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Recap / The Simpsons S 6 E 11 Fear Of Flying

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Original air date: 12/18/1994

Production code: 2F08

Homer gets banned from Moe's Tavern after playing a lame prank, and uses an airport bar as his new watering hole, but when Homer is mistaken for a pilot and causes an accident, the head of the airline pays him off with a vacation to anywhere in the United States (except for the freak states, Alaska and Hawaii). However, the trip is short-lived, when Marge has a mental breakdown before the flight. Marge assures the family that she's fine, but when her erratic behavior begins freaking out the family, Marge goes into therapy to find out why she's afraid of flying.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Absurd Phobia: A quick gag reveals that Homer is deathly afraid of sock puppets.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: When Bart learns that Marge has a fear of flying:
    Bart: So much for the days when I could say, "At least my mother's normal."
  • Analogy Backfire: Homer insists to Lisa that Marge's therapist will convince her to divorce Homer, the family will break up, and Lisa will have to live with her grandmother and pick beans for a living. Lisa states she likes picking beans with grandma, and a miffed Homer tries to get the last word in:
    Homer: Well, keep it up then.
    Lisa: Okay, I will.
    Homer: Good. You do that.
    Lisa: Fine.
    Homer: You'll be picking many a bean.
    Lisa: Hope I do.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Homer upon discovering a man identical to himself lying knocked out in front of Moe's:
    (Gasp) Oh, my god, this man is my exact double! (GASP) That dog has a puffy tail! (chases dog) Here puff, here puff! (giggles)
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • Homer is looking for a new drinking hole and wanders into the 'She She Lounge' full of butch women:
      Homer: Wait a minute... there's something bothering me about this place... I know! This lesbian bar doesn't have a fire exit! Enjoy your death trap, ladies!
    • A man going by the suspicious name "Guy Incognito" enters Moe's Tavern for a drink. He looks and sounds just like Homer, only with a fancy suit, top hat, and mustache. Having been previously banned from the establishment, the patrons beat him up and throw him out...just in time for Homer to walk by and catch his double lying unconscious on the pavement.
    • Earlier in the episode, when the guys at the bar are playing pranks on Moe, Barney's prank has him goading him to smell a flower on the lapel of his blazer, which he does. You think the flower was going to squirt him with water or even ink, but instead he lights his shirt on fire (which could have seriously harmed him, since, as he lampshades, his clothes are soaked with alcohol and therefore highly flammable).
    • Right after Marge's panic attack on the airplane before it's supposed to take off ("Let me off, let me off, let me off, let me off!") the next shot shows the plane taking off, accompanied by a triumphant variation of The Simpsons theme, making you think the family is still on board the plane and Marge is feeling better... but then the camera pans to show the Simpsons family standing nearby with their luggage watching the plane leave, to which the music takes a downbeat note.
    • Up to this point in the show, Marge's father has been conspicuously absent even in flashback eisodes, so her skittish reaction to being asked about him and the apparent reveal that he was an airline pilot seems like the lead-in to a revelation as to why he's not around that will explain Marge's trauma around planes. Turns out he wasn't really a pilot but a flight attendant, which embarrassed her.
  • Black Comedy Cannibalism: When Marge's fear of flying resurfaces, Homer tries renting movies of planes to help calm her. Of course he chooses Alive on the basis of its title.
    Passenger: (eating sounds) Pass another hunk of co-pilot.
  • Blatant Lies: Dr. Zweig says she's not going to judge anyone, as she immediately pegs Homer as a serious problem for Marge's mental health.
  • Cameo Cluster: Along with having Anne Bancroft as Marge's therapist, it has a brief scene where Homer visits Cheers and most of the cast (Ted Danson, Rhea Perlman, Woody Harrelson, John Ratzenberger, and George Wendt) reprise their roles.
  • Cassandra Truth: Homer repeatedly admits the airline controller that he's not a real pilot and was just pretending to be one so that he could drink at the bar, but the guy assumes Homer's just doing an extended joke.
