“Marge, as a trained marriage counselor, this is the first instance where I've ever told one partner that they were 100% right. It's all his fault. I'm willing to put that on a certificate you can frame.”
The War of the Simpsons is the twentieth episode of Season 2.
Marge and Homer host a dinner party, and Homer gets drunk and makes a fool of himself. Outraged and humiliated, Marge signs them up for a marriage retreat. When Homer learns the retreat is being held at a popular fishing spot, he tries to bail out of the retreat to go fishing. Meanwhile, Grampa babysits Bart, Lisa, and Maggie, who take advantage of him.
Marge and Homer throw a dinner party. Homer gets drunk and humiliates himself by telling off total strangers, pulling a very juvenile (and probably medically dangerous) practical joke on Dr. Hibbert involving a fly in an ice-cube, dancing while wearing a lampshade as a hat, making inappropriate remarks in front of Bart, ogling Maude Flanders' deep cleavage and generally making a fool of himself. Homer then passes out on the living room floor and sleeps until the morning (Hibbert also suggests to Marge that, if she wants Homer to live through the night, she has to roll him onto his stomach, which she does while remarking that she had never been so embarrassed in her life). The next day, Homer wakes up to Marge hitting the back of his head with the vacuum cleaner and she quickly pulls him into the car and turns the radio up super loud so the kids wouldn't know they were fighting (although the kids had since figured it out). Marge asks Homer if he remembered how he had behaved the previous night and Homer slowly remembers all the regrettable things that he had done the night before. Marge continues by saying that she liked to believe she was a patient person and that there was no line Homer could cross that would make her stop loving him. But remarks that last night proved her wrong. Homer asks if they can put it behind them and go to church, but Marge tells him that she's going to church alone and Homer is going to apologize to Bart for scarring him for life by exposing him to his drunken antics. Homer apologizes to Bart for his behavior and hopes that Bart didn't lose much respect for him. Bart slyly tells Homer that he never had respect for him in the first place, which angers him so much. At church, Marge enrolls the two of them in a weekend retreat of marriage counseling hosted by Reverend Lovejoy and Helen Lovejoy. When Marge hires a babysitter for the weekend, the sitter takes one look at Bart and runs off screaming, as she had been emotionally scarred by watching Bart when he was a baby and tried to run her over with Homer's car. Marge ends up recruiting Grampa as a last-minute replacement to babysit for the weekend.
Homer finds out that the retreat will be held at Catfish Lake and plans to spend some time fishing, even though Marge tells him that the weekend will be spent resolving their differences and there won't be any time for fishing. Even so, Homer sneaks his fishing gear in beside their luggage. Before they leave, Marge gives Grampa a list of numbers in case of an emergency, and secretly gives Lisa a number to call if Grampa falls in the bathtub. Abe hears this and tells Marge that everything will be fine. On the way to the retreat, Homer learns of the legendary catfish, General Sherman, and vows to catch the elusive fish.
Meanwhile, at home, Bart and Lisa decide to take advantage of being left with Grampa, with Bart creating a phony list of what foods they can and cannot have and drinking coffee This leads to a shopping trip where Bart smokes a cigar; Grampa gets candy, ice cream and other items for the kids; and Bart makes Grampa chauffeur them to Krusty Burger and then to Noiseland Video Arcade. During all of this Lisa tries to tell Bart not to take advantage of Grandpa.
During the first meeting at the marriage retreat, each couple is asked to explain the faults of the other person. When Rev. Lovejoy asks Homer to tell everyone about his and Marge's problems, he does. He tells everything that while she's his perfect soulmate, Homer admits he doesn't like it when she nags at him for every little thing he does and finds it annoying. He wishes that Marge would at least ease up on him. She tries to interrupt Homer, but Lovejoy asks her to wait. Once Homer is done, it's Marge's turn. Her list is so long that she talks for several hours, and Reverend Lovejoy has to cancel plans for a luau. The next morning. Homer gets up at 5:00 am to sneak away and go fishing, but Marge wakes up and catches him. Marge is angry that Homer would choose fishing over their marriage, but the message is at first lost on Homer, who visualizes Marge turning into a catfish. Homer asks if he can take a walk instead, and Marge agrees. On the dock, Homer finds an abandoned fishing pole, picks it up, and gets yanked off the pier into a small rowboat and onto the lake. It appears that the rod has hooked the legendary catfish, General Sherman. From the cabin window, Marge sees Homer on the lake, and assumes that he has ignored her again.
Back at home, Bart and Lisa throw a party that ends with the house in a total mess, with Grampa being unable to stop the party (and if anything was tricked by Nelson into making a fool of himself when Nelson baited him into removing his own belt, presumably to beat him with it, only for his pants to fall down due to the belt's absence). Watching Grampa sob, and fearing that he will get in trouble, Bart and Lisa start to feel remorse for taking advantage of Grampa, and they frantically work to clean the house up before Homer and Marge return. However, unbeknownst to them, Grampa secretly chuckles while they clean.
Marge attends the marriage workshops alone while Homer is still attempting to catch the fish. Finally he wrestles it into the boat, and after it stops moving, he returns to the dock, triumphantly singing, "I am the Champion." He finds Marge waiting for him, and she tells him their marriage is in trouble if he values a fish more than her. To prove that he loves Marge more, he lets the fish go (despite having battled it for several hours), Marge forgives him, and they return home to a clean house. But Maggie notices a dirty spot, and she hides it by standing on it. When Marge asks how Grampa did it, he admits he fooled Bart and Lisa into obedience by pretending to cry ("I can turn it on like a faucet!"), and the entire Simpson family realizes how clever he is. Bart, Lisa, and Maggie are so humiliated that they swear revenge on Grampa one day.
Back at Catfish Lake, General Sherman still swims free, but the story of how Homer nearly caught him is added to the tale of the legendary fish, as told by the bait shop clerk.