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Recap / The Simpsons S 19 E 7 Husbands And Knives

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At the Android's Dungeon, Comic Book Guy is being his usual abrasive, condescending self, and when Bart protests his treatment of his customers, CBG sarcastically suggests they get their comics somewhere else - only to see another comic book store, Coolsville, opening across the street. The shop and its proprietor, Milo (voiced by Jack Black), are everything the Android's Dungeon is not - Milo is young, trendy, and believes that comics should be read and enjoyed, and that his customers' opinions are just as worth hearing as his own. At a signing by Alan Moore, Art Spiegelman, and Dan Clowes, Comic Book Guy tries to get his customers back by revealing that Milo is not a true comic book geek, as he has a girlfriend, Strawberry (but the kids already know this, as she's a Coolsville regular). CBG then unveils his stock of Asian weapons, but when he is called out on the irresponsibility of selling them to children, he tries to smash up the store, only for the three comic artists to beat him senseless.

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Meanwhile, as Marge drops Bart and Lisa off at the signing, she poses with a Wonder Woman cutout and notices that her figure is not what it once was, so she heads to the gym. However, she struggles with a treadmill and discovers that the showers look out onto the street, so she decides to start Shapes, a gym for average women, in the former Android's Dungeon. Shapes is a resounding success, and soon she has opened multiple branches and is attending business conferences and appearing on television.

Homer initially enjoys the fruits of Marge's success, until the trophy second husbands of rich businesswomen point out that he is in danger of being replaced by a younger, more handsome model. Rather than taking better care of himself, he decides to have gastric band surgery, but while he succeeds in losing weight, he is left with large flaps of excess skin, and decides to have every plastic surgery going to improve his appearance. He meets up with Marge as she is receiving a commendation from Mayor Quimby, but his many surgeries have plunged him deep into the Uncanny Valley, and the audience at the commendation take up Torches and Pitchforks and chase Homer and Marge to Notre Dame de Springfield Cathedral. At the top of the bell tower, Marge tells Homer that she is, indeed, going to leave him for a younger man, and pushes him over the edge...

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...whereupon he wakes up in his hospital bed, revealing that everything after his gastric band surgery was All Just a Dream. Deciding she loves Homer as he is, Marge insisted the surgeon reverse the surgery. The episode ends with Moore, Spiegelman, and Clowes watching Homer and Marge walking arm-in-arm, before ignoring a meteor heading for the Earth in favour of an underpaid comic artists' convention with a cash bar.


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Tropes:

