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Recap / The Simpsons S2 E2 "Simpson and Delilah"

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"I have hair! I have hair!"

Original air date: 10/18/1990

Production code: 7F02

Homer buys a human hair growth serum that's not covered by his company insurance plan, and enjoys the high life now that he has a full head of hair, but it all comes crashing down when Smithers reports the insurance fraud and Bart uses up all the serum.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Absurdly Dedicated Worker: Homer uses a hair grower to get his hair back, is promoted and gets an assistant, Karl, who then takes the blame for something Homer did, gets fired, and still writes Homer's speech for him even after having been fired. The assistant is absurdly faithful to Homer.
  • Bland-Name Product: Dimoxinil stands in for Minoxidil.
  • Brick Joke: Homer is initially nervous about defrauding the company to pay for his Dimoxinil. Lenny scoffs, pointing out that such a small sum is just "one less ivory back-scratcher" for Mr. Burns. Later on, when Burns is informed of the fraud, we learn that's exactly what he was planning on buying.
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  • The Cassandra: When Mr. Burns commented on how the productivity increased and the number of accidents decreased ever since Homer's ideas started being implanted, Smithers pointed out the productivity only increased to the level it usually does during Homer's vacations and the number of accidents only decreased to the level he was either guilty or suspected of, but Burns dismissed this as jealousy.
  • Characterization Marches On: In this episode, Smithers is a Jerkass with a strong hatred of Homer; so much that he goes as far as to ruin his life by getting Karl fired, and take sadistic pleasure in Homer's misery, even to the point of a Suicide Dare. His characterisation here is way different from his morally conflicted Yes-Man with a Single-Target Sexuality towards Burns in later episodes, and is more on par with Frank Grimes in Season 8.
    • Subverted when you realize that Smithers' Jerkass hatred of Homer probably stems from Homer threatening his status as Burns' Dragon. Since Homer isn't usually a threat to his position, Smithers doesn't have any grudge against him.
  • Continuity Snarl: Mr. Burns states his age is 81. In every future episode where his age is mentioned, it's 104 (and in some much later episodes, Burns' age is implied to be four digits long).
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  • Couch Gag: The Simpsons do an Egyptian dance before jumping on the couch in a "Ta-da" pose.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Marge gets little annoyed when Homer tells her that the women applying for the job as his assistant keeps making kissy faces at him, the moment she hears a man's voice, she immediately says he should hire him.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Smithers has been repeatedly shown to have an almost psychological need to serve Burns, in addition to being sexually attracted to him. These both likely factor into Smithers' loathing for Homer when the latter earns Burns' favor.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: This is the only episode in the show's history scored by Patrick Williams, one of several composers given a trial run after season 1's regular, Richard Gibbs, departed.
    • This being long before Patty was established as gay (or even before she was established as a willfully celibate man-hater who Hates Being Touched, which was the original characterization), she and Selma both express attraction to Homer when he grows out his hair.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Homer's hairstyle changes several times throughout the episode. He starts off with long hair, then to a 1970s style small afro, then to a more close cropped 1950s type haircut, and finally a 1980s Miami Vice style angular cut with a small ponytail.
  • A Fool and His New Money Are Soon Parted: Homer buys a hair-growth product that actually works and it eventually gets him a promotion. Homer ignores Marge's advice about saving money for emergencies and it comes back to bite him when Bart, while trying to use the product to grow himself a beard, accidentally spills it out and Homer has no money to buy a new batch before becoming bald again and being demoted back to his old job.
  • Forgotten Phlebotinum: Dimoxinil is never seen or mentioned again in any future episodes, despite being a miracle cure-all for baldness. You would think a product like that would get a lot more staying power, regardless of its price tag.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Homer initially marks his sex as female on the insurance form before changing it.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Smithers becomes vehement on bringing down Homer after he steals Burns' approval.
  • Guttural Growler: Karl has an extremely deep voice. Justified by his voice actor.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: When Homer is exposed for using the company's health plan to buy the Dimoxinil for his hair, Karl takes the fall to save Homer from getting fired.
  • Hyper-Competent Sidekick: Karl to Homer.
    • Also Smithers to Burns. Smithers is really upset when Burns starts favoring Homer over him, despite Homer not really being an impressive employee.
  • Imagine Spot: Bart has one of himself with a beard.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: As poor Homer found out, Karl's pep talk to him about the plant community not caring that he didn't have hair was incorrect.
  • Irony: Marge dislikes the idea of Homer working with pretty women, and suggests he hire Karl. Karl kisses Homer later, and judging from Homer's comments, he has some sort of a man-crush on Karl too.
