People have long believed that not everything that happens after the Golden Age of The Simpsons is worth considering. Even as a die-hard Simpsons fan, it’s hard for me to disagree too much. After season 11, there’s nothing like Last Exit To Springfield, Homer the Heretic, or the overall greatness of season eight. A while back I wrote that Barthood was the only episode since the Golden Age that would feel right at home when The Simpsons was the undisputed best show on TV. Looking back, I might have been a little harsh with Thanksgiving of Horror, which is also worthy. This weekend, a third episode joined them: A Serious Flanders.
A Serious Flanders is a non-canonical parody of Fargo, with many other references to Coen. It’s not just a fleeting parody used in a handful of scenes, or a vague theme slapped on a lackluster episode like the time the show sort of parodied La La Land as an excuse for an Ed Sheeran cameo. A Serious Flanders is Fargo in the manner of The Shinning is The Shining. It’s a tribute done with the utmost reverence, played straight out and used to build on the original in a new way that respects the source material while adding its own unique twist. It’s the kind of thing the Simpsons did all the time, don’t do anymore, and should be doing a lot more in the future.
Barthood is similar – it’s a cowardly parody of Boyhood, but used to tell an emotional story through Bart’s life, supported by his relationship with his grandfather. I’m not saying The Simpsons should be parodying from now on – we’ve seen how disastrous it can be with the Treehouse episodes – but there’s something in the water here. Barthood and A Serious Flanders are two new ideas. Thanksgiving of Horror chronicles the past, present, and future of Thanksgiving through Simpsonized storylines – that’s another new idea. The other great modern episodes also share this idea. Halloween of Horror is a Halloween episode that explores Lisa’s innocence rather than just a parody of any movie in theaters eight months ago, The Saga of Carl focuses on Carl’s childhood in Iceland , Brick Like Me is Simpsons meets Lego and Holidays Of Future Passed eschews the usual âSimpsons but futureâ jokes to tell a real story. Eternal Moonshine also deserves a mention, but I’ll be damned if I can sum that up succinctly in one sentence.
A Serious Flanders, an incredibly rare two-part episode, feels like you’ve learned from Warrin ‘Priests, the last to try this format. It was a vaguely canonical story of a new priest in town, and because every canon episode is a hard reset of the situation at first, he breathed in his final act something fierce – but it proved the Simpsons could. survive a new way of telling stories. With over 700 episodes in the bag and over 170 top tier episodes securing syndication rights will always be worth a lot of money, the show should be free to take risks. I’m not sure A Serious Flanders is the biggest risk he’s ever taken – it’s either Brick Like Me or the lousy episode where they meet Kodos and Kang for real – but it’s close. , and it’s done with precision.
At the start of the episode, viewers are greeted with a Simpflix logo – like The Simpsons, but Netflix. Considering The Simpsons are on Disney +, that’s a bit odd, but that’s all to set up that A Serious Flanders isn’t canon, using a bingeable Netflix miniseries as the setting. It’s a great move that instantly lets you know this episode is different, without leaning too much on it like Family Guy did in their Totally Fun Guys but not actually I’m serious.
Emmy with the Emmy-Winning episode Season 16 premiere. The direction throughout this episode continues to shine, ruffling the Coens as a bloody wound fades into a sliced ââopen grenade.
The story is simple – Flanders finds the money, donates it in the name of his Patte-Patte and attracts the attention of a stubborn and macabre debt collector. It deals with pride, selfishness, religion, the nature of kindness and many, many murders. Although the title is taken from A Serious Man, it is mostly No Country For Old Men, Miller’s Crossing, and Fargo. We see Mr. Burns blowing his head, the rich Texan beheaded, Homer’s arm burned and scarred, all as people are stabbed, shot and reduced to pulp. Fat Tony is killed by soaking his head in a deep fryer, although in a nod to Billy Bob Thornton’s rampage on the Fargo TV show, viewers stay in the other room and can only hear the carnage . I meant it when I said this episode was taking risks.
Not all future Simpsons episodes need to be violent, parody, non-canon, or two-part. None of the individual ingredients in A Serious Flanders make it excellent. Brian Cox, Timothy Olyphant and Cristin Milioti invited with all the help, but A Serious Flanders works because it’s not weighed down by the 700 episodes that came before it. It’s allowed to be its own thing, and it’s doing something new. Doing something new doesn’t always work – The Serfsons was a bit meh and this season started off with a big musical misfire – but it’s way better than coasting. Far too many episodes have passed.
A Serious Flanders, courageous enough to justify an autonomy of 44 minutes, never picks up a second. If The Simpsons are going to die with dignity – and they will one day die – they have to come out taking more risks like this. Ultimately, no one will remember the winter of our monetized content.
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