Have you fantasized about seeing Marge Simpson in a sex swing – or, as Homer calls it, a “dingle swing?” Then this episode comes oh-so-close for you. I hope you’re satisfied instead with seeing a fully clothed Homer get stuck in a bottomless chair.
“What Animated Women Want” is a Simpsons version of Love, American Style, combining two very sitcom-ish stories in which male characters flail about trying to understand the other gender – with their different brains and such – and end up where they started. After Ms. Krabappel shows A Streetcar Named Desire to her elementary-school class (Martin Prince: “Why doesn’t Blanche go for that delightful Karl Malden?”), Milhouse emulates Marlon Brando as a leather-jacketed Stanley Kowalski, ordering Lisa to get him cartons of milk and abandoning her in the woods during a nature walk. Uncharacteristically, Lisa is drawn to this bad-boy persona. Too bad that Milhouse is then visited by apparitions of Brando in his fat old age, when he’s not much of a guide to romantic behavior. By episode’s end, he’s on an equal footing with Lisa; the next time he appears, he’ll undoubtedly be terrified of her.
Meanwhile, Marge again declares her disappointment with Homer as a husband, and he goes through various plans to win her back (such as checking off chores on a six-year-old “to do” list) before going Fifty Shades Of Gray and building a “snuggle dungeon” in the garage with S&M toys. Well, light S&M at best, since nothing drawn on The Simpsons looks very sharp. (I was reminded of the “comfy chair” instruments of torture in Monty Python’s “Spanish Inquisition” sketch.) Marge reveals that something in the room turns her on, but we’re left to figure that out for ourselves.
This is a scattershot episode with a lot of pop-culture references but little comic momentum. A female narrator who provides superfluous commentary (talking about the “herstory” of “planet Herth”) made me think of Desperate Housewives, but she’s probably a parody of something more recent than that. Wanda Sykes and George Takei are on hand to voice a sassy guidance counselor and an imperious sushi chef, respectively. Unlike some other recent celebrity guests, they have more than a couple of lines each, though probably not enough for Emmy consideration. The big pay-off for their characters is that we see them in bed together, in a scene that doesn’t go anywhere.
Marge supplies the episode’s moral when she goes back to tolerating Homer’s behavior, reasoning, “I realized that, no matter what, you will never stop trying. And there’s nothing a woman loves more than that.” A little meta, perhaps, since it justifies infinitely more episodes with tonight’s plot. But not as meta as the narrator’s summation: “And so Homer and Marge’s marriage was saved for another week.”
- As previously reported, this week’s couch gag is an homage to Breaking Bad, with Marge’s blue cupcakes substituting for crystal meth (though they don’t seem as addictive as Tomacco). I would love to see a Venn diagram of the two shows’ audiences.
- Among Milhouse’s notes during the classroom screening of A Streetcar Named Desire: “Musical version starring Flanders was better.”
- Ms. Krabappel puts out her cigarette in the ear of a sleeping Bart, who then eats the butt. Maybe a lit cigarette is the sex toy that Marge craves.
- Homer, after he wedges himself in the bottomless chair: “Call the Proctor and Gamble hotline!” Marge: “Really? Geez, they make everything!” Homer, you could have saved money on Amazon.
- Best sight gag: Homer’s squished body unfolding and folding up again in the hospital, depending on whether he believes he's been given genuine muscle relaxants.
- If you defy the chef’s wishes and put soy sauce on your sushi at Swankyfish, you’re pelted with edamame beans, then chased out with a fire extinguisher. Marge thinks that rudeness to customers is a sign of great food. Stupid Marge.
- Springfield has Skin-Colored Cabs. And Asian characters on The Simpsons are distinguished by their less-yellow skin tone.
- Female narrator: “Meanwhile, Homer was doing something very difficult for him… thinking.” I guess her superfluousness is the joke.
- Hokey joke of the week (but it’s not a pun): Lisa reads Nancy Drew And The Mystery Of The Declining Book Sales.
- Fifty Shades Of Gray inspires Moe to work on his fan fiction: “Sheriff Andy took Barney in his arms and kissed him deeply.” Heh, heh, Moe is gay.
- Homer: “You can’t spell ‘lousy’ without ‘us’”!