing exactly what I do here – to think over what this show has to say, to take its points seriously. This show doesn’t just supply us with enough quotes to form its own language, it rewards us for thinking critically, for being able to connect the dots across episodes. This is a TV show that wants us to care, even if it’s just a clip show.

Chalkboard Gag: I will not use abbrev.
Couch Gag: The family are crushed by the Monty Python foot.

This episode was written by Penny Wise (which is Jon Vitti’s pseudonym) and directed by David Silverman, and of course many smaller sections are pieced together from old episodes as a joke.

There are fifteen clips, not counting the three montages.

The family drop references to Ren & Stimpy. Marge reads The Bridges of Madison County at the start of the episode.

Iconic Moments: None!
Biggest Laugh: 4AiXzf814AiXzf82

2nd Anniversary Thoughts

I’ve now been doing this series for two years. Last year, we moved to a more permanent site than a bunch of Disqus pages. Some voices have vanished in that time; others have risen up. My life, too, has taken a strange and difficult path. Through it all, this series has remained a source of stability for me, a yardstick for personal growth, as a writer and as a person. Thank you all, once again, for reading and commenting, and making it into a communal experience. I consider it a point of the show’s quality that it brings intelligent, sophisticated people together like this so we can all quote this show to death a thousand times more. Now let’s all go out for some frosty chocolate milkshakes!