Best Episode of The Simpsons? Season 10: Mom and Pop Art

In an attempt to get completely up-to-date on one of my favourite TV-series The Simpsons, after I watch each season, I will choose my favourite episode…

It appears that the last time I wrote a “Best Episode…” post was in October 2012. That can’t be good if, in nearly two years, I have only watched one season. In any case, with the FXX marathon everywhere, I missed watching the show. I scrolled through the Season 10 guide. I read over the episodes I watched intermittently in the past year and a few happy memories came to mind. Ralph tasting the snow in Lard of the Dance, the make-up shot-gun in The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace and Pinchy in Lisa Gets An “A” are all memorable moments that make Season 10 such fun. And I’m sure Viva Ned Flanders is, pretty much, The Hangover nearly a decade before. It’s fair to say that despite these highlights, Season 10 wasn’t as memorable as the previous seasons.

But, I’m an art teacher so choosing my favourites wasn’t too difficult. The references, talking points and fun in Mom and Pop Art won me over. The enormous rubber that “erases” Homer after he criticises the art of (Simpsons-creator) Matt Groening only to reveal two workmen holding a large (Claus Oldenburg-like) pencil, with a rubber on the end, hitting Homer in the face is funny on multiple levels. The perfect “it’s funny for the whole family” joke, as the situation looks funny it appeals to children, while we know the art reference and the play on an old animation-trick we’ve seen as long ago as Disney’s Saludos Amigos in 1943.
For something as mainstream as The Simpsons, it maintains it’s ambiguously open-stance. While it’s critical of contemporary art and it’s elitist buyers (“Smithers, years ago I blew the chance to buy Picasso’s Guernica for a song. Luckily that song was ‘White Christmas’ and, by hanging on to it, I made billions!”), it is also appreciative of the nature of ready-made’s and art as a way to express oneself. Indeed, “Outsider Art” is a real movement that focuses on artists outside of the art scene – “mental patients or a hillbilly or a chimpanzee” could fit the criteria. The incredible art-dream referencing Warhol, Dali and Leonardo Da Vinci, and the surrealist finish as Springfield becomes a lake unto itself, are moments that whatever your opinion on art, is simply unique to the show. Even a Jasper Johns cameo is a nice touch. Chris Barsanti of Filmcritic.com wrote it best, saying “the episode concocts a knowing satire – but also warm appreciation – of modern art”.
Favourite joke? It comes in the episodes closing moments as Springfield wakes up to Homers final art piece…
Ned Flanders: What the flood?! Maude, it’s a miracle! The Lord has drowned the wicked and spared the righteous.
[Maude gasps as she see’s Homer row by on a raft]
 
Maude Flanders: Isn’t that Homer Simpson?
 
Ned Flanders (annoyed): Looks like Heaven’s easier to get into than Arizona State…
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