|There's No Disgrace Like Home||
- “Be normal! Be normal!”
- ―Homer trying to make the kids act their age at Burns' party
"There's No Disgrace Like Home" is the fourth episode of The Simpsons television series.
It was an early episode, showing early designs for a few recurring characters. Several critics have noted that the characters acted differently from the way they would in later seasons. The episode features the first appearance of Dr. Marvin Monroe, and the first series appearance of Itchy and Scratchy, who had previously appeared in the Ullman Shorts. The episode also marks the first appearance of Eddie and Lou.
Homer takes his family to Dr. Marvin Monroe, an unorthodox counselor who uses shock therapy to "cure" them.
Bart and Lisa are fighting, but it is not long until Homer quickly rushes in to break the melee up. He tells them to get the bad behavior out of their system, because they are going to Mr. Burns’ company picnic, and he doesn’t want his family to embarrass him in front of Mr. Burns.
When the family arrives at Mr. Burns' mansion for the picnic, Homer once again reminds his family that they have to behave in a normal manner. Bart and Lisa quickly run off to play in the water fountain and Homer chases after them leaving Marge and Maggie behind. Another woman carrying a baby approaches Marge and suggests to place the babies in the nursery and grab a drink together. Marge is reluctant about drinking, but then after seeing Homer chase Bart and Lisa around the backyard, she chooses to have a glass of punch.
It's soon time for the father-son sack race, and Homer pressures Bart to not have them beating Mr. Burns. Meanwhile, Marge is conversing with all the wives of the workers; she becomes tipsy from the amount of punch she drank. Back to the sack race, where Smithers gives Mr. Burns a head start and then fires the starting gun. Mr. Burns is out in front of everyone, when suddenly Bart plans to make a break for the finish line. Homer quickly hops up ahead and tackles Bart just short of the finish line, allowing Mr. Burns to finish first. Meanwhile, Marge, intoxicated, leads all the women in a song and dance number, when Homer runs by and is shocked at Marge’s behavior. He quickly whisks her away from the punch and tells her to keep it together because Mr. Burns is about to give a toast.
Everyone at the picnic gathers as Mr. Burns gives a toast. He thanks everyone for coming, but tells them all to leave immediately as he threatens to release the hounds in ten minutes. Everyone heads out, and Homer notices the family ahead of them; the son gives the father a kiss and tells him he had a great time. Mr. Burns is impressed by this family, but is insulted by Homer's pathetic attempt to gain his favor. Later on, Homer confronts the man from the “perfect” family ahead of him and tells him he can stop the fake cornball routine. However, the man reveals his family are actually nice normal people in real life and don't act like this only at gatherings. When the man admits pitying him, Homer finally realizes the truth--that his own family has a problem. He watches a son from the normal family lets his sister enter the back seat like a gentleman. She politely thanks him for the gesture. Homer witnesses Lisa and Bart arguing and fighting over seats. He turns his attention to the man's wife who is offering her husband to rest and she can drive home. The man politely refuses and starts the car. Homer then turns his attention to Marge whose still intoxicated and asking him to drive home before she throws up in his car. He imagines the man's family driving off to Heaven, while he is driving his own family in Hell. Homer goes back home in his reality now knowing how much Marge, Bart and Lisa embarrassed him in front of his boss.
The next day, Marge and the kids eat TV dinners in the living room and watch TV together when Homer walks in and plans that tonight they are all going to eat at the dinner table like a normal family. At the dinner table, the rest of the Simpsons are not taking Homer's attempt to get them to eat like a normal family seriously and continue eating like cavemen. During his prayer, Homer expresses his dissatisfaction with his troubled family's behavior and ponders why he was cursed with those who disrespect him. When Marge and the kids claim there is nothing is wrong with the family, Homer chooses to prove that there is something wrong with them. He leads the family in a tour around the neighborhood, peeking into random houses to observe their neighbors’ normal family life. However, the rest of the Simpsons are unnerved by Homer's sudden rash behavior in the tour and tries to convince him that they're normal like everyone else who have familiar problems like them. He refuses to believe them, pointing out that normal families converses with each other about their day and eat at the dinner table, not ignore a family member and eating dinner while watching TV in the living room. A neighbor notices Homer spying on his family and fires warning rounds from his shot gun. By the time they got back to the safety of their house, Marge tells him off that she thinks the trip is unnecessary because she and the kids feel like stalkers, invading their entire neighborhood's privacies with their families. They quickly retreat back inside to continue watching TV.
Depressed by this matter, Homer visits Moe's Tavern for a drink and to get away from his problems. Two patrolmen enter the bar, claiming they received reports of a neighborhood stalker. The dog suspects Homer and growls at them to pay attention. Luckily for him, the two cops are too dumb to notice anything and drag the dog away. After getting into a brief fight with Barney, Homer later sees a commercial for Dr. Marvin Monroe's Family Therapy Center. Dr. Monroe guarantees "family bliss or double your money back". Homer then gets an idea to make his family normal.
Marge and the kids watch an Itchy & Scratchy cartoon when Homer walks in the living room and announces he has made an appointment at Dr. Monroe’s Family Therapy Center. The family is reluctant to the idea, but Homer is on a mission to make his family better. Marge tries to claim that there's still nothing wrong with their family, but Homer doesn't listen.
