Posts Tagged ‘Beware My Cheating Bart


Compare & Contrast: March-April Romances

New Kid on the Block14

“She’s beautiful.  Say something clever!” – Bart’s Brain
“I fell on my bottom.” – Bart Simpson
D’oh!” – Bart’s Brain

There are a lot problems with “Beware My Cheating Bart”.  For starters, it’s kinda sexist and disturbing.  Beyond that, it’s further evidence that Zombie Simpsons has turned its kid characters into empty, anti-human nobodies.  And, of course, it manages to lack any kind of story coherence while doing all those things.  What makes it all more glaring than usual is the way “Beware My Cheating Bart” so closely follows the plot, structure, and even jokes of the boundlessly superior “New Kid on the Block”.

One of the most handy things anyone ever told me about sexism was that the easiest way to gauge how sexist something is or isn’t was by reversing the gender roles and seeing how weird or fucked up it would seem.  Applying that little rubric, “Beware My Cheating Bart” fails miserably compared to “New Kid on the Block”.  In the latter, it would mean a ten-year-old girl developing a crush on the fourteen(ish)-year-old boy next door, showing him that his girlfriend was bad news, and then ending with them bonding as friends by making a prank call.  A little unusual, maybe, but certainly not creepy.  In Zombie Simpsons, it would mean a fourteen(ish)-year-old boy flashing a ten-year-old girl, then making out with her repeatedly, hanging around with her in little kid pizza joints, and running about town late at night.  That is creepy, no two ways about it, and that means you might not want to be doing it at all.


Uh . . . yeah, please don’t do that again.

Leaving that unpleasantness behind us forever, the best way to shake off the weirdness of having a character the episode identifies as a “total pre-puber” getting hot and heavy in the privacy of the principal’s office is to remember that it’s been a long time since Bart was anything like a normal kid, and the same goes for Jimbo and everyone else in this episode.  Just in that first scene in the movie theater, we get sitcom-tastic clunkers like this:

Dolph: We’re gonna to be checking out a delightful Hong Kong horror remake known as ‘Crawlspace’, based on Paxing Kongjian.

And this:

Jimbo: Shauna, food for thought, if we don’t watch movies about torture in crawlspaces, how will we know what to do if someone puts us in a torture crawlspace?
Kearney: Not if, when.
Shauna: Nah.  I’m gonna go see one of those Jennifer Aniston movies where she rolls her eyes on the poster.

This kind of stilted, formulaic dialogue is hacktacular on a couple of levels.  First of all, what little humor they’re trying to wring out of these fake movies dissolves away when you have your characters basically explain the jokes as they’re saying them, not to mention the movie posters behind them that do the same thing.

We'd Better Make Super Sure the Audience Gets These

Ha!  That’s what s/he just said.  I get it now!  I get jokes. 

More importantly, nobody talks like this except comedy writers.  None of the characters here act like actual characters, instead they’re little more than animated loudspeakers.  The things they’re saying don’t work in the context of where or who they are; they only make sense if you’re sitting in a room with a bunch of people constantly hurling punchlines at one another.  Zombie Simpsons may not have a laughtrack, but it’d be awfully easy to insert canned laughter into that.  Observe:

Jimbo: Shauna, food for thought, if we don’t watch movies about torture in crawlspaces, how will we know what to do if someone puts us in a torture crawlspace?
[Short laugh]
Kearney: Not if, when.
[Longer laugh]
Shauna: Nah.  I’m gonna go see one of those Jennifer Aniston movies where she rolls her eyes on the poster.
[Long laugh, with subtle amounts of “ooh”]

Each line is its own self contained piece of cheap fluff, and there’s hardly any interaction between them.  Now, consider the first time we see some of the same characters in “New Kid on the Block”.  Bart and Laura are sitting on the curb in front of Laura’s new house while their moms are inside talking.  They don’t spit ungainly cultural references back and forth, instead they actually get to know each other as Bart tries out his little pranks and Laura impresses him by already knowing them.

Similarly, when Dolph and Kearney walk by, they don’t immediately crack some joke that’s intended for the audience instead of the other people who are supposedly right in front of them.  They speak like there really is a girl sitting there, with Kearney trying one of those hideous pick up lines that only seem like good ideas to very naive teenage boys:

Kearney: Hey, baby, how ’bout putting your finger in my ear.
Laura: Well, I don’t know, your boyfriend looks like the jealous type.
Kearney: Hey, what the?
Dolph: That chick’s messing with our minds.
Kearney: Let’s get out of here!

