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Recap / The Simpsons S12 E12 "Tennis the Menace"

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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 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.
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  • Art Evolution: The quality of the digital art has noticeably improved since "Radioactive Man".
  • 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."
  • Blatant Lies: Homer assures Lisa they're not entering the tournament out of spite, then tells her to aim for her mother's heart.
  • Captain Obvious: It's pretty easy to beat a suspect in shackles, chief.
  • The Ditz: Homer is so bad at tennis, he calls his tennis racket a "tennis stick."
  • 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.
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  • Get Out!: After Kent Brockman accidentally misreads 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. That, or he was simply too dumb to realize people are laughing AT him, not with him.
  • Groin Attack: Homer sets himself up for one by holding open his pants with the intent on catching a tennis ball. Oh, did he ever.
  • 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 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:
    • Surprisingly, Marge is an even bigger jerkass in this episode than Homer. He 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 outright 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.
    • 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:
    • Despite Homer being annoying and petty as usual in this episode, 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."
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Grampa is understandably annoyed when Homer completely abandons the plans for his burial for a Half Way Plot Switch.
  • 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? "It's better to watch stuff than do stuff."
  • "Stop Having Fun" Guys: Marge ends up being this, not caring whether she (or Homer) has fun, as long as she's on the winning team.
  • 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.


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