  • Aborted Arc: The Halfway Plot Switch in this episode is particularly stark, with Comic Book Guy essentially serving as a Decoy Protagonist. The first act of the episode focuses on the competition he receives from a new comic book store, which eventually leads to him being forced to shut down the Android's Dungeon. This is all a lead-in to Marge opening a women's gym in the space, with the rest of the episode dealing with Homer's responses to her success. While the Android's Dungeon is obviously back in business in subsequent episodes, we never find out how it happens.
  • All Just a Dream: Everything from the aftermath of Homer's stomach stapling surgery to his apparent death turns out to have occurred in Homer's mind.
  • As Himself: Alan Moore, Art Spiegelman and Dan Clowes appear as themselves, signing copies of their books at Coolsville. Moore's disgust at film adaptations of his work is played up, while Clowes reveals that he secretly wants to work for one of the big comic publishers.
  • Badass Bookworm: For being known as quirky indie comic writers, Alan Moore, Art Spiegelman and Dan Clowes are remarkably ripped.
  • Body Horror: How Homer ended up looking after the numerous cosmetic operations. The climax reveals this as All Just a Dream.
  • Break the Haughty: It's revealed that Comic Book Guy feels free to be continuously rude and dismissive to his young customers because he owns the only comic book shop in town and they have no choice but to shop with him. This comes back to bite him in a big way when a new comic shop opens and he's eventually forced to close his store, having never given his customers any other reason to stick with him.
  • Cannot Tell Fiction from Reality: Likely the Comic Book Guy, if this conversation is any indication:
    Comic Book Guy: It can't be! It's as if Superman moved to Gotham City!
    Martin: Which he did in World's Finest Comics #94. See?
    Comic Book Guy: That was an imaginary story dreamt by Jimmy Olsen after he was kicked in the head by Supergirl's horse Comet. It never really happened.
    Bart: None of these things ever really happened.
    Comic Book Guy: (beat) Get out of my store.
  • Clark Kent Outfit: When Comic Book Guy starts vandalizing the store, the comic book writers all rip off their shirts to reveal superhero physiques and proceed to pummel him into submission.
  • Cutaway Gag: After Bart points out that Milo wears a porkpie hat, it cuts to Homer at his work station drooling "Mmm... porkpie."
  • Department of Redundancy Department: A hotel sign reads "Welcome Lady Businessladies".
  • Foreshadowing: Before the Halfway Plot Switch, Comic Book Guy and the kids discuss a DC story that "never really happened" owing to being All Just a Dream. Guess how the increasingly improbable events of the third act get tied up.
  • Get Out!: When Comic Book Guy claims that it isn't an Analogy Backfire to use Superman moving to Gotham City as an example of an impossible event given that the story using that plot was All Just a Dream and therefore "never really happened," Bart gets this reaction from him by pointing out that none of these stories "really happened."
  • Halfway Plot Switch: The Comic Book Guy plot is the main focus of the first act, but it's completely dropped with no resolution to make way for the Marge story.note 
  • Ignored Expert: When one of the husbands gives Homer tips on how to stay attractive to his wife so she doesn't leave him for a younger man, Homer ignores him as his advice would require effort and instead opts for plastic surgery.
  • Insult Backfire: Comic Book Guy tries to ruin Milo's image in front of the Coolsville patrons by announcing that, contrary to the nerd stereotype, Milo has a girlfriend. However, the kids already know this - they've met her and like her just as much as Milo.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: To the Comic Book Guy, who ends up out of business due to his miserliness and cruelty to his customers.
  • Misaimed Fandom:invoked Bart excitedly tells Alan Moore that he wrote his favorite run of Radioactive Man...in that he mainly liked how the character punches people.
  • Murder by Inaction: The trio of authors/superheroes realize that a meteor is heading towards Springfield, but leave as they consider a convention for underpaid artists more important.
  • Properly Paranoid: Homer goes for stomach stapling, and eventually other kinds of plastic surgery, to improve his looks because he believes that Marge spending all day around people that look better than him will make her leave him. In the dream that composes a huge chunk of the episode, not only is Homer right, but Marge quite gleefully murders him after declaring that she's leaving him.
  • Pygmalion Snap Back: Homer winds up looking exactly how he did before after Marge has a surgeon undo the stomach stapling.
  • Rage-Breaking Point: Upon Milhouse asking Alan Moore which of the Watchman Babies are his favorite, he responds with a very heated rant about how corporations take ideas and milk them for all they're worth note :
    Alan Moore: You see what these bloody corporations do? They take your ideas and suck them. Suck them like leeches until they've gotten every last drop of the marrow from your bones!
  • Self-Made Man: Marge builds a successful gym franchise from nothing. The drama of the episode is that (at least in Homer's dream) Marge will become Drunk with Power and sexual desires courtesy of being around attractive people all day long and she will abandon him.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Lisa discovers the Tintin and Asterix comic book section and says: "I thought these only existed in French class." She then picks up an album named Tintin in Paris, which doesn't exist in the Tintin series, but is a mishmash of the album cover of Tintin in the Land of the Soviets, combined with content imagery of The Black Island and Destination Moon. Many actual Tintin books can be seen on the shelves, including the black-and-white-only Tintin in the Land of the Soviets and the unfinished Tintin and Alph-Art.
    • Alan Moore, Art Spiegelman, and Dan Clowes are surrounded by copies of and/or references to some of their most famous works, respectively including Watchmen and V for Vendetta, Maus, and Ghost World and Art School Confidential. When Comic Book Guy starts smashing up Coolsville, the three artists reveal themselves to be the League of Extraordinary Freelancers, a nod to Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
    • When Alan Moore gets worked up over how the film industry has ruined his work in adapting it for the screen, after Art Spiegelman talks him down, he finds solace in a compilation of Marjorie Henderson Buell's comic strip Little Lulu.
    • When Marge struggles with the treadmill, she looks over to see Miss Springfield, Cookie Kwan, Duffman, and Rainer Wolfcastle effortlessly re-enacting the video to OK Go's "Here It Goes Again".
    • In the episode's climax, Homer picks up Marge in his arms and flees a Torches and Pitchforks-carrying mob to Notre Dame de Springfield cathedral, a parody of Quasimodo carrying Esmeralda into Notre Dame de Paris in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
  • Spinoff Babies: Parodied. Milhouse asks Alan Moore to sign his copy of "Watchmen Babies: V For Vacation". He's not thrilled about it.
  • Spoof Aesop: Homer says using surgery to improve one's looks is a bad idea because medical science has yet to evolve to the point of fixing all kinks.
  • Start My Own: Marge starts her gym because she doesn't feel comfortable at the already existing ones.
  • Take That!:
    • To Oprah and her longtime boyfriend, Steadman Graham. During an appearance on Opal, Marge inquires as to when "Straightman" will finally pop the question and she in turns hands out expensive German cuckoo clocks to excited audience members as a means of distraction.
    • The episode also clearly takes the comic writers' side as underpaid and underappreciated artists that are either screwed over by their industry or plagued with fans who barely understand their work or both.
  • This Cannot Be!: Comic Book Guy's reaction to a new comic book shop opening in town, which he likens to Superman moving to Gotham City. Martin Prince immediately cites a comic in which Superman did just that, which Comic Book Guy counters by saying it was an imaginary story. Bart points out that all the stories in comics are imaginary and earns himself a Get Out!
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Played with, as Homer wants to avoid being a starter husband (as he and another guy are the only original husbands of the successful women) and opts for his plastic surgery.
  • Unexpected Kindness: Bart is skeptical of Milo's credentials and quizzes him on which of two superheroes is the stronger, only to be stunned when Milo asks him for his opinion, valuing his input into the discussion.
    Bart: Wow. I was in such a bad relationship with my ex-comic book guy I forgot how good it could be.
  • Weight Loss Horror: Homer opts for a stomach stapling procedure and he loses a significant amount of weight. Unfortunately, rapid weight loss from previously obese people usually results in excess skin folds. His efforts to look more attractive was not as easy of a fix as he thought it would be.
  • Weight Woe: The reason why Marge decides to create Shapes in the first place, because her hips are wider than the Wonder Woman cardboard cut out.
  • Workout Fanservice: Marge in her workout gear in the promotional photos.

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