    Homer: But I keep telling you: I'm not a pilot!
    controller: And I keep telling you: you fly-boys crack me up!
  • Cathartic Chores: After Marge's first panic attack on the plane, she acts very anxious. She cooks and bakes all night and later she's seen repairing the roof at 3 AM.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • Hilariously subverted, Homer is banned from Moes and explores Springfield for another drinking location, at one point ending up in the She-She lounge, obviously a lesbian bar. Homer looks around noticing something is wrong with the bar, then realises "This lesbian bar has no fire exit. Enjoy your death trap, ladies." and leaves the bar. The comically missing the point trope is then played again as Homer leaves, a lesbian looks at Homer leaving and asks "What's her problem?"
    • Homer doesn't see any issue with Marge being awake at two in the morning fixing the roof, other than asking her if she's going to make pancakes for breakfast.
    • Homer tries to cure Marge by giving her some "films about air travel" with "upbeat titles": Hero, Fearless and Alive, all films centered around horrific plane crashes.
  • Compressed Vice: Marge wasn't afraid of flying when the family flew to Washington, D.C. in the Season 3 episode "Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington."
  • Couch Gag: The family forms a chorus line joined by Vegas dancers and animals.
  • Deconstructive Parody: The scene where Homer goes to Cheers treats Norm's alcoholism in a much more realistic manner (namely that he's surly, slurs his speech and tries to attack Woody when he gets cut off).
  • Decoy Protagonist: The episode starts with Homer trying to find a new bar, but then suddenly switches to Marge dealing with her acrophobia.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Marge (who grew up in the 1960s) discovered her father was a flight attendant as a child. At that time, flight attendants were almost exclusively women and Marge (as well as her father himself) were ashamed by his profession. Dr. Zweig comforts her by telling her how in modern times, male flight attendants are more common which makes her father sound progressive.
    Marge: (in tears) My father was a stewardess!
    Dr. Zweig: Marge, there's nothing to be ashamed of here. Today male flight attendants or "stewards" are common.
    Marge: They are?
    Dr. Zweig: Yes, thanks to trailblazers like your father. You might say he was a pioneer!
    Marge: (uplifted) Yeah, you might even say he was an American hero!
    Dr. Zweig: Let's not go nuts.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Life-long banning (enforced by brutal beatdown) for unscrewing a sugar shaker. Bear in mind it's probably one too many for Moe, but it is nevertheless the only prank which has everybody reacting in a "Dude, Not Funny!" fashion, when the others had Moe bitten by a snake and set his clothes alight though he saw the funny side to those gags.
  • Don't Look At Me: Marge's dad screams this when a traumatized Marge sees him as a male flight attendant (see below).
  • Dude, Not Funny!: Exaggerated for laughs. Homer’s prank of unscrewing the salt shaker is the most harmless of the three pranks Moe suffers, but it’s the only one that pisses off everybody, because of the mess it leaves behind, no less.
  • Epic Fail: Homer's extremely brief career as a pilot for Crazy Clown Airlines. For starters, he fails in trying to make his co-pilot, Alan, do all the hard work. Then, after flipping a switch on the control board, he is admonished by Alan that "we'll need that to live". Finally, Homer flips another switch, which causes the plane's landing gear to retract, wrecking the plane.note 
  • Faux Horrific:
    • Being told that the Monkees didn't play write their own music, play their own instruments, or (in Michael Nesmith's case) wear their own hats left a very young Marge screaming in horror.
    • The event which traumatized Marge in her childhood and rendered her unable to go on a plane? Finding out her father was a steward.
  • Forced Perspective: When we first see Marge watching Alive, the camera is positioned head on and we're led to believe she's just sitting on the couch. After Lisa notes how tense she looks, we then cut to a side view, and see that Marge is actually standing stooped over a few feet in front of the couch.
  • Freudian Couch: Marge lies on the couch while talking to her therapist.
  • Freudian Excuse: Marge's fear of flying comes from seeing her father as a male flight attendant (steward). This is followed by a montage of other traumatic plane-related incidents (Marge's grandmother jabbing her in the eye during the whole "here comes the airplane" bit; her toy airplane catching fire; and her and her mother being attacked by a crop duster.
