Here’s another example of my memory playing tricks on me. I remembered Gift of the Magi as being absolutely horrible, perhaps the very moment I decided that The Simpsons was no longer for me. I was shocked to discover that the episode is actually… totally fine. Not great, but solid enough to qualify it as one of the standouts of Season 11. It circumvents both godlike greatness and abject failure, settling for comforting mediocrity. In other words: things could be better, but they could also be a lot worse.

Gift of the Magi is overstuffed with ideas, but the way…


This episode really bummed me out. Not because it was horrible, but because it could have been good. Take My Wife, Sleaze had a lot going for it. For one thing, it’s the best usage of guest stars I’ve seen on the show in a long time. John Goodman and Henry Winkler both get actual roles to play, rather than simply portraying idealized versions of themselves, and the original Dennis the Menace even shows up as a pathetic adult version of himself. …


So… last year was weird. Theaters were closed, tons of bigger movies were delayed, and the films that were released were scattered across a dozen streaming services. What we were left with was a fascinating year in film, one where smaller movies took the spotlight. If the Oscar nominations look especially diverse this year it’s only because these great independent films, usually confined to the fringes, had a real chance to shine. Stories like these… Korean immigrants starting a farm or fur trappers stealing milk from a cow or a woman living out her van… they’d still be out there…


The topic of Apu is one so fraught with controversy that it feels strange to review an episode about him without at least acknowledging the issue. However, I already covered this in some depth in my discussion of the last Apu-centric episode, I’m with Cupid, and doing so every single time will quickly become both boring and exhausting. So let’s just get it all out on the table: Apu is a misguided character sometimes used to dispel or refute cliches but just as often mocked for his inherent otherness. I love the character, but I agree that his inclusion, handled…


Homer’s characterization is nothing if not… inconsistent. Sure, he’s a multi-faceted guy, and everybody’ll surprise you from time to time. That being said, there’s a difference between complexity and inconsistency. Complexity can be surprising, but it has to be believable. In these past couple of seasons, Homer has kind of been exactly what the writers needed him to be, whether it made sense for his character or not. His personality, and the way his mind works in general, was being adapted to fit the story being told and his role within it. …


I’ve been waiting for this moment since the start of this blog. E-I-E-I-(Annoyed Grunt) is one of my all-time favorite episodes of the Simpsons. It is always a pleasure to watch, and it is likewise a pleasure to review. That being said, its name is terrible. To start with, this episode is really called E-I-E-I-D’oh, which is slightly better. “Annoyed grunt” is the way that “d’oh” is written in Simpsons scripts, since the original “d’oh” was an improvised noise by Dan Castellaneta. I have been writing this blog for months, and I still don’t know how to spell his name…


Treehouse of Horror X was a pleasant surprise. Turns out I’ve been quoting this one for years. I get my Treehouse of Horrors mixed up sometimes, understandably I think. I couldn’t tell you which specific year most of the shorts appeared in. They all just jumble together into a lovely nostalgic brain lump. Maybe I need a CAT scan. Regardless, what I’m trying to say is that I had no idea that these jokes I’ve loved for years were Season 11 jokes. I just sort of assumed they happened earlier, in one of the show’s “classic seasons.” But nope, turns…


So far, Homer has been my least favorite part of Season 11. That’s a shame, since he’s typically my favorite member of the Simpsons family. However, in these past few episodes, the writing for Homer has been especially weak. He’s come off as annoying and offputting, and his jokes just have not landed most of the time. Guess Who’s Coming to Criticize Dinner is a step in the right direction… until it isn’t. This episode carries the burden of one of Season 10’s most prevalent issues: nobody ever learns their lesson. …


Treatment of ADD and ADHD in young children is a topic that can inspire a very emotional response. Some people credit medications like Ritalin with significantly bettering their children's lives, others say that such pills are overprescribed and often unnecessary. We see both sides of the debate in Brother’s Little Helper. Bart gets prescribed a Ritalin-esque drug called Focusyn and it helps for a while. He becomes a more attentive student and a more obedient son, but at the eventual cost of his sanity. He goes nuts, steals a tank, wrecks shit up… Drugs are bad.

Or are they? This…


And so we begin Season 11. As you might be able to tell from the date of my last post I’ve been putting this one off a bit, and that’s for one simple reason: I was dreading it. I watched Season 11 long ago, when I was a tiny boy, and I remember thinking that Beyond Blunderdome was the worst episode of The Simpsons I’d ever seen. Have I changed my mind? Sort of. There is some humor that works here. Some of the jokes are reasonably clever. I wasn’t cringing as much as I was expecting to. …

Max Castleman

Mainly reviewing movies, but also music, literature and whatever else, not to change minds but to start an engaging discussion. Remember, art is subjective.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store