- Accidental Aesop:
- "Don't let your jealousy consume you and prevent you from accepting apologies from people who genuinely want to befriend you". The intentional Aesop is "Being the Only Sane Man actually sucks".
- Combined with the Rant-Inducing Slight at Homer's house, and his own Butt-Monkey role in most other episodes (see below) one could also interpret it as not obsessing over things from face value. After all, the Grass Is Greener on the other side.
- Renegade Cut makes the case for an unintentional anti-capitalism message; instead of Grimes realizing that his problems are Inherent in the System and then working towards changing the system, he directs all his ire at Homer for things he has absolutely no control over, because he's an easier target than Mr. Burns.
- The entire episode can be interpreted as a repudiation of the Hard Work Fallacy. Grimes makes a big deal about how little reward he has reaped from his lifetime of hard work, but doesn't grok that there are more factors to success than just hard work.
- Alternate Aesop Interpretation: Even though Frank Grimes has worked extremely hard in his life, he also comes off as a myopic pedant and a hard worker working for all the wrong reasons—considering how he attempts to work and function in a society that is possibly morally and ethically broken beyond repair and is just asking for it, and how he looks at what Homer and his family have as "normal", and is pure straight out jealous of him, he also reeks of Epileptic Trees of self entitled, self pitying, and uninsightful idiots that believe that playing the same Idiot Ball game of materialistic society will make them the kings of the Idiot Ball, instead of saying "Screw the money, I have standards." Plus it also doesn't help that Springfield was mentioned and is constantly shown in infamous light in all of America, episodes PRIOR to his employment in "America's Crudbucket." Even though Homer is portrayed as stupid, Grimes' brand of stupidity got him what he deserved. It's also worth noting that the episode's plot is similar to Amadeus, which was the Trope Codifier for Driven by Envy. It's not hard to see Frank and Homer as analogous to Salieri and Mozart.
- Alternative Character Interpretation:
- If Homer is a Jerkass or not in this episode. Even if he's never intentionally mean towards Grimes (just overly idiotic and obnoxious), some see this episode as one of the early signs of "Jerkass Homer". Some other people consider Homer to be fine in this episode for the reason said above. It also helps Homer's case that he does attempt to offer an olive branch to Grimes when he realizes he hates him and is the only one to show concern for his well-being after he goes off the deep end.
- Another alternate interpretation relating to Grimes' death: did he just have a total psychological breakdown and kill himself accidentally? Or was he fully aware of what he was doing and deliberately commit suicide because he could no longer bear to live in such a crazy world where hard work isn't rewarded while laziness is and where everyone was, as he put it, insane?
- Is Grimes's anger to Homer warranted, or is Frank just an judgmental asshole who finds it easier to bully Homer than voice his concerns to the person (Mr. Burns) actually responsible for putting Homer in a position he's clearly unqualified to fill?
- Is Homer's incompetence at his job entirely due to stupidity, or does he have a Dilbert-esque awareness of his job situation? Homer giving Grimes advice about the security cameras and Lenny and Carl's similarly blasé atittudes suggest this, and in this episode alone, Mr. Burns shows himself to be a particularly callous Pointy-Haired Boss, acting on whims and unable do distinguish a hard worker from a slacker.
- Angst Aversion:
- The episode is a dark, bitter Deconstruction of the show's mythology, which was so shocking to fans that some think it forever tainted the series' legacy of being biting but lighthearted, not outright sick and twisted.
- The episode also suffered from focusing on a character that was basically this trope defined. Grimes' life was portrayed as being difficult from the get-go, being abandoned by his parents, surviving an explosion and working every day of his life to achieve what little he has today. The fact that Grimes was supposed to be seen as a regular, real-life person thrown into the insane world of The Simpsons failed precisely because he did not come across as a regular person. It also didn't help that Frank himself came off as a pompous, uptight jerk long before he ever met Homer, making him unlikable to begin with. To make matters worse, Homer tries to reconcile with Frank by inviting him to his house for dinner, only for Frank to scream at the Simpsons in a jealous rage; even if Frank's beef with Homer was justified, he didn't need to take out his anger on Homer's wife and kids, who had nothing to do with it.
- Base-Breaking Character: Grimes. Depending on who you ask, he's a Jerkass or The Woobie (but not a Jerkass Woobie). This also determined whether you found his death and Homer's final line funny or cruel.
- Broken Base: Brilliant deconstruction of the show's absurdity, or painfully and humorlessly dark? The only thing fans agree on is that the episode is only accessible to long-time viewers.
- Crosses the Line Twice: If Frank Grimes' death itself doesn't do the job, Homer mumbling "change the channel, Marge" while half-asleep at Grimes' funeral does.
