The Simpsons/Homer the Heretic
Homer the Heretic is the third episode of the fourth season of The Simpsons, and the sixty-second episode overall. Homer discovers the joys of staying home from church and decides to start his own religion, which mainly consists of him sitting around watching football in his underwear.
A blizzard is raging in Springfield and Marge is attempting to force the rest of the family to go to church despite the cold weather. Homer indulges her at first, but after he rips his pants, he decides that he's better off staying beneath the warm covers of his bed. While he discovers the joys of being able to stay home alone, the rest of the family is stuck in the unheated church listening to Rev. Lovejoy give a long sermon. After the service ends, the churchgoers find that the only exit is frozen shut. Groundskeeper Willie, luckily has a blowtorch handy and frees the people from church but Marge and the kids can't get the car started. They finally get home and Homer announces that because of his great day, he's never going to church again.
That night, Marge prays for Homer's soul while he tries desperately to woo her into bed. While she's praying, Homer falls asleep and dreams that God pulls the roof off of his house and accuses him of forsaking His church. After explaining himself, God sits down on the couch next to Homer and the two wind up having much of the same views about religion. God agrees with Homer's idea to worship in his own way outside of church and goes off to appear on a tortilla in Mexico.
Still hoping to change Homer's mind, Marge invites Rev. Lovejoy to eat dinner with them. He quotes a few passages from the Bible at him but Homer remains undeterred, thanks to his dream. He takes things a step further, however, when he starts inventing his own holidays to get off work and folding them into an offshoot religion. Ned sees this as an opportunity to reconvert him using a song about Noah and a high speed car chase. He barely manages to escape from the Flanders by launching his car off a dock and onto a barge headed for garbage island.
Every attempt to save her husband's soul fails and Marge once again heads to church without Homer where the sermon is all about how Homer is an agent of the devil. Meanwhile, he spends part of the morning reading magazines and being solicited by Krusty on behalf of the Society for Jewish Clowns, buys beer from Apu (after insulting his Hindu religion) and falling asleep on the couch with a lit cigar in his mouth. The cigar starts a fire which brings the volunteer fire squad to his rescue... but they're stopped by a parade of ducks waddling across the road. Ned, who was not in church for some reason, manages to save his neighbor while the squad pulls up to save his house. The fire spreads to Ned's house but a small raincloud extinguishes it quickly. Homer manages to learn a lesson about how faith drives the hearts of the people who saved him and he promises to be in church next Sunday.
Cut to next Sunday, Homer is fast asleep in the church. While he's sleeping, he dreams about meeting God again, who tells him not to worry because 9 out of 10 religions fail in their first year. Homer asks God what the meaning of life is, but God's answer is cut off by the theme music.
- Blackboard: "I will not defame New Orleans." The final line cuts off at "Ne."
- Couch Gag: The family runs into the room and sits on the couch, but the wall swivels around, putting them behind a hidden passage and leaving an empty couch in their place.
- Short Shorts by The Royal Teens: The song which Homer dances to in his underwear is "Short Shorts" by The Royal Teens. The song has become a cheesy staple of cartoons and commercials and will go on to appear several times in the series. It was the Royal Teens' only hit and most familiar with the song don't know that they performed it.
- 4x02 - A Streetcar Called Marge: The blackboard gag is a reference to the previous episode which famously caused a controversy in the streets of New Orleans because of the inclusion of a song which seemingly mocked the city ruthlessly when in actuality most people only saw the lyrics out of context and drew their opinions from there.
- Evolutionary Trait: Whenever God first appears on screen, he clearly has five fingers on each hand, as opposed to just four fingers on the average Simpsons character. In His last appearance in the episode, He only has four fingers. Despite religious scholars reading elaborate commentary into this change, it was actually just an animation slip that got past director Jim Reardon.
- Joke Ruined: When Homer asks God what the meaning of life is, God's answer was supposed to be cut off by the promo for whatever was coming up next on FOX. But, when the episode aired, the network didn't air the promo for once, making the joke go nowhere.
Behind the Scenes
- Production Company: This is the first Simpsons episode to be produced by Film Roman, who previously had mainly produced animated Garfield specials and wasn't used to the breakneck pace at which episodes are produced. It was also the first episode to be animated overseas by Rough Draft Studios, which had only been created a year earlier for The Ren & Stimpy Show.
- Phony Holiday: Homer made up the religious holiday "Feast of Maximum Occupancy" named after the Moe's Tavern occupancy limit of 65 people. Some Simpsons fans celebrate this holiday on June 5th (or 6/5) every year.
Allusions and References
- Risky Business: While Homer is at home, enjoying his Sunday, he slides past the threshold of the door wearing only his slippers, underwear, a shirt and a pair of sunglasses. This is a direct reference to a similar scene featuring Tom Cruise in the film Risky Business when he's left home alone. The difference in the movie, however, is that he dances to "Old Time Rock and Roll" by Bob Seger and not "We Wear Short Shorts."
- The Three Stooges: One of the television programs Homer watches during his vacation from church is The Three Stooges. In the episode, like most Three Stooges shorts, the three are asked to do some kind of job that they're under qualified for, but Moe insults them into doing it anyway. This prompts Homer to chuckle and comment on how "Moe is their leader."