[7.4/10 on a post-classic Simpsons scale] The days where I waited for a Simpsons season premiere with bated breath are long gone, but this was, at the very least, a solid enough episode to kick the season off with. I suppose that’s damning with faint praise, and a testament to my diminsiehd expectations for my favorite show, but here we are.
The A-story about viral videos is not bad. It starts out pretty dumb with more of the show’s toothless Stephen A. Smith parody and an overly cartoony fight between Homer and Bart. But once it gets into the actual satirizing of the world of online videos, business picks up a bit. John Mullaney does a nice job as the hipster tech bro who lures the Simpsons into that world, and the social commentary on the injection of branding, the contrivedness and corruption of something that got acclaim due to its authenticity, and the fickle nature of afndom and celebrity all pass muster. Some of the gags reek of old guys trying to spoof what the kids are into, but for the most part, it works, and ends on a nice note.
The B-story doesn't fare as well, as the show pivots from a food fight to a thin commentary on private prisons. I long for the days when this show had the chops to take a topic like that and make it both funny and insightful, but Lisa’s trip to the privately run detention hall is too superficial and underfed to real have much bite or humor. The fact that it ends with a barely-there strike and a forced-gag whimper don’t help.
Overall, the episode’s commentary on viral videos is surprisingly well-observed and, once it gets past the early throat-clearing, even pretty funny. But the B-story and some mild gags hold it back from anything above “pretty good.”
This was a really funny take on the whole social media obsession.I know many people think The Simpsons are past their expiry date but I am happy they are still around.