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Recap / The Simpsons S 7 E 13 Two Bad Neighbors

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Episode - 3F09
First Aired - 1/14/1996

During a neighborhood rummage sale, Homer sees a moving van at a vacant house across the street from his home and learns that the new neighbors are former President George H.W. Bush and ex-First Lady Barbara Bush, whom everyone (except Bart and Homer) welcomes with open arms.

This episode provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: There are walkable sewers running perpendicular to the street when Bart and Homer attempt to sneak into Bush's house.
  • Ambiguous Syntax: When Bush retaliates by putting up a poster that says "Two bad neighbors" with very crude drawings of Homer and Bart:
    Dr. Hibbert: I don't understand. Are you saying you and Barbara are bad neighbors?
    Bush: No! That's not Bar and me. It's them.
    Ned: Who? Maude and me?
    Bush: No! The man and his boy.
  • Acrofatic: Homer displays impressive agility in the final fight with Bush, running up the side of the sewer then bodyslamming Bush from above.
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  • Artistic License – Law: Both Bush and Ford are shown with Secret Service agents, since per the Former Presidents Act of 1958, every ex-President is entitled to lifetime Secret Service protection (provided they weren't impeached). However, Bush, and Ford driving are inaccurate, since an ex-President would not be allowed to drive a car themselves in real life; also when Homer goes to confront Bush, Bush asks the agents to stand down, which would never happen in real life, when the Secret Service would keep Homer at an arm's length from Bush.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: Bush gets a can of spray paint and makes a comment that suggests he'll spray-paint the Simpsons' home. He instead paints the "Two Bad Neighbors" banner.
  • Berserk Button: Homer's rights being violated by Bush after learning what happened to Bart...
    Homer: First Bush invades my home turf, then he takes my pals, then he makes fun of the way I talk... probably. Now he steals my right to raise a disobedient, smart-alecky son! Well, that's it!
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  • Bilingual Bonus: Gorbachev's line to his security detail roughly translates to, "Well, we know who the boss is here."
  • Blatant Lies:
    Homer: He spanked you? You, Bart Simpson?
    Bart: I begged him to stop, but he said it was for the good of the nation! Note 
  • Continuity Nod: Some of the items at the rummage sale are Bart's "I didn't do it" shirts, Lisa's "Lisa Lionheart" dolls, and Homer and Abe's tonic.
  • Cool Old Lady: Barbara Bush is portrayed is being very tolerant, even amused at Bart Simpson's antics, unlike her husband, and forces Bush to apologize.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Not Bush with Homer and Bart of course, but Barbara explains that after the respective conflicts with Noriega and Gorbachev subsided, they became friends with the president (with the latter even bringing him a housewarming gift).
  • Disco Dan: Disco Stu makes his first appearance, as the punchline to a joke about Homer having tried to write "Disco Stud" in rhinestones on a jacket, but ran out of space before he could add the last letter.
    Guy: Stu, you should buy that!
    Disco Stu: Hey, Disco Stu... doesn't advertise.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Bart and Homer begin an Escalating War against former President George H.W. Bush that involves shooting bottle rockets at his house and gluing a comical wig onto his head all because Bush spanked Bart. Very lightly. As punishment for destroying his memoirs.
  • Double-Meaning Title: The "Two Bad Neighbors," in question refers to Homer and Bart as evidenced by Bush's banner, but also to how well Homer and Bush get along with each other.
  • Double Standard: Violence, Child on Adult: Explored throughout the episode, first with the contrast between how Bart treats Bush and how Bush retaliates, then with the hypocrisy of Homer's anger over the spanking when he throttles Bart on a regular basis.
  • Foreshadowing: George Bush is upset that his wife doesn't bake cookies for him but isn't brave enough to openly complain to her. She turns out to be the one to force him to stop the conflict between him and the Simpsons.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Right after Bart accidentally shreds Bush's memoirs, a sliver of paper briefly flies in front of the screen with the words "V.P. Quayle...embarrassment."
  • Gadget Watches: George Bush's watch has a concealed wire garrote that he tries to strangle Homer with at the climax. It was a farewell present from the CIA.
  • Grumpy Old Man: George Bush, especially with Bart around (albeit he's justified due to the latter's annoying behavior).
  • A Handful for an Eye: After Bush dodges his opening attack in their fight, Homer throws a handful of sewer muck in Bush's face, blinding him enough briefly for Homer to get the upper hand.
  • Hands Go Down: When Bush gives a speech at the Elk Club with a rainbow wig glued to his head.
    Bush: Any questions?
    (all reporters put their hands up)
    Bush: Keeping in mind that I already explained about my hair.
