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Rodney Ho covers TV and radio, from Atlanta’s stations to the hottest “American Idol" news.
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Ironic Simpsons recap: Lisa and Homer Simpson become TV recappers

Let’s go super meta here

Originally posted Monday, November 26, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Over the past 14 years, part of my job as an entertainment blogger has been recapping shows such as “American Idol,” “The Walking Dead” and “Real Housewives of Atlanta.” And yes, people have asked more than once: how does he get paid to do that?

Well, I somehow do. And it’s nice to see this ridiculous part of my job has become a major plot device on the latest episode of “The Simpsons,” which aired last night.

So what couldn’t be more ironic or meta than me recapping “The Simpsons” about TV recapping?

Well, here we go:

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Lisa Simpson’s school newspaper is in financial trouble and a new fidget-spinning boss comes in to institute click-bait style changes to ensure its survival. “Pop culture quizzes, sponsored lists, headlines that grab you by the book bag. You won’t believe what Milhouse looks like now!” 

The new boss hates self-righteous Lisa and assigns her a new job: TV recapper.

She explains to her mom: “I watch every episode of a show,  then write a summary, followed by snarky comments and a letter grade.”

Marge: “Sometimes I do worry I have the wrong opinions of what I’ve just seen.”

Lisa watches some Krusty the Clown and sinks into her couch in despair: “This isn’t me! What kind of person can just spew out of an endless stream of knee-jerk reactions?”

Then she comes up with an idea: Homer should do it!

He reviews Krusty the Clown’s show and gives an episode a (gasp!) B-minus. Krusty is not pleased. And Homer’s grades get worse as Krusty’s anger reaches a boiling point.

“I’ll teach you to insult a thin-skinned Hollywood narcissist,” Krusty says. He runs Homer off the road. Bart Simpson sees both of them injured and naturally goes to Krusty instead of his dad and steals him away to the circus.

Homer, in the meantime, becomes a minor celebrity. Two fans including Comic Book Guy arrive at his door agog. “It’s like we’re talking to Hemingway!” one says. They offer to pay him to recap for Culture Smash (think AV Club or Vulture). 

“Thank you content-addicted click baiters!” Homer says. 

His job: recap 30 shows. “This month?” he asks.

“No. Tonight. Welcome to peak TV!” Comic Book Guy says.

And since I just did a recap of “The Walking Dead,” here’s Homer’s take: “Too much walking, not enough dead. C-plus.”

“Game of Thrones. Who is everybody? A-plus.”

“Stranger Things. Spielberg’s back! C-minus.”

His obsession with recapping extends to the bedroom and Marge has had enough. She leaves and Homer notes they just lost their best character.

In the meantime, Krusty fails miserably at circus clowning and is fired. But they need him to fill in at the last second on the trapeze and he manages to pull of an entertaining act that gets him his job back. And he’s happy - and even gets some kissy-time with the bearded lady.

But like Ringling Brothers, this particular circus has to shut down. They need $50,000 to stay alive.

Sacrificing himself, Krusty allows them to capture him for attempted murder and the circus receives the $50,000 reward. The jury then buys his self-defense argument because Homer gave “Outlander” an undeserved B-minus . “I heard it gets really good eight episodes in,” the judges notes.

Homer quits his recapping job to save his marriage. But an exec at Google-Disney brings him up to his office suite and notes that there are 500 scripted shows out there. You see many of the names scroll by. 
“Why are you making so many shows?” Homer asks. “No one could watch more than 300 of them!”
“We don’t care if people watch,” he said. “We just care if they subscribe for $13 a month.” He said they don’t even have to make the shows. He just wants them to believe the show is there when it isn’t and recappers like him giving it a B-minus will ensure nobody will bother to check it out.

To prove his point, the executive brings up USA Network. Homer identifies some of their shows: “Royal Pains,” “Suits,” “White Collar.”

“Have you actually seen any of those shows?

“No!” Homer said. “But somebody must have!” 

“There is no USA Network!” the exec exclaims. “There hasn’t been in 20 years! It’s just bus ads!’

After he’s freed, the circus rejects Krusty so he goes back to TV clowning, where he is thrilled when new TV recapper Ralph gives him an A. 

In the end, this episode gives aggrandized importance to TV recappers, which I appreciate. But to be honest, I am not certain this part of my job is important as it used to be. Still, because this episode is about my job and I’m an easily manipulated journalistic narcissist, I give this episode an A!

About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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