Warning; this review contains spoilers.
It’s very hard to highlight the main aspect in which The Simpsons has lost its magic so I won’t even try. What I can do however is point out the various aspects that have become broken along the way. As the twenty-seventh season chugs along there have been more than one occasion in which the writers have either accidentally or purposefully rehashed an old storyline. While this may not be the most creative ways of working, I would be willing to give you a pass if you change enough details and add some extra spicy ingredients (totally off topic but I loved the new Star Wars).
Gal Of Constant Sorrow
Stop me when it’s starting to sound familiar. Lisa befriends an older musician, down on their luck and past their prime. I’ve just realised that you can’t stop me but I feel like the words “Bleeding Gums Murphy” must be screaming in your head right now. Even an amateur Simpsons fan like myself knows Bleeding Gums Murphy and his appearance in ‘Round Springfield is one of the greatest moments of Simpsons history but this week’s musician, Hettie may not lead the same legacy.
Originally Hettie is a homeless woman in the park whom Bart takes pity upon when he knocks her cart into the frozen pond. Bart takes her back to 742 Evergreen Terrace and offers up his closet for a dollar a day. Eventually Lisa catches on to what Bart is doing and makes an even more exciting discovery when she finds that Hettie is a very talented singer, in fact she sounds suspiciously like Natalie Maines from the Dixie Chicks. Meanwhile Homer, determined to prove to Marge that he is a handy man is slowly destroying Hettie’s new home.
For the most part Lisa’s storyline is pretty good and it almost manages to bring home the episode but as for Homer’s storyline, you may as well forget about it. Homer can’t do minor repairs, who would’ve thought it? There really is nothing to this side of the episode, even when Homer got Snowball II stuck in the floorboards I thought; “who cares I think I’ve only ever seen that cat about three times, Santa’s Little Helper is much more interesting”. Still the major flaw is that there is absolutely no resolution, a problem it shares with Lisa’s storyline. Turns out Marge knew he was breaking the house all along, pfft come on! At least Lisa learnt her lesson with Hettie, a lesson she will probably forget when they rehash this story in twenty years time but a lesson nonetheless.
Gal Of Constant Sorrow is not the funniest episode of the series but it does have its moments. Homer can speak drunk which is such a great joke that I’m surprised they haven’t done it already or maybe they have and I just haven’t caught it before. Although the best scene of the whole episode goes to Bart. After Hettie pays her rent a week upfront Bart becomes a seven-dollaire and this naturally leads on to a montage of the new found slumlord slumming it up. Half of this scene’s hilarity has to go to Drake’s Started From The Bottom which is one of those songs that was once serious but can never return once pop culture and the internet has taken over.
With only a few major problems here and there, Gal Of Constant Sorrow is easily one of the best episodes of season twenty-seven. That is a statement that can only remain if I stop thinking about the episode because more and more holes begin to show. For example, it’s annoying when shows cast a “singing voice”. Why not just cast a singer that can act and with animation half the job is already done for you anyway so how hard could it be for Natalie Maines to play Hettie for the whole episode? That’s not to take anything away from Kate McKinnon’s performance who did a wonderful job, the least you can expect from America’s leading newsreader-named comedian. Also don’t remind us of a much better character like Bleeding Gums Murphy when you are introducing a sub-par rip-off. That would be like having the new rubbishy villain talking to Darth Vader’s helmet in a new Star Wars movie.
This is one of those episodes that I was wishing only had one storyline. There must have been a lot of Lisa’s storyline left on the cutting room floor that did not deserved to be cut for a story about America’s dumbest man thinking he can do a good handy. The score is going to suffer harshly for that decision and since it was around two fifths of the episode, I’m going to cut two fifths of the score but reward a bonus half point for Bart’s montage which could be the greatest scene of the entire series. Therefore Gal Of Constant Sorrow deserves a 3.5 out of 5 stars.
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