  • From Bad to Worse: After the fact that her dad was a steward seems to be the trigger for her phobia, Zweig says they are making progress only for Marge to point out three more traumatic things: her (almost-blind) grandmother nearly poking her eye out while doing the "here comes the plane" trick to spoon-feed her as a baby, a toy airplane she had as a kid catching fire, and being attacked by a maniac gunman flying a biplane when she and her mom were visiting a corn field.
  • Gay Bar Reveal: Subverted. Homer, having been banned from Moe's and looking for a new watering hole, is the only man in a very obviously lesbian bar.
    Homer: There's something bothering me about this place...I know! This lesbian bar doesn't have a fire exit! Enjoy your deathtrap, ladies!
    Random Lesbian: What was her problem?
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: Averted when Homer tries to find a new bar. One scene shows him standing in a crowd of women saying, "There's something bothering me about this place... *gasp* This lesbian bar doesn't have a fire exit! Enjoy your death trap, ladies!"
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: Norm Peterson doesn't take to being cut off by Woody.
    Norm: Just gimme a beer, you brain-dead hick! I'll Kill You!! I'll kill all of ya!
  • Halfway Plot Switch: The first half of the episode has Homer trying to find a new bar after being banned from Moe's. Then the second half forgets about that story-line as it focuses on Marge's fear of flying.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • When Bart starts to mock Principal Skinner for attending therapy, Homer chastises his son and tells him to leave the man alone, before proceeding to mock Skinner himself.
    • Homer, in his paranoia about Marge's therapy.
      Homer: Ever since you started therapy, all you can do is talk about yourself. Well, what about me, Marge?
      Marge: I've just left my first session and I haven't even opened my mouth yet!
      Homer: Y'see! "I" just left "my" first session and "I" haven't even opened "my" mouth yet!
  • I'll Tell You When I've Had Enough!: Homer's search for a new bar to hang out at sees him in Cheers, where he finds (with a Zany Scheme going on in the background) Norm Peterson asking for another:
    Woody: I think you've had enough, Mr. Peterson. My chiropractor says I can't carry you home any more.
    Norm: Just gimme another beer, you brain-dead hick! [grabs bottle, smashes it] I'll kill you! (to the other patrons) I'll kill all of you! [Cliff and Frasier hold him down]
    Cliff: Whoa, settle down, Normy. Gotta save those pipes for karaoke!
    [Homer panics and suddenly departs. Cut to Norm more settled down in a corner.]
    Norm: I love you guys... [starts crying, and camera holds for uncomfortably long time; Cheers leitmotif plays]
  • I Need to Go Iron My Dog: One of the excuses Marge tries to use to get off the plane in the first act is that she needs to clean the lint trap in the dryer in case someone breaks in and does a load of laundry.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One: The patrons of Moe's Tavern proceed to play pranks on Moe. Lenny causes him to get bitten by a cobra, Barney causes him to be lit on fire, and Homer simply winds up causing some sugar to be spilled. And of course, Homer's prank causes him to be banned from the bar for life.
    Barney: We were just messing around, but you went too far!
  • Identical Stranger: Homer is permanently banned from Moe's due to rampant douchebaggery (for Moe, at least). Soon after, a man who looks exactly like Homer with a mustache, in a top hat and suit goes to Moe's. He introduces himself as "Guy Incognito" and is promptly beaten up and thrown out. The real Homer, passing by, is shocked to find his exact double unconscious but is suddenly distracted by a dog with a puffy tail.
  • Ignored Expert: Dr. Zweig tries to talk about Homer, who immediately drags Marge away.
  • Immediate Self-Contradiction: In Marge's Lost in Space dream, Dr. Smith claims that being stranded has ruined his appetite. Since Dr. Smith is being portrayed by Homer, he immediately starts chowing down anyway.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Done unintentionally, when Moe removes "It's Raining Men" from the jukebox, he throws the record out the window, it then flies through the open window of a car and hits Smithers in the face.
