“You don’t fail at 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
The Simpsons‘ 30th Season keeps going with the second episode of the season, “Heartbreak Hotel“. The episode is a well-crafted mix of reality competition shows, marriage crisis, and dream fullfillment (sort of).
The episode starts with the Simpsons watching Marge‘s favorite reality competition show, called The Amazing Place, which is a parody of The Amazing Race. When Bart and Lisa point out that Marge has an absolute knowledge of the show (plus some sort of obsession with it as well), they try to encourage her to audition for the show. Marge reveals that she and Homer have tried out to be on the show 46 times, getting rejected in all of them.
Lisa makes an audition video for her parents by editing together the videos from their past audition tapes, and she and Bart later go to the show’s auditions in the Squidport. There they convince the staff of the show to let Marge and Homer compete in an episode.
Marge and Homer arrive at the place where the show takes place, thrilled by the idea of being in the show, only to immediately get eliminated (shelliminated) in the first challenge, the Suitcase Stowaway. However, the show doesn’t let them go home and they are forced to stay 6 months in a Hotel, in order to prevent fans from knowing they’ve been kicked off before the season airs. Marge is devastated by the feeling of being a “noob” and being the first couple eliminated. Homer, in the other hand, enjoys and quickly adapts to hotel life.
Marge finally adapts to hotel life, but they eventually find the show’s post-production room and they discover the fault of them being eliminated the first day is all Homer’s, as he ate a giant chocolate bar that was her Suitcase Stowaway. Marge then gets angry with Homer, therefore starting a marriage crisis. After that happens, they meet another eliminated couple in a scene that parodies the film ”Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”, were a character from the film also appears (Nick, voiced by guest George Segal, who also portrayed him in the original film).
They are then surprised by the show when one of the eliminated couples is offered to re-enter the competition, only if one of the members teams up with a member from another couple. Marge rapidly forms a team with Nick. They almost win, but ultimately fail, making Homer enjoy the feeling of being the one people pity.
The episode, written by Matt Selman and Renee Ridgeley and directed by Steven Dean Moore, offers a new take of a classic plot of the show, a Marge-Homer marriage crisis. At this point, Marge and Homer’s marriage has proven to be indestructible. So, as always, their crisis is solved. Unlike other past episodes, in this occasion the crisis is quickly solved. The parody of The Amazing Race is amusing and funny. The show’s host, Tag Tuckerburg (voiced by guest Rhys Darby), is also a hilarious character that offer some enjoyable moments.
The guest stars of the episode, George Segal and Rhys Darby, both offer well-acted performances. For a show like The Simpsons, it’s now unusual to have episodes with only an A-plot, but this episode manages to handle a single plot within a very short amount of time. The unneeded sport talk at the end could have been replaced with a couch gag in the opening, maybe.
This episode is more than just another marriage crisis episode, as the marriage crisis plot doesn’t go quite far than a quarter of the episode’s time, to a greater or lesser extent. The episode sees Marge and Homer going to compete in a reality show, expecting to face some challenges, and at the end they actually have to face some challenges from reality (their real word).
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Notes and Observations:
- Marge seemingly has an obsession with The Amazing Place. According to Lisa, she has watched all the episodes, even listening to the director’s commentaries. She even made the family play the “horrible” home game of the show.
- Homer enjoys the feeling of not being the one ‘who screws things up’.
- Bart wanted to put a pool in the backyard, with Milhouse, Nelson and Ralph digging the hole.
- Remarkable quotes:
- “The fitness center only had an old NordicTrack, but it felt good to work out.” — Marge
“I sat on a yoga ball and drank cucumber water. It’s nice to know I can still do that” — Homer
- “This conversation is hereby terminated. You are each entitled to one capful of bubble bath.” — Blue-haired lawyer
“Now, that’s parenting.” — Homer.