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Recap / The Simpsons S4 E19 "The Front"

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"I think all you people are despicable. For shame!"
After watching a mediocre episode of The Itchy and Scratchy Show, Bart and Lisa decide that they know enough about the show and what's funny to pen their own episodes, but after getting rejected by Roger Meyers, Jr. because of their age, the duo use Grampa Simpson as a front. Meanwhile, Homer and Marge go to their high school reunion, where Homer is revealed to have never graduated because he failed remedial science and goes to night school to make up the lost credit.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Absurd Phobia: Homer is such a big fan of donuts that he freaks out when his science teacher sets one on fire as an experiment.
  • Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?: After Bart suggests that he and Lisa could write a better episode of Itchy and Scratchy, Lisa poses this question to Bart, to which Bart casually responds "Probably not" before showing his Imagine Spot listed below.
  • Berserk Button: Calling Krusty's hair blue. He walks out on hosting an awards show over a pun on The Blue Lagoon.
  • Big "NO!": During Homer's Comical Overreacting.
  • Bill... Bill... Junk... Bill...:
    Marge: Third notice... final notice... some guys are coming... an invitation to our high school reunion!
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: Bart lets out a "D'oh!" after losing a game of Rock Paper Scissors against Lisa.
  • Brick Joke: Homer has a plunger stuck to his head at the beginning of the episode. At the end, it happens again.
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  • Comical Overreacting: Homer screaming and mourning at the teacher burning a donut for a science experiment.
    Homer: This is not happening. This is not happening!!
  • Comically Missing the Point: Homer when Marge notices she received an invitation for a class reunion but Homer didn't.
    Homer's brain: This is it, Homer. It's time to tell her the horrible secret from your past.
    Homer: Marge, I ate those fancy soaps you bought for the bathroom.
    Marge: Oh, my God!
    Homer's brain: No, the other secret!
  • Creator Backlash: In-universe, Though subverted: Abe accepts an Outstanding Writer Award for an episode of Itchy & Scratchy even though Bart and Lisa actually wrote it. During his acceptance speech, he clarifies that he hadn't even seen Itchy & Scratchy until he saw a clip of the episode nominated, and goes on a rant on how disgusted he was that such a violent cartoon passes off for entertainment in the modern era.
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  • Curse Cut Short: Krusty after watching Itchy & Scratchy episode "Dazed and Contused".
    Krusty: Eh, I could pull a better cartoon out of my a...heheheh-hey! Whoa! Wasn't that great, kids?
  • Cutting Corners: Went meta when Bart and Lisa visit the animation studio that produces Itchy and Scratchy. Roger Myers Jr. tells them animation is expensive, and they cut corners where they can, such as looping backgrounds. They pass the same cleaning lady and door several times as this is said.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: At the reunion, Homer keeps explaining the emcee's terrible impressions to Marge, much to her annoyance.
  • Drugs Are Bad: The message of the Itchy & Scratchy short "Dazed and Contused". Itchy weakly hits Scratchy's head a few times with a hammer (Bart thinks they're building to something), and then the two tell the camera, "Kids! Say no to drugs!" End.
  • Filler: "The Adventures of Ned Flanders" was added precisely because the episode was running short.
  • Flash Forward: To Homer and Marge's 50th high school reunion in 2024 at the end.
  • Gilligan Cut:
    Lisa: It's so sad that Krusty is ashamed of his roots.
    (Homer walks into the living room with a plunger on his head)
    Homer: Marge, it happened again!
    Bart: What are you going to change your name to when you grow up?
    Lisa: Lois Sandborne.
    Bart: Steve Bennett.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Bart and Lisa criticize Krusty for denying his Jewish heritage. Right after that, Homer shows up with a plunger stuck to his head and Bart and Lisa talk about what names they want to have when they become old enough to legally change it (Lisa will be Lois Sandborn while Bart will be Steve Bennett). Later, Barney learns that Homer failed remedial science and wonders how low can one get. Right after that, someone asks about Barney where his cummerbund (the sash on the waist of a men's tuxedo) is, with Barney dejectedly replying, "It fell in the toilet"
  • I Don't Like You and You Don't Like Me: Homer says this almost word for word to his brain when he's about to take his test.