Each line leads directly and necessarily into the next, so not only is this funnier, but it also works naturally with who these characters are and what each of them is trying to do.  Laura continues to demonstrate how cool she is by effortlessly annihilating Kearney’s hapless pass at her, while Kearney and Dolph fail, panic and flee from a girl who’s clearly smarter and tougher than they are.  On top of all that, the audience sees Bart’s crush on Laura deepen after he watches her defeat his tormentors.

New Kid on the Block12

Sigh.  She’s dreamy. 

This sort of thing can be seen throughout both episodes.  In “New Kid on the Block”, Bart and Laura both act like kids their age.  Laura babysits, plays video games at the Kwik-E-Mart, and completely overlooks Bart’s puppy love because she has no reason to notice it.  Meanwhile, Bart falls head over heels, but has no idea how to go about it (in no small part because Homer gets drunk while failing to explain the facts of life to him).  The jokes and humor (Two Guys from Kabul, Escape from Death Row) are inserted into natural interactions for two kids like them to have.

In “Beware My Cheating Bart”, the opposite happens.  What jokes there are get blasted into weird situations, while Bart, Shauna, Jimbo, Lisa and everyone else act like dating weary adults.  They give each other sophisticated relationship advice, know every cliche, and generally act like the same kind of one dimensional characters you’ll find in those eye rolling Jennifer Aniston movies.  They couldn’t be less like real kids if they were played by hard bodied, thirty-something movie stars:

Shauna: I want to find out who I am.  And that’s something only an inappropriately older man can tell me.
Bart:  Well, that is one lucky, creepy guy.

By this point in the episode, I have no idea who these people are supposed to be, or even if they’re still people at all.  When this happens, Jimbo has apparently been patrolling Bart’s back yard for hours on end, Shauna has realized out of the blue that she wants something else, and Bart drops his entire infatuation as though it never happened.  There’s no connection between events, things happen because everyone’s been through this so many times before that, when it comes to what should be the climax of the story, they already know what to do.

By contrast, in “New Kid on the Block”, Bart thinks Laura is finally taking a shine to him when she confides in him that she’s started dating Jimbo.  Bart doesn’t see this coming, and Laura doesn’t realize how much she just hurt him.  Neither of them is really aware of what’s going on with the other because – again – they’re just kids.  Check out Laura’s swooning description of what she likes about Jimbo:

Bart: How can you like that guy?
Laura: I don’t know.  Maybe cause he’s an outlaw.  You know that dead body they found behind the mayor’s house?
Bart: Jimbo killed him?
Laura: No, but he poked him with a stick.

New Kid on the Block13

Hey look!  Characters emoting. 

Just as with Laura’s dismissing of Kearney, everyone here is perfectly in character, and they sneak in that joke about Quimby murdering someone while keeping the dialogue very kid-like.  On top of that, none of them knows where things are going to go from here.  Laura likes Jimbo because she thinks he’s a good looking rebel who plays by his own rules.  Jimbo likes Laura because she’s a cool chick who doesn’t mind when he takes his shirt off.  And Bart schemes to break them apart because he knows that Jimbo is bad news.  Instead of romance veterans who go through the motions, Laura, Jimbo and Bart all act like themselves right up to the end. 

Zombie Simpsons took a bad romantic comedy template, grafted their characters onto it without the least bit of consideration as to why any of them would act like that way, and figured a few semi-clever asides would be enough to redeem it.  The Simpsons knew how to create something better than that, because on that show they understood that having kids act like kids isn’t an impediment to having them be funny.


Crazy Noises: Beware My Cheating Bart


“Bart, could you go get the cupcakes?” – Marge Simpson
“Cupcakes?  Cupcakes.  Yes.  Sweet cakes for all.” – Bart Simpson

As part of our tireless efforts to demonstrate the many ways Zombie Simpsons fails to entertain, Season 23 will be subjected to the kind of rigorous examination that can only be produced by people typing short messages at one another.  More dedicated or modern individuals might use Twitter for this, but that’s got graphics and short links and little windows that pop up when you put your cursor over things.  The only kind of on-line communications we like are the kind that could once be done at 2400 baud.  So disable your call waiting, plug in your modem, and join us for another year of Crazy Noises.  This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (especially on “water weenie”).

