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Recap / The Simpsons S25 E16 "You Don't Have to Live Like a Referee"

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A Springfield Elementary assembly for a re-enactment of the Lincoln-Douglas debates is over before it begins when the bored kids start a riot. Deciding the kids lack respect, Superintendent Chalmers organises a competition for the students to do a speech on their heroes (with corporate sponsorship for the prize, an academic scholarship). Lisa is sure her essay on Marie Curie will win first prize... until Martin Prince turns out to have also chosen Curie as his heroine. Bart finds Lisa sobbing outside the gym and suggests she put together a report on Homer, reasoning that while "my father, my hero" may be cliche, with a father as bad as Homer, it will be "like climbing Mt. Everest". In a Continuity Cavalcade, Lisa tells the audience about Homer's past acts of altruism and integrity, including the moment in "Marge Gamer" when he refereed her soccer match and sent her off for diving.


Though Lisa and Martin are declared joint winners of the contest (thus forfeiting the scholarship money), the speeches are uploaded to the Internet, and Lisa's speech quickly goes viral, earning Homer a visit from the World Football Federation. Due to rampant corruption among referees, they decide his integrity in sending off his own daughter makes him a perfect referee for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. And so the Simpsons make their second trip to Brazil, where, despite players and local gangsters offering him increasingly large bribes, Homer decides to live up to Lisa's image of him by proving a scrupulously fair referee. However, Bart decides to tell Homer the truth about Lisa's report: he was not her first choice. Depressed, Homer gets drunk in a local bar and finally accepts a bribe from the gangsters to throw the World Cup final between Brazil and Germany in favour of the hosts.


Fortunately, Lisa reveals that while he may not have been her first choice, she does regard Homer as a hero now, and he decides to judge the final match fairly, refusing to award a penalty when Brazil's star player, "El Divo", goes down on the edge of the box despite not having been touched by any German players. Germany win the final 2-0, and the gangsters prepare to execute Homer for double-crossing them, but Marge pleads for his life in Brazilian Portuguese (which she has spent the episode learning). The mob boss refuses until his mother, with whom Lisa swapped seats on the flight from Springfield so that she could use a working seatback TV, intervenes on the Simpsons' behalf. The episode ends with the family touring the Amazon river and coming across a logging operation run by Krusty.



  • Argentina Is Nazi-Land: When a Brazilian fan calls the Germans "Nazis", a German fan replies by accusing the Brazilians of being Nazi hosts.
  • Artistic License – Sports: Soccer referees don't wear American Football-esque striped shirts. They can wear solid black, red, green, yellow or blue, to avoid clashing with either team.
    • The rest of the Simpson family would surely not be allowed to travel with Homer for their own safety.
  • Cameo: Legendary Spanish-language football commentator Andres Cantor compliments the tournament's choosing of Homer as a referee. Unfortunately, Cantor also demonstrates that he can't say any word that rhymes with "goal" without stretching it out.note 
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The old woman Lisa switches seats with on the plane turns out to be the mob bosses mother.
    • We see Marge trying to learn Portuguese throughout the episode. She finally manages it during the confrontation with the mob boss.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When the mob bosses bribe Homer to help Brazil win the final match, he says he'd like to know who'll win so he could wage the bribe money on the winner.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Marge acknowledges the family have been to Brazil before via "Blame It on Lisa."
    • Lisa's essay references Homer working two jobs to buy her a pony ("Lisa's Pony"), buying her saxophone ("Lisa's Sax"), and red carding her for diving during a soccer match ("Marge Gamer").
  • Creator Provincialism: As a referee of Association Football Homer wears a jersey vertically striped black and white - which officials in international soccer never wear and which is typical for the another ball game entirely.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • A magazine cover shows a referee about to be decapitated for taking bribes.
    • The airplane pilot deliberately causes turbulence because Marge was disappointed that he called her out on trying to learn how to speak Portuguese on the flight.
      Pilot: Everyone thinks they can learn the language on the plane. Do you know how disrespectful that is?
      (Marge grumbles)
      Pilot: Okay, just for that, turbulence!
  • Fanservice: We see a nun suddenly strip to her bikini during one of the crowd shots, and Bart later watches a Brazilian version of Sesame Street hosted by the same Xuxa Expy that appeared in "Blame It on Lisa," dressed as a Carnaval dancer.
  • Hypocritical Humor: The WFF official who comes to visit Homer asking for his help is arrested for corruption shortly after he arrives. (Can you believe this episode aired before the FIFA coruption scandal of 2015?)
  • Kick the Dog: Bart was the one who convinced Lisa to lie about Homer being her hero, then when Homer says it keeps him strong enough to resist taking bribes, Bart tells Homer the truth just for the sake of ruining his happiness.
  • Gilligan Cut: When Superintendent Chalmers decides it's time to get a sponsor, he says Principal Skinner won't have to degrade himself. The next scene features Skinner wearing a sandwich costume.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Homer was doing a wonderful job as an impartial un-bribeable judge. Then Bart spills the beans who Lisa really wanted to do a speech about.
  • Not Helping Your Case: Lisa's speech is uploaded onto MyTube, and it's shown next to videos of Homer's antics.
  • Rags to Riches: Homer can't sleep in his hotel room in Manaus because his pillow is lumpy. He tears it open to find stacks of money. He dumps it over the balcony, but the mobsters send it back up via a leaf blower. Homer counters by turning on the ceiling fan. A street performer stops at the hotel, and opens his guitar case. No sooner does he pull out his guitar than all the money lands in his case. He closes it, and takes off running.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Homer won't accept bribes except when he's disappointed at Lisa.
  • Sequel Episode: This episode acts as one to two different episodes — "Blame It on Lisa" and "Marge Gamer" (specifically the side story of Homer becoming a referee).
  • Time-Compression Montage: We see the mob trying to give Homer various bribes during a montage.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Based on this episode, Springfield is not in Illinois.
  • Writing Around Trademarks: As FIFA do not have a trademark on the phrase "World Cup", the show was able to refer to the soccer tournament as the World Cup by changing the name of the sport's governing body to the World Football Federation. There are many other World Cups in sports such as alpine skiing, ice hockey, rugby, cricket, even American football.

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