    Homer: Alright, brain. You don't like me, and I don't like you, but let's just do this and I can get back to killing you with beer.
    Homer's Brain: It's a deal!
  • Imagine Spot:
    • Bart has one about hijacking Santa's sleigh.
      Bart: (points submachine gun at Santa) Lie in the snow and count to sixty! (jumps in sleigh and takes off) Mwahahahaha! Merry Christmas, suckers!
    • Homer has one about carting Abe to a loony bin and leaving him there after he says that in his job, he's paid "to tell a cat and mouse what to do".
  • Is This Thing Still On?: After the lame Itchy and Scratchy, the show cuts back to Krusty: "Ehh, I could pull a better cartoon out of my a— (Notices he's on, then chuckles) Hey! Whoa! Wasn't that great, kids?"
  • Kick the Dog: Roger Meyers Jr. really likes humiliating that poor Harvard grad:
    Meyers Jr.: You call this writing?! If I puked in a fountain pen and mailed it to the monkey house, I'd get better scripts!
    Graduate: But sir, at Harvard they-
    Meyers Jr.: Oh, at Harvard they taught ya? Hit the road, egghead. You should've majored in not getting fired.
    • Then later on:
      Meyers Jr.: (after crumpling Bart and Lisa's script into a ball) Hey, egghead! (Graduate sticks his head in the office) Sing 'Fair Harvard'!
      Graduate: (singing) Faaa-ir Harvard, I- (is interrupted by Meyers Jr. tossing the crumpled-up script into his open mouth. The graduate removes the paper ball, incensed) You, sir, have the boorish manners of a Yaley!
      Meyers Jr.: Here's a witty rejoinder for ya! (tosses his nameplate at the graduate's head, causing him to leave the office, moaning in pain)
    • And once more, later that night:
      Graduate: Sir! You locked my office and I wanted to get my Harvard mug!
      Meyers Jr.: Shut up! (once again tosses his nameplate at the grad's head, causing him to leave in pain once more)
  • Lame Pun Reaction: Krusty was not impressed with the script for the awards show.
    Well, here we are. Star of The Blue Lagoon and me: The blue-haired goon! What the...? That's terrible! [...] First of all, my hair is green, not blue! I've got nothing to work with here! Nothing! [walks off stage]
  • Limited Animation: "Strong-Dar, Master of Akom: The Wedding Episode". See also the Wraparound Background example below.
  • Lonely at the Top: Artie Ziff is a wealthy businessman and would trade everything for a night with Marge.
  • Mean Boss: Subverted with Roger Meyers. Although Meyers is an asshole to most of his writers (specifically, the one he fired for mediocre writing and chucked his nameplate at his head twice), that's because the scripts they're producing for him are garbage. He's much nicer to writers who actually do their jobs and come up with scripts worth producing, like Grampa (allegedly). A deleted scene shows him firing Abe after Abe made that inflammatory speech about how awful the cartoon he won is.
  • Medal of Dishonor: Homer wins all kinds of awards at his high school reunion that are by all accounts very demeaning. They include "Most Weight Gained," "Most Hair Lost," "Most Improved Odor," "Most Oldest Car," "Lowest Paying Job," and "Least Distance Traveled to Get to the Reunion." Rather than take insult, Homer is proud of all these supposed accomplishments, and is despondent when they get confiscated due to his failure to graduate.
  • Noodle Incident: Grampa rehearses his acceptance speech for the Cartoon Awards and comments on how honored he is that "the same man who once took a shot at Teddy Roosevelt could win back your trust".note 
    • Lisa once watched a series of cartoons called Itchy and Sambonote  and thinks they're worse than the mediocre episode of Itchy and Scratchy she and Bart just watched.