    (reporters put their hands down)
  • Henpecked Husband: When Bush spanks Bart for shredding his memoirs, he provokes an Escalating War between himself and Bart and Homer, which culminates in Bush and Homer having a fistfight in front of Bush's house just as former Russian Premier Mikhail Gorbachev has stopped by to give a housewarming present. Fed up with the whole conflict, Barbara orders her husband to apologize to Homer.
    George: But Bar, we can't show any weakness in front of the Russians!
    Barbara: (glaring at him with her arms crossed) GEORGE...
    George: (grumbling under his breath) Yes, dear.
    (Gorbachev smiles evilly and says something in Russian to his aide)
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Apu sings an off-key version of Cheap Trick's "Dream Police".
  • Hypocritical Humor: Homer is livid that Bush would dare spank his son... whom he regularly strangles.
  • It's the Principle of the Thing: Even after finding out why George was mad at Bart, Homer still wanted to beat him up.
    Homer: For the last time, Bush, apologize for spanking my boy!
    Bush: Never! You make him apologize for destroying my memoirs!
    Homer: (to Bart) You didn't tell me you destroyed his memoirs. (to Bush) NEVER!
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Most of Homer’s grievances against Bush are petty; however when in the drive-through at Krusty Burger, Bush was sitting in his car trying to work out what to order, apparently ignorant of what the place he has come to even served (he asks for a stew at a burger joint). Show of hands, who has never gotten frustrated at a fast food restaurant because the people in the front of the line can’t make up their minds?
  • The Klutz: Both Homer and Gerald Ford discover this as a point they have in common when they both trip simultaneously.
  • Littering Is No Big Deal: Lampshaded:
    Homer: Good old Evergreen Terrace: the swankiest street in the classiest part of Pressboard Estates.
    Bart: Well, if you love it so much, why are you always littering?
    Homer: [finishing a canned drink] It's easier, duh. [tosses can on ground]
  • Never My Fault: Homer honks at Bush for holding up the line at the Krusty Burger drive-thru in spite of him waiting until the last minute to order breakfast.
  • Not Helping Your Case:
    Marge: Grampa, I know in your day, spanking was common. But Homer and I don't agree on that kind of punishment.
    Grampa: And that's why your no-good kids are runnin' wild!
    (Lisa, quietly reading a book, looks up and smiles)
  • Not So Different: Between Homer and Bush (negatively). And also between Homer and Gerald Ford (positively).
  • Papa Wolf: Homer decides to go on a revenge prank campaign with Bart because Bush gave Bart one slap on the tush in retaliation for Bart acting like Dennis the Menace. Also overlaps with Disproportionate Retribution (Bush explaining why it happened doesn't makes Homer even so much as tell Bart to say he's sorry).
  • Poor Communication Kills: Subverted; Bart never mentions the fact that he destroyed Bush's memoirs to either of his parents, and when Bush reveals this fact during his fight with Homer and Bart in the sewers, Homer looks shocked that Bart failed to mention this... for all of about three seconds, after which he decides he doesn't really care about it and resumes fighting with Bush.
  • Self-Serving Memory: Bush finishes his memoir by claiming that "since [he'd] achieved all [his] goals as President in one term, there was no need for a second." In reality, Bush sought to be re-elected but was defeated by Bill Clinton.
  • Series Continuity Error: Admittedly the series was never big on continuity, but the house and walled gate across the street is mostly relegated to this episode only. It does appear in the video game Virtual Springfield, which was in development around the time this episode aired, though it isn't an explorable location in the game.
  • Serious Business: Homer actually goes through his word in this one.
  • Shaped Like Itself: "It's all in the Bible, son. It's the prankster's bible."
  • Shout-Out: The episode itself is one to the American version of Dennis the Menace.
  • Smarter Than You Look: Homer and Bart coming up with ways to get at George Bush that must have taken a lot of skill and planning.
  • Song Parody: "Table Five".
  • Take That!: George Bush gets to be the butt of nearly every joke. Ironically, this happens while somehow providing one of the few sympathetic portrayals of Barbara Bush to be shown in an American sitcom. (But only as a pastiche of Mrs. Wilson.)
  • Terrible Artist: Bush spray-paints a banner reading "Two bad neighbors" with Homer and Bart's faces, but the faces are drawn too crudely for other neighbors to recognize.
  • Title Drop: The text on Bush's poster reads "Two bad neighbors".
  • Two Decades Behind: George Bush isn't quite on par with the modern-day world, such as using a typewriter to write his memoirs instead of a computer and being perplexed by Krusty Burger's drive-thru menu. This was most likely a reference to the viral myth that Bush didn't know what a price scanner was.
  • You Never Did That for Me: George gets angry that Barbara offers to bake cookies for Bart, saying that he can't remember the last time she did that for him.


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