- 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.
- 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?
- Base-Breaking Character: Grimes. Depending on who you ask, he's a Jerkass or The Woobie. This also determined whether you found his death and Homer's final line funny or cruel.
- Crosses the Line Twice: If Frank Grimes' death itself doesn't do the job, the etching of "Grimey" on his tombstone and Homer mumbling "change the channel, Marge" while half-asleep at Grimes' funeral does.
- Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Some find it very hard to root for Grimes due to how unrealistic Grimes' suffering is combined with his jerkass behavior to Homer, who doesn't fare much better due to being deliberately exaggerated in stupidity and selfishness just for the episode to work. Quite a lot of people have said that the Black Comedy Burst of this episode has altogether soured the whole series for them.
- 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 and presumably for all eternity.
- 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 with Grimes when he starts to go crazy, even flat out asking him if he's okay.
- 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).
- Family-Unfriendly Aesop: One of the crowning FUAs of The Simpsons (and that's saying a lot): "We don't live in a meritocracy; some people are just luckier than others, and even if you work hard things won't necessarily turn out well for you".
- Hilarious in Hindsight: Hank Azaria playing a man with perpetually bad luck? Sounds a lot like a certain character he played on a short-lived NBC series.
- 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.
- 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.
- They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Josh Weinstein regretted killing Frank off after only one episode.
- Unintentionally Unsympathetic:
- Frank Grimes. One of the main premises of this episode was the concept of a real person having to put up with Homer Simpson. But Frank is far from a "real" person in that his life is just exaggerated misery after misery, such as his parents abandoning him and waving goodbye all the way to losing a sweet position in the power plant to a dog. And Homer's annoying tendencies and stupidity were amped up a lot more than he usually was as if the writers were specifically trying to make Homer so obnoxious the viewers would have no choice but to sympathize with Frank (and even then Homer, and almost every other character except Mr. Burns is sympathetic towards Frank, just his frustration towards Homer goes over their heads). But it's hard to feel sympathy when Frank is overly wound up already. The episode falls more into Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy. Take one scene where Homer has invited Grimes for dinner, so he and the family have dressed formally and cooked a great meal. Grimes is completely unaware of this "formal occasion" (since Homer lied to Grimes, telling him that he needs to come over because he has something important to say) and mistakes their fancy clothing for being their usual lifestyle, leading to his infamous "The Reason You Suck" Speech. Frank also inadvertently ruined his own sympathy score when he angrily announced that Homer doesn't deserve any of his success and happiness right in front of Marge and the kids. Rather than take utter outrage in Frank's contemptuous outburst towards her husband, Marge rather accurately pinpoints why Frank is so frustrated to a deflated Homer, and even encourages him to empathize with Frank and keep up his attempts to make peace with him (even if Homer doesn't quite get the gist of it in action). Also not helping Frank's case is that he engages in his campaign to humiliate Homer even after Homer attempted to reach out to him and after Homer made a sincere, if somewhat thick-headed, attempt to be more professional.
- Somewhat ironically, Homer is also this: in this episode, both his stupidity and luck are Turned Up to Eleven and, while we're still clearly meant to be on Homer's side, Homer's actions in the episode make it harder than usual, especially considering the frankly brutal ending. The fact that Grimes has no way of knowing about the events of Homer's character development episodes and whose only frame of reference for Homer's antics are what occurs in this episode, which includes having his pencils effectively stolen, witnessing Homer almost drinking acid, bragging about how he regularly cheats the system just to nap, and fairly constantly stuffing his face with donuts while still having a nice home and family, it's sort of hard to argue that, at least for this episode, Homer is actually not a good or even very nice person to have to work with.
- Values Dissonance: Frank Grimes' rant to Homer, particularly his claim that he would have starved to death in any other country because of his sloth, comes off as this considering that the US is one of the most overworked countries in the world and internationally notorious for its lack of worker protections. For viewers from other nations with better worker benefits, Grimes sounds like real-life Americans who complain about how much vacation time they get, how short their working hours are, and how lazy they must be as a result, and that Reality Subtext makes him an even bigger Jerkass than Woobie. Viewers with this in mind would outright scoff that Homer and his family would be just as well off as they are in America in their country given the right circumstances, and that Frank is either a clueless moron who has never stepped foot outside of the USA onto their streets (given how poor Grimes is shown to be, it is unlikely that he'd have the opportunity to visit another country) or a smug supremacist and nationalist bigot who thinks anywhere outside of North American intercontinental waters is a primitive and second world wasteland.
- 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.
YMMV / The Simpsons S8 E23 "Homer's Enemy"