In one of the more telling segments of “Beware My Cheating Bart”, all manner of thinly mammary-related foodstuffs are paraded before the audience.  First there’s a suspiciously round mound of mashed potatoes, then Grampa calling Bart a “boob” and talking about chicken “breasts”, and finally Marge bringing over a plate of round cookies with little chocolate nipples in the middle.  The premise of all of this can roughly be translated as, “hurr, boobz funny”.

Now, plenty of people (myself very much included) have a healthy inner 9-year-old that will usually find something like that at least mildly amusing.  There aren’t many parts of the human body that aren’t at least kinda goofy, and there’s certainly no harm in the occasional cheap laugh.  What’s so amazing about Zombie Simpsons is that they managed to screw up even this most basic form of comedy. 

Hershey kiss nipples and noting that chickens also have a part on them called “breasts” are silly and juvenile, but the scene where they do this is anything but.  It gets introduced with a shocked looking Bart accompanied by the string music of suspense, and that’s before Marge and Grampa proceed to inadvertently traumatize him.  Bart spends the whole scene genuinely freaking out, which makes me, the audience member who likes to indulge his inner 9-year-old, unsure how to react.  I can’t giggle playfully because Bart is losing it, but there’s no deeper humor or satire either. 

When Bart goes for the cupcakes in “Duffless”, he’s also traumatized, but there it’s a call back to earlier in the episode as well as a wonderfully salacious Kubrick parody.  Bart’s freak out is part of the gag instead of a distraction from it, so there’s no mismatch between what’s going on and what’s supposed to be funny. 

It’s also worth pointing out that, in the previous scene, Zombie Simpsons resorted to the ye olde tyme movie/television shortcut of we’ll-show-the-girl-from-the-back-because-we-can’t-show-her-from-the-front whereas The Simpsons had a mentally conditioned 10-year-old reach for actual sugar tits on network television.  One of those displays a great deal more creativity than the other.

Duffless3 I still can’t believe they got away with this.  The Standards & Practices people are not the sharpest knives in the network drawer. 

Charlie Sweatpants: Ready to begin?

Mad Jon: Oh sure

Dave: Indeed

Charlie Sweatpants: Shall we quickly dispense with the couch gag? I thought it was cute, but it went on too damn long.

Mad Jon: And weirdly depressing, even with the happy ending. Nothing like watching a cartoon couch kiss it’s child goodbye before committing garbage-cide to get me in the mood for a comedy

Dave: Having had the pleasure of ignoring much of this season, I did think the gag was, as you say, cute.

Charlie Sweatpants: Well, the idea of Homer actually having sex with a piece of furniture is a little odd. I confess myself slightly impressed that they got that on television, but about halfway through I was pretty much ready for it to be over.

Mad Jon: It did drag on.

  But that’s pretty standard nowadays.

Charlie Sweatpants: Indeed it is. Witness the "flame war" between Shauna and Comic Book Guy.

That could’ve been kinda funny, instead they dragged it out way too long, and had them dancing around each other instead of just standing there ignoring each other before one of them declares victory or something.

Mad Jon: I suppose that’s how it ended. I couldn’t tell what CBG was rattling on about.

Or why he let them in and acted un-CBG before calling Jimbo.

Charlie Sweatpants: Or why Bart would think to go there in the first place.

Were they planning on hanging out there all night or something?

Mad Jon: Perhaps.

  Why Bart thought that CBG would allow that at all is also confusing.

Charlie Sweatpants: I dunno, though since the entire Bart falls in love with a teenage girl thing was beyond nuts, I guess I shouldn’t nitpick.

Mad Jon: This is a romance that started with Bart commenting on how he wasn’t ready, then led to a makeout montage.

Dave: It happened already. With another one of Jimbo’s girls. Better the first time.

Mad Jon: This one was slightly more graphic.

Charlie Sweatpants: And made less sense.

Mad Jon: I dunno how I feel about Bart seeing boobs.

Dave: In what sense?

