Recap / The Simpsons S 6 E 11 Fear Of Flying
Episode - 2F08
First Aired - 12/18/1994

Homer gets banned from Moe's Tavern after playing a lame prank, and uses an airport bar as his new watering hole, but when Homer is mistaken for a pilot and causes an accident, the head of the airline pays him off with a vacation to anywhere in the United States (except for the freak states, Alaska and Hawaii). However, the trip is short-lived, when Marge has a mental breakdown before the flight. Marge assures the family that she's fine, but when her erratic behavior begins freaking out the family, Marge goes into therapy to find out why she's afraid of flying.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Absurd Phobia: A quick gag reveals that Homer is deathly afraid of sock puppets.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: When Bart learns that Marge has a fear of flying:
    Bart: So much for the days when I could say, "At least my mother's normal."
  • Analogy Backfire: Homer insists to Lisa that Marge's therapist will convince her to divorce Homer, the family will break up, and Lisa will have to live with her grandmother and pick beans for a living. Lisa states she likes picking beans with grandma, and a miffed Homer tries to get the last word in:
    Homer: Well, keep it up then.
    Lisa: Okay, I will.
    Homer: Good. You do that.
    Lisa: Fine.
    Homer: You'll be picking many a bean.
    Lisa: Hope I do.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Homer upon discovering a man identical to himself lying knocked out in front of Moe's:
    (Gasp) Oh, my god, this man is my exact double! (GASP) That dog has a puffy tail! (chases dog) Here puff, here puff! (giggles)
  • Bait-and-Switch: Marge visits a psychiatrist in the hopes of combating her fear. Bart then spots Principal Skinner in the office, who then tries to hide his face by lifting up a magazine as a disguise, only for him to be on the cover of the issue itself (and making the exact same face, no less.)
    • Homer is looking for a new drinking hole and wanders into the 'She She Lounge' full of butch women:
    Homer: Wait a minute... there's something bothering me about this place... I know! This lesbian bar doesn't have a fire exit! Enjoy your death trap, ladies!
    • A man going by the suspicious name "Guy Incognito" enters Moe's Tavern for a drink. He looks and sounds just like Homer, only with a fancy suit, top hat, and mustache. Having been previously banned from the establishment, the patrons beat him up and throw him out...just in time for Homer to walk by and catch his double lying unconscious on the pavement.
  • Black Comedy Cannibalism: When Marge's fear of flying resurfaces, Homer tries buying movies of planes to help calm her. Of course he chooses Alive on the basis of its title.
    Passenger: (eating sounds) Pass another hunk of Copilot.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Hilariously subverted, Homer is banned from Moes and explores Springfield for another drinking location, at one point ending up in the She-She lounge, obviously a lesbian bar. Homer looks around noticing something is wrong with the bar, then realises "This Lesbian bar has no fire exit. Enjoy your death trap ladies." and leaves the bar. The comically missing the point trope is then played again as Homer leaves, a lesbian looks at Homer leaving and asks "What's her problem?"
  • Compressed Vice: Marge wasn't afraid of flying when the family flew to Washington, D.C. in the previous episode "Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington."
  • Deconstructive Parody: The scene where Homer goes to Cheers treats Norm's alcoholism in a much more realistic manner (namely that he slurs his speech and tries to attack Woody when he gets cut off).
  • Decoy Protagonist: The episode starts with Homer trying to find a new bar, but then suddenly switches to Marge dealing with her acrophobia.
  • Freudian Excuse: Marge's fear of flying comes from seeing her father as a male flight attendant (steward). This is followed by a montage of other traumatic plane-related incidents.
  • From Bad to Worse: After the fact that her dad was a steward seems to be the trigger for her phobia, Zweig says they are making progress only for Marge to point out three more traumatic things: her (almost-blind) grandmother nearly poking her eye out while doing the "here comes the plane" trick to spoon-feed her as a baby, a toy airplane she had as a kid catching fire, and being attacked by a maniac gunman flying a biplane when she and her mom were visiting a corn field.
  • Gay Bar Reveal: Humorously subverted when Homer goes to a very obviously lesbian bar after getting banned from Moe's:
    Homer: Wait a minute... there's something bothering me about this place...[looks around] I know! This lesbian bar doesn't have a FIRE EXIT! Enjoy your deathtrap, ladies!
    Lesbian: What was her problem?
  • I Take Offense to That Last One!: The patrons of Moe's Tavern proceed to play pranks on Moe. Lenny causes him to get bit by a cobra, Barney causes him to be lit on fire, and Homer simply winds up causing some sugar to be spilled. And of course, Homer's prank causes him to be banned from the bar for life.
    Barney: We were just messing around, but you went too far!
  • Identical Stranger: Guy Incognito, who looks exactly like Homer except with a mustache, and sounds almost exactly like him, except with an upper-class kind of voice. Homer is amazed until he sees a dog with a puffy tail.
  • It's All About Me: Homer was completely against Marge going to therapy because he believed that he would be blamed for all of Marge's problems. Sure enough, Homer tries spying on Marge's sessions and makes demands that she tell him what they discussed. Of course, Homer is actually correct because Dr. Zweig truly believes Marge needs to talk about how Homer treats her.
  • It's Probably Nothing: Grandpa joins the Simpsons in their aborted first flight. The family returns home afterwards without him, though Bart suspects they've forgotten something. After a brief cutaway of Grandpa screaming on the plane ala Kevin McCallister in Home Alone, Homer dismisses the notion, saying, "I'm sure it's nothing."
