Airdate: November 15th, 1998
Synopsis: While tracking down his middle name, Homer comes across a farm run by two former hippies, Seth and Munchie. Upon learning his middle name, and learning more about his rebellious mother and her interactions with said hippies (she painted a mural with Homer’s full name), Homer takes an interest in the carefree lifestyle of hippies, and becomes one… not understanding that Seth (Martin Mull) and Munchie (George Carlin) have moderated their practices, even embracing the capitalist aspects of the 90s.
Review (SOME SPOILERS, POSSIBLY FOR OTHER EPISODES): In hindsight, maybe the 60s counterculture was too good to be true. Intended as an anti-establishment movement meant to get humanity more in touch with Earth and the fellow man, as well as generate social reforms, ironically, not only has it become the defining image of the 60s (to the point of cliche), but arguably became absorbed and moderated by the mainstream itself. Not that this was a bad thing, though. However, there is an irony here.
In many regards, The Simpsons was a counterculture in and of itself, or at least represented a counterculture. After the seemingly conservative, politically and socially stolid 80s, where American morals and archetypes were reinforced, came this show that managed to lampoon (if not subvert) every single aspect of Americana. Unfortunately, episodes like “When You Dish Upon A Star” seemed to represent the show becoming mainstream. Here’s where the absorption of the counterculture in the mainstream proved to be detrimental – modern Simpsons episodes seem to run on cliche plots and hackneyed dialogue, attempting to be trendy and cool, and just coming off as a pathetic show that needs to be axed. Soon.
Now that that’s out of the way, “D’oh-in in the Wind” is, in all honesty, quite an improvement over the aforementioned last episode. (That’s not a hard feat, but still.)
Homer here is certainly a bit bombastic in how he decides to take up the hippie lifestyle, but there’s actually a method to his madness here (contrast with his fawning-turned-betrayal of Basinger and Baldwin.) His appreciation of the perceived layabout lifestyle of the hippies seems to harken back to the days of “Homer Goes to College”, when Homer’s perception of party colleges conflicted with the more academic reality of Springfield U.
In this case, Homer’s perception of the 60s counterculture is based in stereotypes – belief in pseudo-communism, utter degeneration of his hygiene, and calling out dissenters as “narcs” and sellouts. (Insert your own Tumblr joke here.) However, the radical counterculture never seemed to mesh with reality, and the hard-leftish aspects of hippiedom transformed into an arguably liberal (or possibly libertarian) direction. Seth and Munchie are just trying to survive in the capitalist 90s, and simply implemented their hippie personality into their job – making organic juice.
Even further, it’s Homer’s attempts to maintain the supposedly lax attitude that represented the counterculture that caused more harm in the first place – his frisbee laid waste to the shipment. I can’t help but think that this is a symbol of how some elements of the hippie counterculture may have proven detrimental to the lives of those who followed it to the T, but who knows. Maybe Scully and Co just needed an excuse to create conflict in the plot.
Actually, I think that this episode could be an analysis of what the 60s counterculture started off as – an even stronger desire to respect your fellow man, no matter what. Here, Homer’s role as a hippie starts out as just a self-serving expression of the stereotypes. Upon realizing the negative effects of his carefree actions, he takes it upon himself to try and make things right. However, not having the knowledge to run a farm business, nor a knowledge of plants, he messes up. Royally. Even then, facing down a bunch of cops ready to bust them all on drug charges, he still understands what happened… and the end result is hilarious, if a bit abrupt.
So, that looks like a sizable amount of praise for this episode. Was there anything actually wrong with it?
Well, there were a few things I didn’t like.
My first complaint is more of a nitpick than anything. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by Steven Universe‘s construction of secondary and tertiary characters, but I really couldn’t get any noticeable difference between Seth and Munchie. They worked as representatives of how the 60s evolved into the 90s, but apart from that, they really didn’t get too much development. They worked, but I have a feeling that an opportunity was missed.
More of a major complaint, though, is one I mentioned earlier. Homer’s execution of his hippiedom comes off as a bit bombastic for my tastes. It seems like Scully’s view of comedy (and Homer) is just loud and bombastic. While not a bad thing, in my recent review of “Steven’s Lion”, I argued that what makes Steven Universe work is it’s restraint in how it executes it’s comedy and character expressions. To a lesser extent, that also made classic Simpsons work – while it did have slapstick and bombastic comedy, it balanced it out with subtle character comedy and dramatic moments. At least the reaction to Homer’s loutish behavior was more realistic here than it was in… the last episode.
Otherwise, this episode isn’t too bad of an outing. Definitely not gonna measure up to the classics, but for what it was worth, it was still a pretty cute episode.
- Burns seemed a tad bit off at the beginning of the episode. I can see him running a commercial on the cheap, as well as his old fashioned tastes and utter weakness. However, there doesn’t seem to be the machiavellian zest that he once had. You could argue that he was humbled by having a trillion dollars taken from him by Fidel Castro, but even then, said loss was caused by his own idiocy.
- I loved the inclusion of “Uptown Girl” as Homer’s “hippie song”. Not only does this seem to reinforce Homer’s more 80s-centric mentality, but the song itself is a throwback to the sounds of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons – from the 60s.
- The theme at the end of the episode was performed by Yo La Tengo, an indie rock band from New Jersey. Honestly, I never heard of them until now. Their cover was pretty cool.