  • Pig Latin: When Homer reveals he never passed remedial science in high school:
    Marge: And you're a nuclear technician??
    Homer: Marge... ix-nay on the uclear-nay echnician-tay.
  • Poor, Predictable Rock: Trope Namer. When Lisa and Bart play a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors to decide whose name goes first in their fan-script, Lisa wins because of this trope.
    Lisa's brain: Poor predictable Bart, always takes rock.
    Bart's brain: Good old rock, nothing beats that.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Grampa delivers one to the audience after winning at the Annual Cartoon Awards (as seen in the picture on top) and gets booed off the stage. It seems to strike a chord with a couple of guys though.
  • Recycled Animation: The animation of Roger Meyers throwing a paper weight at a writer's head is recycled a scene later.
  • The Reveal: The viewers and Bart and Lisa learn that Grampa Simpson's given name is Abraham.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Having forgotten his name, Grandpa checks his underwear. When asked how he removed them without removing his pants, he shudders and admits, "I don't know!"
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The idea for this episode came about because of the episode of Tiny Toon Adventures written by three teenage viewers. Adam I. Lapidus, the writer of the episode, thought the same thing could occur in-universe via Bart and Lisa.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The title is a nod to The Front, a 1976 film about writers "fronting" for colleagues blacklisted during the 1950s.
    • "Master of Akom" is a reference to AKOM, which did the animation for several Simpsons episodes, including this one. When the episode was dubbed for Brazilian audiences, Strong-Dar was renamed "He-Man".
    • The Vanity Plate for The Itchy & Scratchy Show is a parody of the one for Stephen J. Cannell Productions.
  • Shoot the Television: The "Little Barbershop of Horrors" cartoon ends with Elvis shooting the television after Scratchy's skull gets stuck in it. Pictured on the trope page.
  • Solemn Ending Theme: The ending theme to The Itchy & Scratchy Show is a slower-paced version of the opening theme, played on a piano and sung by a woman.
  • Take That!: To The Ren & Stimpy Show creator John Kricfalusi, who trash-talked the show's animation style in Animation Magazine. The "clip not done yet" title card at the award ceremony is a crack at how he deliberately delayed production on his episodes of Ren and Stimpy to avoid censorship and due to issues with Off-Model art.
    • With the Itchy and Scratchy short Dazed And Confused, to Anvilicious "A Very Special Episode" installments of cartoon shows in the late 1980s and early 1990s focusing on anti-drug and violence messages.
  • This Explains So Much: After Homer admits to eating the fancy soaps:
    Homer: Marge, I never graduated from high school.
    Marge: That still doesn't explain why you ate all the soaps. Wait, maybe it does...
  • Who Writes This Crap?!:
    • Krusty, when he is introducing himself with Brooke Shields for the cartoon awards, ends up getting incensed about a joke in his opening line.
      Well, here we are. Star of The Blue Lagoon and me: The blue-haired goon! What the...? That's terrible! [...] First of all, my hair is green, not blue! I've got nothing to work with here! Nothing!
    • Krusty mentions this in regards to the Itchy and Scratchy episode "Dazed and Contused", which basically had Itchy tapping Scratchy's head with a mallet repeatedly, then saying "Kids, say no to drugs!"
      Krusty: (Back on the air, smoking a cigarette) Ehh... I could pull a better cartoon out of my a... (turns to the camera and notices he's back on the air and immediately stops himself and tosses away the cigarette) ...ahhehehahahaha! (runs to them) Hey, whoa! Wasn't that great, kids?!
  • Wraparound Background: Lampshaded when Roger Meyers Jr., Bart, and Lisa walk down the hallway.
    Roger Meyers Jr.: Sometimes, to save money, our animators will re-use the same backgrounds over and over and over again.


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