  • Inexplicably Identical Individuals: Homer and Guy Incognito are virtually clones, much to Guy's misfortune.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Dr. Zweig insists that the Monkees were about "political and social upheaval", even though they were a glorified, corporate-backed Boy Band.
  • Irony:
    • A meta-example; Frasier Crane is included in the Cheers cast cameo, but doesn't get any lines due to scheduling difficulties with his actor, Kelsey Grammer... who already recurs on The Simpsons as Sideshow Bob.
    • The reason why Marge's fear of flying came to light was because Homer wrecked an airliner while pretending to be a pilot, and he was offered plane tickets in exchange for his silence. The airline company felt the need to bribe Homer so that word didn't get out about the incident and make them a laughing stock, but judging by the fact that their name is "Crazy Clown Airlines", they probably already were a laughing stock.
  • It's All About Me: Homer is completely against Marge going to therapy because he believes that he'll be blamed for all of Marge's problems. Sure enough, Homer tries spying on Marge's sessions and makes demands that she tell him what they discussed. Of course, Homer is actually correct because Dr. Zweig truly believes Marge needs to talk about how Homer treats her.
  • It's Probably Nothing: Grandpa joins the Simpsons in their aborted first flight. The family returns home afterwards without him, though Bart suspects they've forgotten something. After a brief cutaway of Grandpa screaming on the plane ala Kevin McCallister in Home Alone, Homer dismisses the notion, saying, "I'm sure it's nothing."
  • Jerkass:
    • One of Young Marge's friends for saying The Monkees weren't a real band.
    • While it is not completely unjustified, Homer believes the only thing Dr. Zweig is going to do is brainwash Marge into hating him... and points out the rest of the family already does. Thus he ridicules himself by trying to overhear their sessions.
    • The rest of the patrons at Moe's Bar get a pretty big level on this episode, kicking Homer out and being perfectly capable of beating Homer (or some guy that happens to have the bad luck of looking exactly like Homer) to a bloody pulp to keep him out.
    • Norm is an angry and pathetic drunk in his cameo.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • As Marge acknowledges in the present, that mean girl on the school bus was right that the Monkees didn't write their own songs or play their own instruments.
    • Homer is paranoid that Dr. Zweig will blame him for all of Marge's problems; indeed, the first thing Zweig does is make a note about Homer, and she calls him a "far more serious problem" for Marge at the end of the episode.
  • Just Plane Wrong:
    • Homer retracting the plane's landing gear on the ground would be impossible for several reasons.Explanation  Naturally, all of them are overridden by the Rule of Funny.
    • Some of the flying scenes show the same plane go from having four engines in one shot to three engines in another.
  • Moral Myopia: The patrons of Moe's bar play a sequence of increasingly brutal practical jokes on their publican, all of which he takes in good humor (such as lighting his clothes on fire and HIDING A COBRA in the cash register which repeatedly bites him). Lastly, Homer plays the innocuous "Loose Salt Shaker Lid" gag on Moe and immediately gets chewed out by his friends and barred from entry. Of course, this is the joke.
  • My Beloved Smother: A Freudian Slip from Skinner is the Trope Namer.
    Bart: I never thought I'd win this easy.
    Skinner: Oh, this has nothing to do with you, Simpson. I have many issues with my beloved smother. (twitches) Mother!
  • New Jobs As The Plot Demands: In a previous episode, Marge said that her father used to be in the navy and had a job as a baby photographer when he dated her mother, and suggests that Homer use the same Swear Jar tactic her father did to control his cursing. This episode reveals that Grandpa Bouvier later worked as a flight attendant, probably after he got married and had his daughters.
  • No Ending: After Marge has conquered her fear of flying, she and Homer board a plane. The plane then crashes into the ocean, Homer tells Marge that a carp is swimming around her feet, and then the episode cuts to the credits without any explanation of whether or not they were rescued.
  • Noodle Incident: Citing his distrust of psychiatrists, Homer claims among other things it turns "neighbours against me."
