That '90s Show
- "I had finally achieved every rock star's dream: hating being famous."
- ―Homer Simpson
| "That '90s Show"
| Episode Information
"That '90s Show" is the eleventh episode of season 19 of The Simpsons and the four-hundred and eleventh episode overall. It originally aired on January 27, 2008. The episode was written by Matt Selman and directed by Mark Kirkland. It guest stars "Weird Al" Yankovic as himself and Kurt Loder as himself.
- "After Bart and Lisa discover Marge's diploma from Springfield University, Homer and Marge recount one of the darkest points in their relationship, when Marge fell in love with a university professor, Steffan August."
At home, the Simpson family are freezing as Homer forgot to pay the heating bill. After the family starts throwing random junk onto the fireplace to keep it warm, Lisa finds Marge's university diploma. The kids didn't know that Marge went to Springfield University so Marge begins to tell the story of that time in their lives. Back in the '90s, Homer and Marge moved into their first apartment together, at Springfield Place. At the time, Homer was part of a light hip-hop smooth groove group with Lenny, Carl and Lou. Homer and Marge may have been broke, but they were happy.
However, what Marge hadn't told Homer was that she had applied to Springfield University. One day, she got the letter of acceptance for university, and found it would cost her $3,000 a year. Homer took up a job at Simpson Laser Tag, working for his father, in order to help get Marge through university. At university, Marge went to take her first class, with Professor Steffan August teaching it. Professor August took an immediate liking to Marge and her attitude towards the class, and Marge also took a liking to him, arranging to speak to him outside of class.
Back in the present, the gas man arrives at the Simpson house to fix the boiler. He offers to tell a story to the family, but they tell him they're already in the middle of a story. They then carry on telling it. In Professor August's class, Marge seems to become more interested in him, kissing up to him. Meanwhile, outside of class, she was becoming more and more annoyed with her relationship with Homer. She also started to imagine Homer as Professor August, much to her shock. At university the next day, Marge shows her Protest Studies art piece of August. She then drops a note from Homer, saying "I miss you". Professor August twists the meaning of the note, claiming that Homer thinks he owns Marge, and tells Marge to rethink her relationship before it's too late.
Another day, Homer goes to the university to find Marge. He finds her in Professor August's office and gets annoyed at the relationship between Marge and August, angrily leaving. After this, Homer changes the genre of music of his group, becoming a grunge band instead, calling themselves Sadgasm. They played their first song, "Politically Incorrect", on the college green. Marge came out after the song and had an argument with Homer about the way he treats her, resulting in them breaking up. They split their stuff and go their separate ways. Homer then started to spend all his time at Moe's Tavern, which was a cigar bar at this time. Meanwhile, Marge and Steffan August had started dating each other.
At Professor August's house, he starts to have a mental breakdown over a football match, needing whale songs to calm him down. He then asks Marge in a roundabout way whether she wants to kiss him. Marge tells him to just do it, and they kiss. Meanwhile, Homer was hitting rock bottom. "Weird Al" Yankovic had covered one of Sadgasm's songs, "Shave Me", which he called "Brain Freeze". However, Homer wasn't excited about this as he was sick of life. At the same time, Marge and Professor August were on a date on the beach. After they see a wedding, August tells Marge that wedding oppress women and he doesn't like them. Marge says that she wants to get married one day and August talks down to her about this, saying that's why people think women are stupid. Marge gets annoyed at his attitude and calls him "Associate Professor Jerk", storming away from him. August yells after her, saying he only got denied tenure as his department head is an idiot. Professor Moose then comes along and hammers August into the sand.
Marge was sad in a bar, watching Homer play a song, "Margerine", on TV. She then realizes the song is about her and realizes Homer still loves her. The song is then interrupted for a news report by Kurt Loder, who announces that Sadgasm have broken up and Homer has holed himself up in his home and is addicted to narcotics. Marge rushes to go help him, flushing away all the drugs and helping him get better. However, Homer had actually needed the drugs as they were insulin as he had become diabetic. Homer and Marge then get back together again, looking forward to the future. Back in the preset, Homer and Marge reflect on what happened in the past. After this, an elderly university dean walked past the house, muttering "townies".
The writers acknowledge the fact the episode is controversial among fans. Matt Selman said that the flashbacks that had all the '80s references inspired him to do one with '90s references, hence this episode being made. Selman went to college in the early '90s so he said it was like writing about his own experiences. Hank Azaria was inspired by Philip Seymour Hoffman's voice for the voice of Steffan August. Marge's hair in the episode was inspired by Jennifer Aniston's hair in Friends. Richard Sakai did all the work in post for the episode as the writer's guild strike was going on at the time. The episode was sped up by removing frames. Kurt Loder voiced his character over the phone.
An estimated 7.58 million viewers tuned in to the episode. Richard Keller of TV squad enjoyed the many cultural references to the 1990s, but felt disappointed that the episode changed The Simpsons continuity. Robert Canning of IGN strongly disliked the episode, also feeling that the continuity change was not a good choice. He said, "What 'That '90s Show' did was neither cool nor interesting. Instead, it insulted lifelong Simpsons fans everywhere. With this episode, the writers chose to change the history of the Simpson family." He gave the episode a 3/10, and suggested that this episode should have been set a decade earlier to fit classic Simpsons continuity.
- Selman, Matt Commentary for "That '90s Show", on Simpsonsworld.com.
- Jean, Al Commentary for "That '90s Show", on Simpsonsworld.com.
- Simpsons Channel - "Ratings: That 90's Show" (archived on Wayback Machine)
- IGN - "The Simpsons: That '90s Show Review" (archived on Wayback Machine)
- IMDb - "That '90s Show"
- TV.com - "That '90s Show"