Charlie Sweatpants: The thing is, they didn’t even need the romance angle. Bart and her could’ve just become friends, like he’s the kid brother who tells her Jimbo’s no good for her or something. The whole romance/make out/visual second base thing just makes it weird and less believable without being in any way funny.

Mad Jon: Yeah, probably

Charlie Sweatpants: Jon, was there more to your boob thought, or was that it?

Mad Jon: Not really, it just felt a bit greasy.

Charlie Sweatpants: The whole thing was greasy. Real greasy.

Mad Jon: What really agravazes me, was the mall shoplifting scene.

Not only was that idea a whole plot in the worst episode ever, he has no fear of shoplifting, defying the guard, and then blowing up the mall jail somehow. All with absolutely no consequences.

Other than then getting to see boobs.

Charlie Sweatpants: All true, but Bart’s behavior throughout this episode see-sawed back and forth between little kid and capable adult.

He’s terrified of getting back to his house because the bullies are in it, then he’s in the treehouse and they’re down in the yard. He’s nervous around Jimbo, then he’s suddenly telling Shauna what to do. If this episode was the only thing you knew about him, you’d think he was bipolar.

The mall security guard was annoying because, well, everything here was annoying. They created an unnecessary situation, then literally blew it up when they couldn’t think of another way out of it. Quite frankly, I think the whole thing was to get the Segway in there, but that’s just a guess.

Mad Jon: I can see the Segway angle.

Charlie Sweatpants: And while we’re on the subject of jokes and one scene characters that sucked and went on too long: the lifeguard.

Mad Jon: Yeah, that happened didn’t it?

Dave: I’m shocked they bothered to write a series of jokes about that at all, seeing as the first wasn’t particularly funny.

Mad Jon: Low hanging fruit I guess. As rotten as it may have been.

Charlie Sweatpants: I don’t know where they were, I don’t know who he was supposed to be, I don’t know how Bart escaped after they had him tied up with water weenies, the whole thing stunk out loud.

Mad Jon: Yeah, why Dolph and Kearney let him go made no sense. But meh.

Charlie Sweatpants: Why Marge had them hang up the laundry also made no sense. I’m not honestly sure there isn’t a single scene in this episode that did make sense.

  For example, even at the very beginning, I can think of no earthly reason Bart would actually go see the little elves movie. Not a single one.

That goes for the Marge and Homer plot too. The whole Lost thing was lame, and Marge not knowing what Homer was doing defied even this show’s standards of stupid.

Mad Jon: So what? Marge and Homer’s marriage was threatened by a TV show that was cancelled years ago?

Charlie Sweatpants: It was more Marge was mad at Homer for lying to her, though since she has to have an IQ of about seventy to not have known he was lying, it didn’t have much kick to it.

Mad Jon: What do you think he did with the treadmill after he got caught and it disappeared?

Charlie Sweatpants: Um, treadmill gnomes? I don’t know.

Mad Jon: Did you guys realize that the first horn music showed up when he got the fortune from the cookie?

Charlie Sweatpants: I didn’t, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

There was plenty of that kind of fake suspense throughout. Like, what was with Lenny, Carl and Moe at their house near the end?

Mad Jon: At the discussion group that ended in an armed standoff?

Charlie Sweatpants: I get that none of them even remotely resemble real people anymore, but they treated that like it was normal. It was just weird.

  Did we lose Dave?

Dave: No I’m here

Charlie Sweatpants: Oh, good.

Dave: Just not contributing as much as I ought to be

Charlie Sweatpants: Enh.

Mad Jon: I wouldn’t feel bad about that if I were you.

Charlie Sweatpants: Nor I.

Dave: Ha. Thanks.

Charlie Sweatpants: Honestly, I don’t think there’s much left to talk about. I mean, the A-plot was weird and only really had one element, Bart and Shauna getting into trouble. The B-plot was rankly stupid and only had one element, Homer freaking out about their terrible Lost takeoff.

There just isn’t much more here. Even by their standards, this one is hollow and simplistic. It’s not even manic enough for there to be some really insane things happening.

Mad Jon: Ralph did crash a cop car into a tree under the supervision of the Chief of Police.

But again, that didn’t really shock me.

  By the way, was the make out in disguise montage something I should have recognized?

  You know, the one that had Bart driving a nice car around?

Charlie Sweatpants: There was one bit that I think was supposed to be Rain Man, but other than that I’m not sure.