  • One-Episode Fear: This episode deals with Marge's fear of, well, flying. While it is justified that it doesn't show up in later episodes, because her therapist helps her come to terms with the phobia, which could well have made it go away, it's odd that it didn't show up before, because she travels by plane in previous episodes such as "Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington", and the incident that made her afraid of flying happened in her childhood.
  • Offer Void in Nebraska: The free tickets Homer gets from Krazy Klown Airlines are for "anywhere in the United States, excluding Alaska and Hawaii, the freak states." Of course, in the very next scene, Bart and Lisa immediately suggest going to those states.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Subverted. Homer walks into Moe's in a PTD that Moe sees through immediately, but it turns out he was wrong, it wasn't Homer but a stranger who just happens to look and sound like Homer in disguise.
  • Periphery Demographic: In-Universe. Homer's favorite song is revealed to be "It's Raining Men", a song that is primarily known as an anthem for gay men.
  • Properly Paranoid: Homer is convinced Dr. Zweig will blame him for all of Marge's problems. This is in fact the first thing she does.
  • Random Events Plot: Homer gets thrown out of Moe's, which leads to him finding a new bar to drink in, which results in him wrecking an airliner, leading to a coverup that uncovers Marge being afraid to fly, and the rest of the episode is about Marge getting therapy for it.
  • Real Joke Name: The man who looks just like Homer really is called "Guy Incognito".
  • Riddle for the Ages: How or why is Guy Incognito an exact double of Homer? Then again, considering that Abe has two other children from different mothers...
  • Sanity Slippage:
    • Marge begins acting strangely from not talking about her phobia, which includes being up at 3 in the morning cooking and doing roof repairs, insisting the cat and dog need to be married, and keeping herself in a state of "catlike readiness." Homer finally concedes to Marge seeing a therapist when it's pointed out she's sitting in mid-air watching an airplane disaster movie.
    • Homer, when Marge starts therapy.
  • Screaming Plane Baby: As the plane is loading Bart complains that he specifically asked not to be seated next to any crying babies. The camera then zooms out to reveal that it's Maggie crying.
  • Selective Condemnation: Everyone in the bar, who had Moe bitten by a cobra and set on fire, yet when Homer does a harmless loose sugar cap prank, they all call him out on it and ban him from the bar.
  • Selective Enforcement: Lenny and Barney play pranks on Moe which involve setting him on fire and setting a cobra on him. Homer, in an attempt to join in the "harmless" fun, loosens the lid on a sugar cellar, resulting in what Moe angrily calls "the old sugar-me-do". This gets Homer banned from the bar.
  • Separated by a Common Language: Referenced in Homer's rant about wanting to take a vacation:
    Homer: I'm sick of eating "hoagies". I want a "grinder", a "sub", a "foot-long hero"!
  • Series Continuity Error: Marge wasn't afraid of flying when the family flew to Washington, D.C. in "Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington". Also, her father looks different than the one from "The Way We Was" (the episode that tells the story of how Homer and Marge first met when they were in high school) and in "Bart the Lover", Marge said that her father was in the navy and had a job as a baby photographer, which he nearly lost due to his constant cursing. He had those jobs before he married Grandma Bouvier, so he likely got the flight attendant job after he returned to civilian life and had his daughters. In the episode, Marge's mom tells her that her father was a pilot.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Homer visits the bar from the TV sitcom Cheers, where the main cast (except Kelsey Grammer) voice their characters from the show (while the characters of Rebecca Howe and Diane Chambers are absent, they do get a mention).
    • Homer tries to cure Marge by giving her some "films about air travel" with "upbeat titles": Hero, Fearless and Alive.
    • Marge's dream casts her family in Lost in Space (Homer as Dr. Smith, Lisa as the Robot, and Marge herself as Maureen Robertson), earning a disapproving comment from the therapist that she's "infringed on any number of copyrights" (ironically, with both shows produced by 20th Century Fox, it should be all right).
