Warning: this review contains spoilers.
It’s not often that I can say that I am actually excited for an episode of The Simpsons but this week was a rare treat. Of course it has nothing to do with the actual Simpsons, rather the special guests. Not only was co-creator of The Office and voice of Wheatley in Portal 2, Stephen Merchant to appear this week but “Sweet Dee” Reynolds from It’s Always Sunny In Philidelphia, Kaitlin Olson was listed to appear in the tenth episode of The Simpsons’ twenty-seventh season. There is no question in my mind that these two people are funny so it was just down to the writing team to deliver these expectations, yellow fingers crossed.
The Girl Code
Springfield Elementary has surreptitiously started its own coding class and with a new class comes a new teacher, Quinn (Kaitlin Olsin). After an ill-advised post to Facelook from Marge, Homer gets fired and returns to his old job of dishwasher in a Greek restaurant. This post spawns an idea within Lisa to create an app called Conrad (Stephen Merchant) that will predict the repercussions of an online post. Sorry for describing the episode in the most boring way possible but sometimes it helps to determine whether the plot was up to scratch and I’m still not quite sure.
There is no denying that I am bias but both Kaitlin Olson and Stephen Merchant did a great job. Olson is both funny and believable as a “female coder” and Merchant delivers a performance that is a cross between a less evil Wheatley and a less evil Siri. This is where I’m unsure, did I enjoy this episode because I liked the guest stars or is it legitimately a great episode? Well, it’s very easy to dismiss the Homer storyline, boring and too short. That is all that needs to be said on the matter.
Another quick route to my heart is the nerdy reference and you can’t get much nerdier than Silicon Valley. Well you could go ultra-nerdy but you’d need a huge beard and the password to the underground supenerd dungeons to even be able to pronounce those references. Lisa’s entire storyline was a spoof of Silicon Valley, the first series in particular and does a pretty great job of making the story familiar enough to allow it to be recognisable but not going to far so that it becomes a carbon copy of the original. To be fair, it was pretty easy for the writers to change the story enough. All they had to do was remove all the swears and circle-jerk talk.
After much consideration I have decided that yes this episode was pretty good but not great. It had a touch of a heartwarming Simpsons ending while not going too smooshy. Conrad helped with this by delivering the best line of the episode; “Your species is on the precipice of turning into complete and utter wankers.” The story was very funny with at least two laugh-out-loud moments and riddled with background jokes. My reasoning for not calling this out as a great episode is the slightly predictable nature of the overall story that I have come to expect from The Simpsons nowadays.
Alternative chic chick is a badarse look for Lisa and this approach helps the episode take another step away from Silicon Valley. It doesn’t necessarily change her attitude or character and Lisa steps up to the plate to deliver possibly the best story of the season. Unfortunately coupling this one of the worst stories of the season doesn’t really help but the Seinfeld-esque link to each story was quite nice.
Sometimes I wish that I knew code so that I could point out the preposterous amounts of glaring errors television and film are getting away with when they bring up this topic but then I remember how hard it is or at least how hard it looks and then I just go back to watching these television shows and films. Since I don’t know code, I don’t have any other nitpicks apart from the fact that Stephen Merchant was clearly chosen because every American thinks that a British person is extremely posh unless they come from the east side of London.
Forty minutes of The Simpsons later (because I accidentally watched an episode from about six years ago) and about half an hour of reflection and I have come to a conclusive decision that I will surely think is incorrect immediately after this review has been posted. Homer’s storyline is nothing but a waste of time but Lisa’s is one of the best, if not, the best of the season. Great cameos, hilarious jokes and a half decent plotline. If only I was rating this episode out of one hundred, I could give it a bakers half-hundred (55) but alas that is not the case and I shall rate this episode a 3.5 out of 5 stars.