Simpsons Top 100 Episodes ~ #75


Season 12 – Episode 9 (Airdate: January 7, 2001)

An emmy-winning episode, I have a certain fondness for Homr. I approve of the character shift in Homer and what he attempted to achieve as a smart person. As his intelligence increased, he could relate to Lisa and her struggles with fitting in, and being happy. The first act is a bit run-of-the-mill involving a few overly dumb Homer moments. Homer volunteering for the motion-capture technology demonstration is funny. I particularly like the medical research skit. This lead-up satisfactorily lays the foundations for the better second half. After discovering he has a crayon lodged in his brain – which is the daft reason for his lack of intelligence – he volunteers to have it removed (to “increase his killing power”), his IQ suddenly increases and thus goes about the world with this newly-enlightened perspective. Far-fetched?

The writers are sensitive in their approach to the new smart Homer and the plot doesn’t get too caught up in implausible adventures. His theory against the existence of God, which he reveals to Ned Flanders of all people, is a tongue-in-cheek swipe at religion. Making him smarter actually makes him sweeter, and more aware, but less funny and likeable. As Homer feels like more of an outcast, he finds a connection with Lisa. It’s a good Father-Daughter moment when she empathizes with him about the burdens of being a brainiac.

The plot twist predictably runs its course and Homer is unsurprisingly confused, unhappy, alienated, and wants to return to his normal state (smart move) – by asking Moe to perform crayon surgery on him. It’s a fantastical episode which probably would not have held up if it wasn’t for the poignant end to the episode. Before Homer has the procedure to turn him back to normal, he writes a sweet letter to Lisa: “I’m taking the coward’s way out. But before I do, I just wanted to say being smart made me appreciate just how amazing you really are.” So what’s established in Homr is that with intelligence comes less happiness. But no one would trade an ignorant Homer for a humourless one. Now, who wants lottery tickets?!