Mad Jon: Oh well.

Charlie Sweatpants: Wow, I just realized that this episode so numbed my brain I didn’t even notice Bart or Ralph driving cars.

Mad Jon: One led to the other, but it doesn’t really matter.

Dave: If I saw that, I’ve since suppressed it.

Charlie Sweatpants: Best to keep it that way.

  Anything else?

Mad Jon: I got nothing. That was an unhappy 22 minutes for me.

Dave: It happened, and now it’s done. We get to move on again. For a little while.

Charlie Sweatpants: How Zen.


Underage Sex Shouldn’t Be This Boring

Chalkboard - Beware My Cheating Bart

“Mom, this is a little ahead of schedule, but I need help with my love life.” – Bart Simpson
“Oh, my special little guy has a sweetheart.” – Marge Simpson
“I knew it!  Alright Bart, who’s your girlfriend?” – Lisa Simpson
“Mrs. Krabappel.” – Bart Simpson

In what I assume was an unintentional irony, early in “Beware My Cheating Bart”, the writers had Bart say, “Doesn’t anyone realize I’m only ten years old?”.  The episode certainly didn’t, and it managed to be worse than most “Bart gets a girlfriend” stories to boot.  Bart seems to vacillate between being an experienced teenage dater and a little kid, sometimes within the same scene.  One moment he’s happily going down a slide, and then next he’s getting hot and heavy with Shauna (who is herself of indeterminate teenage years).  It would be creepy if it weren’t so dull. 

However, just one oft repeated story wasn’t enough for Zombie Simpsons this week, so they also had Marge and Homer go through a marital spat.  That one got resolved in the most pointless way possible when Marge decorated herself and the bedroom in an island theme, but managed not to notice Bart and Jimbo out the clearly open window.  Again, this would’ve been creepy if it hadn’t been so boring and nonsensical. 

As for the unimaginative Lost parody “Stranded”, I was reminded of their equally insipid Inception parody from a few weeks ago.  Lost has been off the air for two years now, and everyone knew it was going to end in 2010 beforehand, which means that if you still want to parody it, you’d better come up with more than the same tired jokes (nothing makes sense, there’s no resolution, it’s all just empty plot twists) people stopped making two years ago.  The Futurama alien language plug (it reads “watch futurama thursdays at 10”) was the only thing that was even kind of clever. 

The Bill Plympton couch gag was kind of interesting, though it could’ve been half as long and gotten through pretty much the same stuff.  I suppose it’s true that this is better than the usual, but the novelty of having someone else do the opening is starting to wear off.  And speaking of wearing off, Kavner is really having a hard time doing Marge now.  She’s been kinda off for a couple of seasons, but the number of times I’ve thought to myself “wow, that really doesn’t sound like Marge” has been way up since the middle of this season.  She just doesn’t have the same range she used to, which makes it really tough to put much feeling into anything. 

Anyway, the numbers are in and they are absolutely atrocious.  Just 4.86 million viewers briefly lost all interest in sex last night.  That’s the second lowest of all time, displacing “How I Wet Your Mother” in that spot.  Four of the five least watched episodes ever are now from Season 23, and the average viewership this year is below 6.5 million.  Season 22’s was 7.10 million, and there are still at least three episodes to go.  Presumably Lady Gaga will give them a boost at the end of the year (and I’m not looking forward to putting Reading Digest together that week), but even her fame isn’t going to be enough to rescue that average.


Sunday Preview: Beware My Cheating Bart


Image bloodied by Dave.

No good will come of this:

When Bart is forced to chaperone Jimbo’s girlfriend to a movie, she ends up developing feelings for him, resulting in a whole bunch of trouble with the bullies at school.  Meanwhile, Homer is persuaded to buy a state-of-the-art treadmill, fully equipped with a television.  When Lisa shows Homer that he can access television shows wirelessly, he develops an obsession with watching an old television show from the treadmill, but not actually working out, until Marge decides to intervene.

Since it’s not entirely clear as to which is what, I’m giving 3-2 odds that the thing with Bart and “Jimbo’s girlfriend” (where have you gone, Sara Gilbert?) will actually be the A-plot.  Of course, these days, all that really means is that it’ll occupy slightly more time after the unrelated first segment than the B-plot. 


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