The therapy treatment begins as Dr. Monroe brings them into another room and sits them down. He encourages them each to draw a picture that represents the source of their unhappiness. Most of the Simpsons vent their anger out by drawing Homer as they see him, while Homer gets lost in the exercise by drawing airplanes dropping bombs on his family. When Dr. Monroe sees this, he points out to Homer that had he been paying attention, he would've known his family sees him as an abusive and stern disciplinarian. Monroe also calls him an ogre, a word that Marge and Lisa disagree with, claiming ogre is too much. Bart agrees with Monroe, making Homer furious enough to attack him. Dr. Monroe calms Homer down and asks the family to try different exercises, such as the foam padded aversion mallets that Bart turns into a hard weapon by removing the foam padding from his mallet and striking Dr. Monroe with it. Soon, Dr. Monroe sees that the Simpson family is not responding to conventional treatment, so his next exercise becomes different. He places each of the Simpsons in their own chair, hooked up to deliver an electric shock. Each chair has buttons that when pressed will deliver an electric shock to another corresponding chair. With all of the Simpsons strapped in, Dr. Monroe instructs them only to shock someone else if that person hurts them emotionally. However, the family members quickly start shocking each other over minor slights, and then things go totally off the rails when Maggie starts hitting all the buttons at random, leading to a power brownout across the entire city, much to Mr. Burns' joy as this increased use of electricity means more money for his company.
Dr. Monroe soon tires of the Simpsons and unplugs the generator. He tries to remove them from his office, but Homer refuses to leave until he gets double his money back (it was $250 to attend a session, so it would be $500 that Homer is asking for). Dr. Monroe at first refuses, but then, seeing as how the family acted as one, he gives Homer the money and tells them to leave and never tell anyone they were ever there. The family leaves, then uses the money to buy a new TV (the old one was cashed in to help pay for the session), seeing as how they reconnected with each other.
Behind the Laughter
The episode shows telltale signs of being one of the earliest shows of the season produced. The characters act slightly different from how they would in later seasons. For example: Lisa is an undisciplined brat, Marge is a drunk and inattentive, whereas Homer is concerned and the voice of reason for his family. It was an early episode for Mr. Burns, in which he had a voice different from the one it would later become. Originally, the character was influenced by Ronald Reagan, which was later dropped. The idea that he would greet his employees using index cards was inspired by how Ronald Reagan would greet people. The episode marks the first time Burns says "release the hounds". It also marked the first appearance of Eddie and Lou, although Lou was not black, but instead yellow like the rest of the characters. Lou was named after Lou Whitaker - a former Major League Baseball player. It is the first appearance of Itchy & Scratchy, although the cat and mouse duo appeared in the shorts.
The idea behind the scene in which the family take turns to electrically shock each other was based on Laurel and Hardy throwing pies at each other, albeit played out more sadistically. The scene was rearranged in the editing room, because when it was first produced it played out differently. The edits made to the finished product were preliminary; however, they were received well and remained unchanged.
This episode marks the introduction of Dr. Marvin Monroe, Itchy and Scratchy, and Eddie and Lou (two of Springfield's policemen); Lou was colored yellow by mistake in this episode (same mistake made in "Krusty Gets Busted"), though he is later an African-American, and Smithers, who was drawn as an African-American in the previous episode, is drawn in yellow a shade or two lighter than Burns, in this one. This episode also marks the first use of Burns' "release the hounds" comment.
The authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, note: "It's very strange to see Homer pawning the TV set in an attempt to save the family; if this episode had come later Marge would surely have taken this stance." They continue, "A neat swipe at family counseling with some great set pieces; we're especially fond of the perfect version of the Simpsons and the electric-shock aversion therapy." In a DVD review of the first season, David B. Grelck gave the episode a rating of 2.0/5.0, placing it as one of the worst of the season.
This episode would have been one of the first seen by British viewers. It was the first episode to be broadcast by the BBC on November 23, 1996, on a Saturday at 5:30pm, because the episodes were shown out of order. The episode was screened with five million viewers that was slightly less than the show, Dad's Army, a British series revolving around a misfit military platoon, which previously held the time-slot. The episode also faced competition from ITV's screening of Sabrina the Teenage Witch. This was unless you had a subscription to SKY TV in the 90s as they showed the episodes in order from September 2, 1990 (the first being The Simpsons Roasting On An Open Fire). It was said to be the savior of Sky TV from being an instant failure.
The scene where the family turn electrically shocking each other would later appear in the film Die Hard 2: Die Harder.
- France: January 5, 1991
- Germany: September 13, 1991
- Hungary: September 17, 1998
- Italy: November 5, 1991
- There's No Disgrace Like Home/Transcript
|◄ Shorts: Season 3||Season 1 Episodes||Season 2 ►|
|Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire • Bart the Genius • Homer's Odyssey • There's No Disgrace Like Home • Bart the General • Moaning Lisa • The Call of the Simpsons • The Telltale Head • Life on the Fast Lane • Homer's Night Out • The Crepes of Wrath • Krusty Gets Busted • Some Enchanted Evening|