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Recap / The Simpsons S12 E5 "Homer vs. Dignity"

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Original air date: 11/26/2000

Production code: CABF-04

The One With… the panda.

With the family in dire straits once again, Homer decides to ask Mr. Burns for a raise, but Burns has a better plan: hire Homer as his personal jester (or "prank monkey") while Smithers takes time off to go to New Mexico to star in a musical he wrote about Malibu Stacy. But when the pranks escalate to being gross and humiliating, Homer must choose between making money for his family or retaining his dignity.

"Homer vs. Dignity" contains examples of:

  • And I'm the Queen of Sheba: When Homer shows up asking to buy a mint condition issue #1 of Spider-Man, Comic Book Guy quips "And I'd like an hour on the holodeck with Seven of Nine.". But when Homer presents a Briefcase Full of Money, Comic Book Guy obliges until Homer starts tearing the pages out and eating them one by one.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Played for Black Comedy when the banker helping the Wiggums asks Clancy what may happen if he doesn't gets hit with Retirony. Clancy acts insulted and his wife starts crying at the idea he won't get killed before he retires.
  • As Herself: Leeza Gibbons, commenting on the parade.
  • Bad Santa: Burns tries to pay Homer to act as one in the parade, throwing fish guts onto the crowd. Homer refuses and Burns takes up the role himself.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: When Bart was telling how he got his "A", how many viewers thought he'd say he blackmailed Principal Skinner and Mrs. Krabappel (since he did it before on "Grade School Confidential")?
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: Homer is implicitly raped by a panda, which is seen as atrocious both in and out of universe.
  • Black Comedy Rape: The infamous "panda scene". It should be noted that it thankfully occurs off-screen (and we don't know if it actually had sex with Homer or just humped the costume).
  • Broke Episode: The Simpsons are broke. Homer's poor health makes him uninsurable and he's too stupid not to blow any money he gets. He's bluntly told by a financial planner he needs more money.
  • Brutal Honesty: Lindsay Naegle about the Simpson's financial state. She tells Homer he's too dumb to follow any money-saving plans.
  • Butt-Monkey: Homer does not fare well in this episode. Also, Lenny for being repeatedly hit in the eye, the last time immediately after taking his eyepatch off.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When Lindsey Naegle shows Homer and Marge a simulation of the family becoming poor and wrecked, Homer remarks "Marge, your posture looks terrible".
  • Crazy-Prepared: Knowing Mr. Burns would try to throw him down the trap down when asked for a personal request, Smithers disabled the button first.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Homer imagines himself siccing a black panther onto a creditor to get out of paying one dollar.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Burns pays Homer to throw pudding into Lenny's eyes despite Homer's protests that Lenny's a war hero. Both laugh at Lenny's misfortune and Burns takes more sadistic pleasure when Homer throws another pudding dessert into Lenny's other eye. But when Homer hits Carl in the eyes with pudding, Burns is appalled.
    Mr. Burns: What are you doing, man? That's Carl!
  • Every Man Has His Price: This is Burns' outlook and Homer proves him right for a long time.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Downplayed and parodied: to take his mind off of Skinner and Krabappel, Bart puts all of his attention on memorizing the planets of the Solar System. When the time for a test on the subject comes, Bart already has the information locked into his head. He calls it, "a whole different kind of cheating", apparently unaware it was just studying.
  • Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: Mr. Burns was never a jovial old man, but this episode shows the depraved depths he's willing to explore in order to get a cheap laugh. First, he has Homer throw pudding into Lenny's eye repeatedly because he finds Lenny wincing in pain funny, though he objects to Carl being subjected to the same treatment. Homer doesn't mind being Burns' "prank monkey," since Mr. Burns gives him a couple of bucks after a stunt like eating a rare Spider-Man #1 in front a of distraught Comic Book Guy. However, soon after that Homer starts having doubts about his new position when getting run over by a bicycle has Mr. start laughing, and when Mr. Burns has Homer wear a diaper and pretend to be a baby in the bathroom of a stadium. What causes Homer to quit being Burns' "prank monkey" was getting sexually assaulted by a panda at the zoo, which caused Burns to laugh like a madman while Homer pleaded for help, and because Lisa told him to save what little dignity he had left. At the Thanksgiving parade, Mr. Burns offers Homer one million dollars to chuck fish guts at the crowd, but when Homer refuses, Burns merrily does the deed himself.
  • Eye Scream: Pudding and fish guts being thrown into Lenny's eyes
  • For the Evulz/For the Lulz: Burns paying Homer to make a fool out of himself.
  • Gilligan Cut: When Homer tauntingly asks what the restaurant is going to make the Simpsons' do to pay for the meal, make them work it off as a mariachi band, it cuts to do them doing just that.
  • Happy Birthday to You!: A variation, "Happy First 'A'", is sung to Bart at the beginning of the episode when the family goes to the Singing Sirloin to celebrate—what else?—Bart getting his first "A".