  • Jerksss: One of Young Marge's friends for saying The Monkees weren't a real band.
  • Moral Myopia: The patrons of Moe's bar play a sequence of increasingly brutal practical jokes on their publican, all of which he takes in good humor (such as lighting his clothes on fire and HIDING A COBRA in the cash register which repeatedly bites him). Lastly, Homer plays the innocuous "Loose Salt Shaker Lid" gag on Moe and immediately gets chewed out by his friends and barred from entry. Of course, this is the joke.
  • My Beloved Smother: A Freudian Slip from Skinner is the Trope Namer.
  • Offer Void In Nebraska: The free tickets Homer gets from Krazy Klown Airlines are for "anywhere in the United States, excluding Alaska and Hawaii, the freak states." Of course, in the very next scene, Bart and Lisa immediately suggest going to those states.
  • Properly Paranoid: Homer is convinced Dr. Zweig will blame him for all of Marge's problems. This is in fact the first thing she does.
  • Random Events Plot: Homer gets thrown out of Moe's, which leads to him finding a new bar to drink in, which results in him wrecking an airliner, leading to a coverup that uncovers Marge being afraid to fly, and the rest of the episode is about Marge getting therapy for it.
  • Riddle for the Ages: How or why is Guy Incognito an exact double of Homer? Then again, considering that Abe has two other children from different mothers...
  • Sanity Slippage:
    • Marge begins acting strangely from not talking about her phobia, which includes being up at 3 in the morning cooking and doing roof repairs, insisting the cat and dog need to be married, and keeping herself in a state of "catlike readiness." Homer finally concedes to Marge seeing a therapist when it's pointed out she's sitting in mid-air watching an airplane disaster movie.
    • Homer, when Marge starts therapy.
  • Selective Condemnation: Everyone in the bar, who had Moe bitten by a cobra and set on fire, yet when Homer does a harmless loose sugar cap prank, they all call him out on it and ban him from the bar.
  • Separated by a Common Language: Referenced in Homer's rant about wanting to take a vacation:
    Homer: I'm sick of eating "hoagies". I want a "grinder", a "sub", a "foot-long hero"!
  • Series Continuity Error: Marge wasn't afraid of flying when the family flew to Washington, D.C. in "Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington". Also, her father looks different than the one from "The Way We Was" (the episode that tells the story of how Homer and Marge first met when they were in high school) and in "Bart the Lover", Marge said that her father was in the navy and had a job as a baby photographer (which he nearly lost due to his constant cursing), though Marge's mom could have tried to cover up her husband's airline job as a male flight attendant from Marge until she could come up with a believable lie about his job (in the episode, Marge's mom tells her that her father was a pilot).
  • Shout-Out:
    • Homer visits the bar from the TV sitcom Cheers, where the main cast (except Kelsey Grammer) voices their characters from the show.
    • Homer tries to cure Marge by giving her some "films about air travel" with "upbeat titles": Hero, Fearless and Alive.
    • Marge and her mother fleeing from a plane in a cornfield is a reference to North By Northwest.
    • Marge's dream casts her family in Lost in Space, earning a disapproving comment from the therapist that she's "infringed on any number of copyrights" (ironically, with both shows produced by 20th Century Fox, it should be all right).
    • When Marge finishes her therapy, she says "Thank you Doctor, whenever I hear the wind blow, I'll hear the name Lowenstein, Lowenstein...", a reference to The Prince Of Tides. The fact that the therapist's name is Zweig doesn't stop her.
    • One of the things that happened to Marge in her youth to traumatize her and create her fear was being shot at by a crop-dusting biplane, a la North By Northwest.
  • Special Guest: Anne Bancroft as Dr. Zweig; Ted Danson as Sam Malone; Woody Harrelson as Woody Boyd; Rhea Perlman as Carla Tortelli; John Ratzenberger as Cliff Clavin; George Wendt as Norm Peterson. Bancroft's husband Mel Brooks accompanied her to the recordings, with her saying "I can't get rid of him!" This led to Brooks getting his own appearance in "Homer vs. Patty and Selma".
  • Therapy Backfire: Throughout the episode, Homer is paranoid about Dr. Zweig brainwashing Marge into blaming Homer for everything wrong with her life and abandoning him (because he has seen it happen to other men, he says... to be fair, Homer can be blamed for a lot of bad things happening to Marge, but he seems to believe Dr. Zweig will do nothing other than that) and thus keeps on trying to meddle with the therapy (most probably leaving a bad first impression). After Marge obtains some Epiphany Therapy regarding her fear of flying, Dr. Zweig does try to talk to Marge about "the big problem" that is Homer... only for Homer to barge into the office (he had been listening through the door) and take Marge away.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Moe does this by throwing Homer out of his bar and refusing to let him come back.
  • Unscrewed Salt Shaker: Homer plays the sugar variation. This is actually deconstructed by showing how someone in real life would react. Homer ends up banned from Moe's, being forced to look for another place to hang out, triggering the events for the episode.
  • The Voiceless: Frasier Crane during the Cheers segment. According to the DVD Commentary, they just couldn't work out a time where Kelsey Grammer could've recorded some lines for this episode.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Homer's quest to find a new bar after getting banned from Moe's isn't addressed again after Marge reveals her fear of flying.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Marge admits to her fear of flying and later says everyone has something they're afraid of.
    Homer: (smugly) Not everyone.
    Marge: Sock puppets.
    Homer: Where?! WHERE?! (runs off screaming)