- Designated Hero:
- Frank Grimes. While his determination to keep working hard regardless of how many setbacks he has is at first admirable, his abrasive personality, exaggerated jealousy of Homer, and his subsequent attempt to humiliate Homer out of pure spite ultimately turns the audience against him.
- Homer. According to Planet Simpson, the audience is supposed to be "pleased" by Homer emerging "victorious" over Frank. The problem with this is that Homer actually never does anything to deserve victory, other than being a lot more stupid than he had ever been up to that point, and the rest of Springfield, if not the whole universe being also stupid and unwittingly conspiring to land that victory on Homer's lap. Then there is the can of worms that is calling a "victory" what is actually the driving of an innocent man to insanity, early death, and mockery while he is being buried.
- Designated Villain:
- Double subverted. We are supposed to see Homer as an awful person that doesn't deserve his good life. It's mainly subverted because Homer really is an awful employee that endangers the whole city with his wild antics and has a better life than the sane and hard working Grimes. The Double Subversion comes from the fact that Homer was the only employee that actually cared for Grimes' opinion and tried to make amends when he realized how upset Frank was with him, but Frank didn't care for any of it. It doesn't help that most of the mayhem caused by Homer is more out of stupidity than malice. To drive it all home, Homer's literally the only employee who seems genuinely concerned about Grimes when he starts to go crazy.
- The episode also tries to imply that Homer has had an absolutely perfect life up to this point, partly by displaying his past accomplishments and partly by making Grimes' life ludicrously terrible by comparison. Homer's childhood was actually almost as bad as Grimes'—his father was a bitter, emotionally abusive, and deadbeat alcoholic who once told a young Homer that he hopes he gets kidnapped someday, and his mother was always too wrapped up in her activism to be involved in his life. Soon into his coed years, after flunking out of high school and making his living as a free spirit but thrill-seeking flake because of this, Homer was forced to scrape by on his hands and knees just to raise Bart and support Marge as a father and husband after having accidentally impregnated her, including suffering humiliation and harsh reality when he had all of his new bought paternity stuff repossessed in front of his hated sister in laws and beloved wife. This isn't even including sacrificing his dream job at the local bowling alley when he accidentally had Maggie and was sent groveling back to Mr. Burns to support her. That Safety Inspector job that Grimes envies and loathes Homer over? It's not even a job Homer considers worth doing, nor is it meaningful in his life for that matter. The few instances that redeem him in the face of this, including his stupidity, ignorance, and future seasons that rev up his tense marriage to Marge, is his reason to not ever take out his anger on Marge, Lisa (Bart being the sole exception as the repeated recipient of Homer's strangulations), nor Maggie, and to do the right thing deep down, even when he has sunk to the bottom of the barrel with the rest of the world. Even as Grimes has the determination to make his life better, he lacks the heart (and the screen time) that Homer had when it came to crucial decisions in his life, including putting his ass on the line just for even the smallest moment of one's personal happiness.
- Ensemble Dark Horse: Frank Grimes only appeared in this one episode, yet is one of the show's most memorable characters (for better or worse).
- Fanon Discontinuity: Another popular contender for the title of 'Actual Series Finale'. The reasoning being that the show was originally created as a response to 1980s shows like The Cosby Show and after ten years it finally had an episode that was spoofing the foundations of its own premise.
- Hilarious in Hindsight:
- Intended Audience Reaction: The polarizing audience reaction to the episode. "The whole Frank Grimes episode is a study in frustration", according to the DVD commentary.
- The reaction to Homer's Flanderization, according to further information from Bill Oakley. He's meant to be a one-time exaggerated self-parody of Homer's worst attributes, and not a representation of how Homer "normally" is. unfortunately these attributes seemed into his regular characterisation leading to Jerkass Homer.
- Jerkass Woobie: Frank Grimes was supposed to be The Woobie, but really comes off more like this. He's had a god-awful life after being abandoned by his parents, was such a No Respect Guy that everyone laughed at his funeral, and has had to work with Homer's stupid antics. These would all make him sympathetic, except in general he's a very bitter and jaded man, and he is deeply hateful and jealous of Homer for reasons that are ultimately beyond his control while Homer genuinely wants to be his friend.
- Strawman Has a Point:
- Grimes is horrified to find out that Homers job is the safety inspector. Lenny and Carl tell him its best not to question it. This line is Played for Laughs, however, if Grimes had listened instead of continuously questioning Homers incompetence, he most likely wouldnt have ended up undergoing Sanity Slippage and dying.
- One of the major reasons this episode is so divisive is that Frank, as the strawman, isn't wrong in his reasoning to hate Homer (at least in general — Homer is horrible at his job, and Chernobyl and Three-Mile Island are perfect examples of what happens when someone like Homer is at the wheel of a nuclear power plant). It's him taking in other things out of context as proof that his hatred is righteous and deciding to try to sabotage Homer that takes it too far.