  • Have a Gay Old Time: Mr. Burns considers Homer, his "prank monkey", more amusing than Smithers and says the latter doesn't know the meaning of "gay".
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: When praised for his generosity Homer morosely notes that he's just trying to lift himself out of the shame that came from getting the money to start with.
  • Humiliation Conga: Homer gets put through this over the entire course of this episode. First, he can’t pay for an expensive meal, and gets forced to Work Off the Debt as a Mariachi band. Then he reveals that his car has neither gas nor seats, due to him stupidly buying a novelty horn, followed by his financial planner showing him that he’ll only become poorer after death. While becoming Burns’ flunky seems to make things better, he still gets forced to get run over by a bicycle, and publicly humiliate himself in a bathroom, followed by getting sexually assaulted by a panda.
  • Insistent Terminology: Lindsey Neagle is a financial planner, not a financial consultant.
  • It Will Never Catch On: Mr. Burns laughs off Smithers' play about Malibu Stacey, sarcastically saying he should write a musical about the common cat or the King of Siam.
  • Jerkass:
    • The Santa obsessed boy is quite rude, as when Lisa reassures him that Santa is coming, he snaps at her. Sure enough, Laser-Guided Karma kicks in when Mr. Burns dressed as Santa tosses fish guts at him.
    • Charles Montgomery Burns spends the whole episode showing that Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor and has no problem doing pranks that will harm and traumatize both grown ups and children alike while he laughs like a madman at their misfortune. The only time he actually regrets doing a prank is when Homer hits Carl with pudding, and technically speaking that wasn't done on Burns' orders.
  • Kick the Dog: A whole episode full, done by Mr. Burns to Homer.
  • Kill the Creditor: Homer has an Imagine Spot of killing someone he owes money to (one dollar) with a panther.
  • Kill the Poor: When Homer wonders what to don't with his dirty money, Lisa comments there're poor kids. Thinking she wants them gone, Homer says he's buying a weapon.
  • Logo Joke: This was one of the episodes that repeated characters' lines for the Gracie Films logo.
    Homer: Baby made a boom-boom.
  • Mondegreen Gag: At the beginning, Homer mishears "financial planner" as "financial panther" and has an Imagine Spot of siccing a black leopard onto a creditor.
  • Naked People Are Funny: A Running Gag involves Homer being accidentally stripped to the nude and shocking a passing dowager into fainting.
  • Noodle Incident: When asked why he didn't help Homer in the infamous panda scene
    Mr. Burns: Too busy keeping my sides from splitting. [in a matter-of-fact tone] It's happened before.
    • Mr. Costington isn't allowed on the third floor of his own store due to a "shoe sniffing problem" he has.
  • Resignations Not Accepted: After being convinced by Lisa, Homer tells Mr. Burns he quits doing pranks. However, when Homer is riding in the parade, Burns boards his float, insisting he still is his "prank monkey' and wanting him to throw fish guts at everyone.
  • Retirony: The Trope Namer. Mentioned when Chief Wiggum tells his financial planner that he's not going to create a retirement fund since he's a police officer, and, according to many cop shows and police movies, an officer who's only X amount of days from retirement (and tells his partner about what he's gonna do when he retires — usually, it'll be something like spending more time with his wife and kids) will always get murdered on the job. When the planner asks what he will do if he isn't shot, Sarah Wiggum burst into tears and Clancy is highly insulted.
  • Rule of Three: Lenny gets hit in the eye three times.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: While it at first seems like Homer is willing to do anything for money, he eventually gets sick of it and decides to donate his ill-gotten gains to charity. He is later tempted by Mr. Burns to throw fish guts at Costington's Thanksgiving Day Parade for one million dollars, though he ultimately rejects this, forcing Mr. Burns to do the prank himself.
  • Shout-Out: Burns' antics are a nod to the The Magic Christian.
  • Skewed Priorities: Lindsay Naegle bluntly points out this is a big part of Homer's problem. He's too stupid to not waste his money. When the kids notice that their family's car doesn't have back seats, Homer says he sold them to have money for fuel. The car then runs out of fuel and Homer says he spent that money on a novelty horn.
  • Tempting Fate: At the parade, Lenny says he can take his patch off his eye for five minutes a day, and Carl says that's just enough time to see Santa. Cue fish guts hitting Lenny in the face.
  • Thanksgiving Episode: Near the end of the episode.
  • Tiny Tim Template: There is a British boy wearing an outfit resembling that of Tiny Tim's, and he is excited to see the Santa Claus float at the parade. He however, does not appear to be disabled, and is quite happy. One unlucky thing that happens to him though is that the guy who dressed up as Santa Claus (who is really Mr. Burns) throws fish guts at him.
  • Toilet Humor: "Baby made a boom-boom."
  • Trap-Door Fail: When Smithers approaches Mr. Burns for a personal favor, Burns tries to drop him down his trapdoor, but Smithers had disabled it.
  • Versus Title: Homer vs. Dignity.
  • Walking Disaster Area: Homer is acknowledged to be one of these (and a ticking time bomb of medical maladies courtesy of his slovenly lifestyle) by an insurance company and they absolutely refuse to insure him as a result.