Recap: The Simpsons S 8 E 23 Homers Enemy

Episode - 4F19
First Aired - 5/4/1997

A normal man named Frank Grimes who has had to work hard every day of his life with little reward gets a job at the nuclear plant and takes an instant dislike to Homer and his Achievements in Ignorance. Meanwhile, Bart wins an abandoned factory at an auction and uses it as his own personal playground.

This episode contains examples of (YMMV tropes can be found here):

  • Berserk Button: Grimes doesn't like being called "Grimey" or "Stretch." It is a relatively small button, however, compared to the very prospect of someone like Homer having a much more successful lifestyle than himself.
  • Black Comedy Burst: One which apparently tainted the series' legacy of being biting, but lighthearted, not outright sick and twisted, like Family Guy and South Park.
  • Brick Joke: Early in the episode, Mr. Burns orders Smithers to find a dog he saw on the news and to make him his executive vice president. A few scenes later, when Grimes knocked acid out of Homer's hand and the acid burned a hole in the wall, Mr. Burns is walking by with the dog that Smithers was ordered to find.
  • Broken Aesop: Word of God said they wanted to show that a real person could not survive in the show's universe, except they did it by making Homer look worse than he really was in order to make Frank Grimes look better. What's worse is that Frank's mental breakdown and death, which were supposedly caused by Homer, was really his own fault. Homer had offered to make amends with Frank, but Frank didn't want anything to do with it, and he immediately put everything into destroying Homer. It doesn't help that they made Frank's life excessively miserable before he even met Homer.
  • Call Back: Grimes sees photos of Homer as an astronaut (from "Deep Space Homer") and meeting President Ford (which happened at the end of "Two Bad Neighbors").
    • The Chew Toy: Frank Grimes, and it isn't played for laughs, or at least it's not supposed to since it seems his entire purpose in life is to suffer.
  • Downer Ending: Played for incredibly dark laughs.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Homer nicknames Frank Grimes "Grimey'", which the latter hates.
  • Entitled Bastard: Frank Grimes has shades of this during his worst moments; adopting a self-righteous and borderline narcissistic attitude born out of resentment and petty jealousy. This ultimately overshadows his merit as The Determinator and makes the audience turn against him in favor of Homer who, despite his stupidity and irresponsibility, comes off as being the better person.
  • Expy: Frank Grimes is based on Michael Douglas' character, Bill Foster, from Falling Down.
  • The Everyman: Frank Grimes is supposed to represent the viewer in this episode — a man who is no way remarkable, who never got any breaks, and had to work hard every day of his life, with little to no rewards. Normally, it's Homer that we're supposed to feel the viewer embodies, a middle class worker with a nuclear family and somewhat below average intelligence. However, this episode lampshades how un-average Homer's life actually is compared to how we are supposed to perceive him and how successful he is despite his low intelligence, laziness and thoughtlessness, receiving no consequences for his reckless actions — for himself at least.
  • Everybody Laughs Ending: One of the darkest examples.
  • Evil Laugh: Frank gives one when Homer falls for the "design your own power plant" contest.
  • Foreshadowing: When Frank Grimes asks Lenny and Carl how someone like Homer could be safety inspector Carl simply says, "It's best not to think about it."
  • High Voltage Death: How Frank Grimes ultimately meets his demise.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: While Grimes's life is made excessively miserable, the idea of an incompetent, lazy slob having a much more successful lifestyle than a sane, hard-working individual would enrage anyone — especially if they are that individual.
    • In universe. When Grimes says that if Homer lived in any other country in the world he'd have starved to death a long time ago. To which Bart says, "He's got you there dad."
  • Kafka Komedy: Grimes tries his hardest to expose Homer as a fraud, liar, cheat, and incompetent employee — only for fate to foil Grimes at every turn. The coup de grace comes when Grimes tricks Homer into thinking a "Design Your Own Power Plant" contest is open to anyone, when it's really for elementary school students only. When Homer wins and is praised and lauded for his efforts, Grimes reveals the truth. And when he is ignored and/or told to "lighten up," Grimes goes berserkand it winds up killing him.
  • Mood Whiplash: The Bart/Milhouse subplot seemed inserted precisely to be an infrequent breather from the Dark Comedy of the main plot.
  • Mundane Luxury: Grimes is dumbfounded that Homer lives in a modest two-story home, which is downright palatial compared to his own apartment, which was located over a bowling alley and below another bowling alley. He is also shocked that they're dining on lobster, which Homer was only serving to impress Grimes.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Both Grimes and Homer. Grimes saved Homer from drinking sulfuric acid, damaging a wall and getting himself in trouble with Burns. Homer, upset about having made an enemy, tried to make it up to him by inviting to his house for dinner, only for Grimes to castigate him for being lazy and living comfortably.
  • Only Sane Man: Grimes
    • Also Marge, who is about the one person to understand the reason for his animosity towards Homer, and empathetically convinces her husband to show his point of view and that he is worthy (albeit haplessly).
  • Plot Hole: Kent Brockman's report at the beginning of the episode show Grimes living in a normal house, yet later in the episode the latter claims to live between two bowling alleys — "above a bowling alley below another bowling alley." Then again, knowing his luck, Frank's house was probably destroyed in some disaster, forcing him to move into that one-room apartment.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    Frank: God, I've had to work hard every day of my life, and what do I have to show for it? This briefcase, and this haircut! And what do you have to show for your lifetime of sloth and ignorance?
    Homer: What?
    Frank: Everything! A dream house! Two cars! A beautiful wife! A son who owns a factory! Fancy clothes and (sniffs air) lobsters for dinner! And do you deserve any of it? No!
    Homer: (gasps) What are you saying?
    Frank: I'm saying you're what's wrong with America, Simpson. You coast through life, you do as little as possible, and you leech off of decent, hardworking people like me. Heh, if you lived in any other country in the world, you'd have starved to death long ago.
    Bart: He's got you there, Dad.
  • Somebody Doesn't Love Raymond: Homer is upset that Frank Grimes hates him. Later, Moe tries to comfort Homer by saying that there are people who don't like him, too. Homer refuses to accept this.