After the show taking a month off, The Simpsons has entered into its final run of five episodes before the end of its 34th season. And if tonight’s installment of the long-running animated sitcom, entitled “Fan-ily Feud,” is any indication, we might be in for some treats as the season draws to a close.
“Fan-ily Feud” begins with Homer Simpson (voiced, as always, by Dan Castellaneta) bringing his son Bart (Nancy Cartwright) to a Springfield Isotopes baseball game at the local minor-league stadium to witness a historic record being broken.
Unfortunately for them, a publicity stunt for a Taylor Swift-esque pop singer/songwriter named Ashlee Starling (guest star Jade Novah from That’s My Jam) blocks their view during the exact moment the record– which involves the most beanballs thrown by a pitcher– is broken during the game. Homer is interviewed by newsman Kent Brockman (Harry Shearer) afterward, and repeats an insult that Bart told him earlier about Starling, which makes the boy pretend not to know him. Bart knows how vicious certain groups of fans can be, and he immediately distances himself from Homer, who soon finds himself facing the wrath of the Starling “Army” while driving to work. A plague of not-so-safe practical jokes follows in various moments of Homer’s day-to-day life, and we soon learn that his daughter Lisa (Yeardley Smith) is behind the attacks, due to her having been a dedicated Ashlee Starling fan since she was four years old. Eventually things get so bad that Homer is beckoned to the home of Echo (also Novah), a Beyoncé-like megastar who’s evidently had a public feud going with Starling for years.
Echo enlists Homer to go to war with Ashlee’s fans, a request that he is more than happy to oblige. This prank war escalates further and further, with Bart joining Lisa’s side by offering her his handy notebook full of potential pranks to play on Homer, and Marge being supplied alcohol at a dinner that she quite suspiciously “wins” with Starling, only to have the many secrets she spills that evening turned into an epic tell-all music video a la Swift’s “All too Well.” Homer is so devastated by these betrayals that he approaches Echo about creating a diss track about his family, but she counteroffers by having Homer make an “I’ve been dissed” track, in the vein of Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” album and videos. This gesture of unbridled honesty earns Homer the love and respect of his family back, and he’s even able to put aside his differences with the Starling fans by the credits.
This is all a very out-there premise for Our Favorite Family, but it’s executed so well that I’m absolutely willing to get past the implausibility. Seriously, there are so many great jokes in this episode that I often found myself needing to catch my breath as the scenes went by. A favorite example would be Marge offering to start calling “all the theme-park jails” when Homer goes missing after becoming upset, but the running gag of the show’s characters trying not to upset real-world BTS fans by insulting them is a good one as well. Plus, this episode ends with another dig at organized religion by comparing it to so-called “psychotic super-fandom,” so I can’t complain there either. As over-the-top as this story gets, it’s the laughs that win out in the end in what I’d probably call The Simpsons’ funniest episode in a long while.
New episodes of The Simpsons air Sunday evenings on FOX.