  • It Was with You All Along: Karl convinces Homer that it's his own competence and personality, not his hair, that makes him a shining employee. It's subverted, though, as it turns out the plant's community are genuinely that shallow, quickly rejecting him for his baldness (they don't even let him finish the exposing of ideas he had written and tried to expose while bald). Fortunately, Burns sympathizes over Homer's plight by demoting him back to Safety Inspector, as he gone over a similar incident when he was young.
    • Played straight when, at the episode's end, Marge assures Homer that she sees him as beautiful not because of his hair (or lack thereof), but because of his personality.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Smithers' taking Homer down in the episode's climax is motivated by petty jealousy, but Homer did commit insurance fraud, and Homer's ideas for improving the plant's productivity weren't really working—he was just in a position where he couldn't cause productivity to go down with his usual bumbling.
  • Kicked Upstairs: An unintended case. Burns promotes Homer because he sincerely believes he has promise, something that seems to be met when his ideas raise productivity. It is implied through Smithers however that at least some of that is because Homer's incompetence isn't as obstructive in his new position.
  • Loophole Abuse: Every year, Mr. Burns must promote one of his employees. But as long as he gives the employee's job a different name, it doesn't matter if said employee's work and pay remain the same.
  • Magic Feather: Played with. Homer's hair growth is kind of treated as one due to Homer being promoted and receiving all kinds of perks at work. However, this trope is rather sadly subverted when Homer becomes bald again. The plant directors won't even listen to his speech and he is demoted back to his old position.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted with Homer's friend and coworker Karl, not to be confused with Homer's friend and coworker Carl.
  • Pet the Dog: In spite of his reputation as a tyrannical boss who enjoys making people suffer and punishing those who failed him to satisfy his greed, Mr. Burns unsurprisingly sympathizes Homer's plight by revealing through his family album that he once had handsome hair in his youth and that he lost it as he grew old and that no one took him seriously because of it. Fully aware that the failed meeting wasn't entirely Homer's fault as many of the employees only took his hair for granted, Burns decides to cut some slack for Homer by demoting him back as Safety Inspector.
    Burns: (angry over Homer's failed speech) Well, well... our dashing young junior executive. You made a mockery of our meeting! I should fire you on the spot! (calms down) But I'm not going to.
    Homer: (confused) Why?
    Burns: How old do you think I am?
    Homer: I don't know.... 102?
    Burns: I'm only 81. (shows his photo album) You may find this hard to believe, but in my salad days.... my glory was a bright shock of strawberry blond curls. Oh, I was big man on campus until my senior year... when I became as bald as a plucked chicken. (sadly) You see, Simpson.... I too know the sting of... male-patterned baldness. That's why I'm giving you your old job back.
    Homer: What? Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you!
    Burns: Oh, now get outta here before I reconsider.
    Homer: Oh.... better hurry up. (leaves)
  • Prematurely Bald: Mr. Burns reveals that he was bald by the time he was a senior in college.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: BOY! MUST!! DIE!!!
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Karl is always seen dressed very well in suits of assorted colors and the occasional turtleneck and scarf.
  • Shout-Out: The episode's title is a reference to the Biblical story of Samson and Delilah, in which Samson lost his strength when he was seduced into cutting his hair. Similarly, Homer loses his success without his hair.
    • Also, Homer running around town happy that he had hair was clearly based on the scene from It's a Wonderful Life where George Baily runs around town after getting his life back.
  • Special Guest: Harvey Fierstein as Karl, who is noted in the commentary to be the show's first guest star who wasn't ashamed to say he'd done it. "Maybe not the most important barrier he ever broke down."
  • Straight Gay: Although it is never directly said, it is been suggested that Karl is homosexual. There are many indications as he kisses Homer during his pep talk and explains, "My mother taught me never to kiss a fool" before slapping Homer's buttocks.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: As Homer runs through town with his new hair, he meets up with a man who's done the same thing he did.
    Both: DIMOXINIL!
    • Also, when Homer's colleagues suggested that he defraud the company's insurance plan, they reasoned that Burns would probably just use the money to buy a backscratcher made of ivory. In fact, that's what Burns moaned about when he learned about the fraud.
  • Taking the Heat: Karl willingly took the fall when Homer was about to be fired for insurance fraud.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Lampshaded by Homer when, at the end, he bemoans that Marge will surely stop loving him because he's "ugly and bald." Marge promptly takes him into her arms and croons "You Are So Beautiful," assuring him that in her eyes, he's the handsomest man on Earth.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: After Bart accidentally destroys his one bottle of Dimoxinil, Homer decides not to kill him, but to tell him he's ruined his father, crippled his family, and that baldness is hereditary. Bart seems pretty choked up about the final one.