In honor of FXX‘s 12-day Simpsons marathon, we here at Pop Culture Spin thought it would be fun to talk about some of our favorite episodes (and characters) from the show’s impressive 25-year catalog.
Up first is contributing writer Hector Diaz‘s favorite episode, “Homer at the Bat.”
“Homer at the Bat” perfectly encapsulates everything the Simpsons were, as well as everything they would become. The story itself is a simple one at its core; Homer is trying his damnedest to be a good contributor for his company’s softball team, while fulfilling all the tropes of a feel-good sports movie (especially with his “magical” Wonderbat). But aside from that, the story is grandiose both in how the narrative is driven and how the episode came to happen behind the scenes.
In the Simpsons universe, the entire reason for the softball team came about was because of a million-dollar bet between Mr. Burns and a casual wealthy nemesis. In order to cheat the system, Burns hires then-current pro baseball players for the power plant so they can participate in the softball team (not before being notified by Mr. Smithers that Burns’ original choice for right fielder has been dead for 130 years). As absurd as that is, it gets even weirder as most of those baseball players succumb to freak incidents and can’t play, save for Darryl Strawberry who plays the same position as Homer. In the end, Homer’s determination pays dividends as he wins the game thanks to a wild pitch.
The episode marked how pivotal the Simpsons were as a cultural powerhouse. They managed to get nine of the top Major League Baseball players to do voice-overs for the episode. While they were not the first guest stars on the show, having so many guests showed how important the Simpsons were at the time. Even now, as the series is nearing a relative twilight to those halcyon days, they still have that cultural pull.
To this day, every time I head to a Dodgers game, I have to scream at Dodgers skipper Don Mattingly, “I THOUGHT I TOLD YOU TO TRIM THOSE SIDEBURNS!
” I’m sure I’m not the only one who playfully mocks him with this 20-year-old quote.
As for my favorite character from the series, it seems almost unpopular to say given the amount of flack this character gets, but my favorite Simpsons character is Lisa Simpson. She has become somewhat of a liberal mouthpiece, but her beginnings are both simple and existential to a certain degree. In “Lisa the Greek,” she is merely trying to connect with her father—which is a situation that most of us encounter—but then finds herself questioning the morality of creating a strong bond through the illegal act of betting on NFL games every Sunday. Lisa finds herself in these situations more often than any character in the series and her conclusions go beyond the series and popular culture—they’re societal issues. She is the show’s moral compass. The world needs more Lisa Simpsons.