- They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Josh Weinstein regretted killing Frank off after only one episode.
- Unintentionally Unsympathetic: As the Designated Hero and Designated Villain entries show, this is apparant in both Frank and Homer depending on which opposing side your on.
- Some viewers, meanwhile, would see that both are this due to both sides being hard to root for.
- Wangst: Frank's entire rant to Homer about how unfair life has been to him because Homer has so much while he has so little. As the many above entries should explain, Homer is nowhere near as successful or happy as Grimes thinks, while Grimes has numerous character flaws (self-pity and self-entitlement being two stand-out ones) and lacks perspective on the bigger picture of society. The result is the rant coming off as Grimes just whining about how much his (admittedly terrible) life sucks.
- What an Idiot!: The entire premise is a "What an Idiot" trope as seen from the eyes of a newcomer employee, Frank Grimes, and his encounters with Homer. Repeatedly, Grimes tries to point out to Mr. Burns and others that Homer is a poor employee, ill-suited to the job and that his lack of qualifications, skills, ethics and attention to the job make him not only a danger to himself and his fellow employees but to Springfield (and possibly a wider region). Many situations abound:
Early on: Homer is at his work console when he absentmindedly grabs a flask of radioactive acid and brings the lip up to his mouth, as if to drink it. Grimes is walking by, sees what is about to happen, and slaps it away; the substance spills onto the wall, causing it to become damaged, just as Mr. Burns is making his rounds.
You'd Expect: Burns — who has supposedly hired Grimes for his skills and accomplishments — to realize that Homer was about to drink a radioactive liquid, which would possibly seriously sicken or kill him; also, for Burns to finally realize that Homer is incompetent and to fire him.
You'd Also Expect: Burns to reward Grimes for saving Homer's life.
Instead of recognizing Homer's incompetence, Burns is more concerned with the damage to the wall and the loose of the acid. He reprimands Grimes, demotes him and docks his pay.
To be Fair Homer realizes that he was being a dick towards Grimes, and tried to make amends by inviting him to a dinner in his house, apologize for his idiocy and ask for a second chance.
You'd Expect: Grimes realizes that Homer, for all his faults, is a decent man at the core, and after the dinner, tries to reason with Homer by instructing him over what he should do and how to do his job, or more realistically, convince Homer to quit his job for the safety of all Springfield (including his family), or whatever, act like an adult and resolve his feud with Homer.
You might even expect: that if Grimes still feels uncomfortable around Homer then maybe Grimes himself would just resign from the power plant and get a different job.
Instead: Grimes gets jealous over Homer's (relatively) luxurious life and only increases his anger towards him, and walks away in disgust.
At the same time: A jealous Grimes venting at Homer that he doesn't deserve any of his successes in front of his wife and kids.
You'd Expect: Marge and the kids would defend Homer that he's only sharing his happiness with Grimes and call out on him for his jealousy.
Instead: They just stood there and did nothing!
Later: Grimes schemes to publicly expose Homer as a fraud by having him enter a nuclear power plant design contest... for children (doing so by giving him a flyer that has all of the references to it being a children's contest deleted). Homer takes the bait.
On contest day: The contestants bring in their models to be judged ... along with Homer.
You'd Expect: For Burns, who is a contest judge, to immediately realize that Homer is not a child and disqualify him. Or in the very least, for Burns to instantly recognize the other children's models as superior to Homer's simplistic design. (Although Homer showed more technical expertise (for him) in describing how his model works.)
Instead: Homer is praised by Mr. Burns, before the others agree and applaud him. Homer wins first place.
The end result causes Grimes to snap and run amok through the plant, complaining that Homer gets away with everything and wins everything, but he (Grimes) has nothing to show for his hard work and superior ethic and skills. At one point, he sees some high-voltage electric wires.
You'd Expect: Even in his blind rage, for Grimes to at least show reason and know that touching the wires will result in electrocution and possible death.
Or: For one of the bystanders to push Grimes away from the wires.
Alternatively: You'd expect someone to alert Chief Wiggum, who happens to be in the vicinity at the time, that there is an insane man running wild in an extremely dangerous environment, posing a threat to himself and, potentially, others.
Instead: Nobody bothers to help Frank Grimes out and... "Well, I don't need safety gloves because I'm Homer Simp" ZAP! (cut to Grimes' funeral)
- The Woobie: Frank "Grimey" Grimes. A good portion of fans also felt sorry for him: he was abandoned by his own parents when he was four, had a difficult childhood, had a lot of bad luck in his life. However, he lashed out at Homer, the one person who did feel bad about hurting him, and did anything he could to ruin the man. His failure resulted in him going crazy and electrocuting himself in anger, but due to Homer's antics, everyone laughed when he was lowered in the casket.
YMMV / The Simpsons S8 E23 "Homer's Enemy"