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Recap / The Simpsons S12 E12 "Tennis the Menace"

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"You're dumping your own daughter?"
"Yeah, but only to crush my wife and son."

Original air date: 2/11/2001 (produced in 2000)

Production code: CABF-07

The Simpsons install a tennis court in their backyard after Homer is told that a mausoleum he wants for the still-alive Grandpa Simpson would need enough concrete for a tennis court — and it (the tennis court) ends up tearing the family apart when Homer's goofing off becomes gossip fodder for the neighborhood and Marge decides to trade him in for Bart.



  • Art Shift: Like season seven's "Radioactive Man," this episode used digital ink and paint while the show was still using cels. The quality of the digital art has noticeably improved since that episode.
  • Bait-and-Switch: During the nightmare, Bart explains Homer's demise:
    "He thought that trip to the guillotine factory was just for fun. Little did he know it was the perfect place to shoot him."
  • Both Sides Have a Point: See Jerkass Has a Point below.
  • Cameo Cluster: Ends with the Simpsons' spots in the charity game taken over by real life tennis stars Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, and Venus and Serena Williams.
  • Captain Obvious: Lou, when he and Chief Wiggum are laughing about the Simpsons' tennis skills:
    Lou: The Simpsons? You mean the L.A. Clippers of backyard tennis?
    Wiggum: Yeah, they're easier to beat than a suspect in shackles!
    Lou: Pretty easy to beat a suspect in shackles, Chief.
    Wiggum: Well, that's the joke, Lou. It's on the Simpsons and their easy beatability.
  • The Ditz:
    • Homer is so bad at tennis, he calls his tennis racket a "tennis stick" and thinks "tennis" is the same as foxy boxing (or, as he calls it, "the sport where chicks whale on each other").
    • After a game, Lenny says he's never met anyone with their own "tennis rink."
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Barney is always barefoot whenever he's seen playing.
  • Earpiece Conversation: Kent Brockman charms Homer and Marge by making one witty remark after another during their tennis game. When Homer asks him how he does it, he nervously looks to his earpiece and the scene cuts to a news van feeding him snappy lines.
  • Exact Words: The Nightmare Sequence, after Marge compliments Bart on being a superior husband to Homer, he then replies "I may have the looks, but he's the trophy husband". Indeed, the camera then pans over to his head mounted on the wall.
  • Flushing Toilet, Screaming Shower: Bart turns on the kitchen faucet while Homer is showering, and finds that he can play Homer's screams like a musical instrument. He first makes him shriek to “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, then to Beethoven.
  • Get Out!: After Kent Brockman accidentally mishears a line sent to him on his earbud, Homer lowly tells him to get off his property.
  • Graceful Loser: Unlike Marge, Homer cares more about having fun and making his friends laugh than winning, when Marge tells him they're the laughing stock of the town he was more worried about upstaging Dingbat Charlie.
  • Groin Attack: Homer sets himself up for one by holding open his pants with the intent on catching a tennis ball.
  • Hidden Depths: Bart and Lisa are actually quite good at tennis — arguably better than Marge and definitely better than Homer.
  • Historical Character Confusion: "I'm Andre Agassi." "The wrestler?"
  • Human Chess: Mr. Burns and Smithers play tennis on the Simpsons' court because Mr. Burns turned his personal court into a human chessboard. As soon as the chessboard is left alone, the people on it beat up the king and run away.
  • Human Head on the Wall: Homer has a nightmare about Bart displaying his head on the wall (after a trip to the guillotine factory, which was the perfect place to shoot him).
  • Jerkass Ball:
    • Even though Homer ends up getting a tennis court in the backyard and has fun with it and makes his friends and neighbors laugh and enjoy themselves, Marge gets embarrassed and tells him to stop having fun and play seriously. Plus once Homer signs them up for a just for fun tournament to see how they do, she immediately ditches him for Bart and barely expresses any remorse throughout the entire episode. To be fair, Homer signed them up without even discussing it with Marge first and he never even bothered or planned to practice.
    • The townspeople mocking Marge and Homer behind their backs and laughing at them, particularly Helen Lovejoy for suggesting that they enjoy the humiliation of losing.
    • Homer has no qualms with having a petty tennis match with his wife and even tells Lisa to aim for her heart. Later, he has no problems with dumping Lisa for Venus Williams, which both she and Serena call him out on. (Marge also follows suit by ditching Bart for Serena.)
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Both Marge and Homer.
    • Despite Homer being annoying and petty, he's allowed to have fun playing tennis even if Marge is being a Sore Loser.
    • Marge was also justified being angry at Homer after she had overheard much of the Springfield citizens insulting them behind their backs about how they suck at tennis (mostly due to Homer’s incompetence), making them a laughingstock.
  • Noodle Incident: It's never explained why the school banned hats.
  • Oedipus Complex: Homer's nightmare is Bart killing him and marrying Marge.
  • Or Was It a Dream?: Parodied when Homer wakes up from his nightmare, sees a picture of Bart, and says in a scared tone, "That's the guy from my dream."
  • Sadly Mythtaken: Lisa simply describes Oedipus as the story where Oedipus kills his father and marries his mother, leading to a very misleading fantasy by Homer. Anyone who actually knows the story knows it's a lot more complicated than that.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Grampa is understandably annoyed when Homer completely abandons the plans for his burial.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Special Guest: Tennis players Serena and Venus Williams, Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras make guest appearances in the episode and attend Krusty's tennis tournament. After noticing the sisters in the audience, Homer and Marge swap their kids for Venus and Serena respectively, before being eventually kicked off by the two male players. All four pros end up being the ones to play the doubles match.
  • Spoof Aesop: After spending a good chunk of the episode trying to one-up each other in tennis and eventually being kicked out of their matches as a result of their petty fight, the lesson the family gets from this is "It's better to watch stuff than do stuff."
  • Tempting Fate: Homer gloats about being the last family member in the match after the kids are replaced by the Williams sisters and Marge gets replaced by Pete Sampras. Right afterward, Andre Agassi nonchalantly "yoinks" his tennis racket and declares he's taking Homer's place, kicking him off the court.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Serena and Venus Williams are horrified and call Homer out when he asks them to not only take Lisa's place in his doubles match because she's dragging him down, but to also help him beat Marge and Bart. Homer ends up taking Venus as his partner since she apparently seems less disgusted.