    • When Marge finishes her therapy, she says "Thank you, Doctor. Whenever I hear the wind whisper through the leaves, I'll think 'Lowenstein', 'Lowenstein'...", a reference to The Prince of Tides. The fact that the therapist's name is Zweig doesn't stop her.
    • One of the things that happened to Marge in her youth to traumatize her and create her fear was being shot at by a crop-dusting biplane, a la North By Northwest.
    • Grandpa screams like Kevin from Home Alone when he realizes his family left him on the plane midflight.
  • Something We Forgot: When the family returns home after Marge's panic attack on the plane, Bart mentions "You know, I have this feeling that we forgot something...". Cut to Grandpa still on the plane screaming Home Alone style. We cut back to Homer who says "Eh, I'm sure it's nothing."
  • Special Guest: Anne Bancroft as Dr. Zweig; Ted Danson as Sam Malone; Woody Harrelson as Woody Boyd; Rhea Perlman as Carla Tortelli; John Ratzenberger as Cliff Clavin; George Wendt as Norm Peterson. Bancroft's husband Mel Brooks accompanied her to the recordings, with her saying "I can't get rid of him!" This led to Brooks getting his own appearance in "Homer vs. Patty and Selma".
  • Squirting Flower Gag: The episode begins with the crowd at Moe's bar pranking Moe in various ways. Barney asks Moe if he wants to smell his lapel flower. Moe does, and Barney takes the opportunity to light Moe's tie on fire.
  • Status Quo Is God: Moe and his patrons are never shown forgiving Homer and letting him back into the bar, but later episodes show Homer returning as if nothing happened.
  • Therapy Backfire: Throughout the episode, Homer is paranoid about Dr. Zweig brainwashing Marge into blaming Homer for everything wrong with her life and abandoning him (because he has seen it happen to other men, he says... to be fair, Homer can be blamed for a lot of bad things happening to Marge, but he seems to believe Dr. Zweig will do nothing other than that) and thus keeps on trying to meddle with the therapy (most probably leaving a bad first impression). After Marge obtains some Epiphany Therapy regarding her fear of flying, Dr. Zweig does try to talk to Marge about "the big problem" that is Homer... only for Homer to barge into the office (he had been listening through the door) and take Marge away.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Moe does this by throwing Homer out of his bar and refusing to let him come back.
  • Unscrewed Salt Shaker: Homer plays the sugar variation. Homer ends up banned from Moe's due to the prank who everyone found in bad taste, being forced to look for another place to hang out, triggering the events for the episode.
  • Visual Pun: When Marge watches Alive, she becomes so traumatized that she literally is "sitting" by squatting over near the TV. Apparently, the movie really did put her over the edge of her seat.
  • Vocal Evolution: Clancy Bouvier had a gruff voice in "The Way We Was", more akin to Dr. Marvin Monroe, but here, he's given a more regular fatherly voice. Harry Shearer still voiced the character both times, but the vocal difference is noticeable. note 
  • The Voiceless: Frasier Crane during the Cheers segment. According to the DVD Commentary, they just couldn't work out a time where Kelsey Grammer could've recorded some lines for this episode.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • After Grandpa is shown to be still on the plane in a cutaway, he is never mentioned again for the rest of the episode.
    • Homer never gets unbanned from Moe's Tavern. It's easy to imagine why Moe's tiff with him wouldn't last given that Homer's one of his best customers, so it's not a pressing issue.
  • Where Everybody Knows Your Flame: Played for Laughs with a Gay Bar Reveal; Homer, having been banned from Moe's and looking for a new watering hole, is the only man in She-She Lounge, a very obviously lesbian bar, muttering "There's something bothering me about this place...I know! This lesbian bar doesn't have a fire exit! Enjoy your deathtrap, ladies!", which is followed by a woman asking "What was her problem?" as he leaves.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Marge admits to her fear of flying and later says everyone has something they're afraid of.
    Homer: (smugly) Not everyone.
    Marge: Sock puppets.
    Homer: Where?! WHERE?! (runs off screaming)


She-She Lounge

"What was her problem?"

How well does it match the trope?

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