There's No Disgrace Like Home
- "Family bliss or double your money back."
- ―Marvin Monroe
| "There's No Disgrace Like Home"
| Episode Information
"There's No Disgrace Like Home" is the fourth episode of season 1 of The Simpsons. It originally aired on January 28, 1990. The episode was written by Al Jean and Mike Reiss and directed by Gregg Vanzo and Kent Butterworth.
- "After an embarrassing experience at the company picnic, Homer begins to wonder if his family's too dysfunctional. Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie attend family therapy sessions with Dr. Marvin Monroe, an unorthodox psychotherapist who uses shock therapy to "cure" them."
The episode begins with Bart and Lisa in the living room, pushing and shoving each other, while having an argument. Homer quickly rushes in to break them up. He tells them to get the bad behavior out of their system, because they're going to Mr. Burns company picnic, and he doesn't want his family to embarrass him in front of Mr. Burns. In the kitchen, Homer admires all of the gelatin desserts Marge prepared for the picnic. Homer is hoping to earn brownie points with Burns because Burns commented once before on how he liked Marge's gelatin dessert.
The Simpsons drive to Mr. Burns' mansion, and each family member carries a dessert in their lap. As they arrive at the mansion and walk up to the front door, Homer reminds his family they need to behave and show him some love and/or respect. At the front door to the mansion, Mr. Burns greets his guests. The kid in the family ahead of the Simpsons makes a smart aleck comment, and Mr. Burns orders Smithers to fire the child's father. A nervous Homer and the rest of the family make it through their greeting with Burns without incident.
Cut to the backyard of the mansion where Homer once again tells his family they have to act normal. Bart and Lisa quickly run off to play in the water fountain, and Homer chases after them leaving Marge and Maggie behind. Another woman carrying a baby approaches Marge and suggests they place their babies in the nursery and grab a glass of punch together. Marge is reluctant at first, but after seeing Homer chase the misbehaving kids around the backyard, she decides to have a glass of punch. Cut back to Homer disciplining Bart, when Smithers comes over a loudspeaker and announces the father-son sack race. Homer reminds Bart they have to let Mr. Burns win. Meanwhile, Marge is conversing with the other wives. She begins to get a little tipsy from too much punch.
Back to the sack race, where Smithers gives Mr. Burns a head start and fires the starting gun. Mr. Burns is out in front of everyone, when suddenly, Bart can't stand it anymore and decides to make a break for the finish line. Homer quickly hops up ahead and tackles Bart just short of the finish line, allowing Mr. Burns to finish first. Meanwhile, a heavily intoxicated Marge leads all of the women in a song and dance number, when Homer, chasing Bart and Lisa, runs by and is shocked at Marge's behavior. He quickly whisks her away from the punch and tells her to keep it together because Mr. Burns is about to give a toast.
Everyone at the picnic gathers as Mr. Burns gives a toast. He thanks everyone for coming, but tells them all to leave immediately because the hounds will be released in 10 minutes. Everyone heads out, and Homer notices the family ahead of them; the son gives the father a kiss and tells him he had a great time. Mr. Burns witnesses this, and Homer overhears Burns tell Smithers to give that man a raise. Homer quickly turns around, and tells Bart to give him a kiss; Bart reluctantly agrees, Homer puts on a cheesy smile, but Burns is not amused. Outside in the parking lot, Homer confronts the father from the "perfect" family ahead of him, and tells him he can stop the fake cornball routine. But the father doesn't understand what Homer's talking about. Homer watches as the two kids from the "perfect" family politely open the car door for each other, and he notices the wife offers to drive the family home after a long day. Homer turns to his family and sees Bart and Lisa fighting over the backseat and Marge in the front seat, looking like she's about to vomit. As the "perfect" family drives off, Homer envisions the clouds opening up and a beam of sunlight coming down upon them as they float up to the Heavens. When Homer turns back to his family, he envisions them as devilish creatures trying to pull him down to Hell. Homer, ashamed of his family, drives them home.
The next day, Marge and the kids eat TV dinners in the living room and all watch television when Homer walks in and decides tonight, they are all going to eat at the dinner table like a normal family. Cut to everyone seated at the dinner table, Lisa asks if he's happy now and, when Homer says yes, everyone begins piling food into their mouths. Homer yells at them to stop and tells Bart to offer a prayer first before everyone eats. Bart's half attempt at a prayer forces Homer to lead a prayer of his own. During his prayer, he expresses his dissatisfaction with the way his family behaves. When Marge and the kids tell Homer they think nothing's wrong with the family, Homer decides to prove to them there's something wrong. He leads the family in a tour around the neighborhood, peeking into random houses to observe their neighbors. The first house they peek into contains a happy family sitting down to a nice fancy dinner. Bart suggests this family's the exception to the rule, and Homer shows his family another house. Inside the next house, the two parents have a nice conversation with their son. But the father hears the Simpsons just outside his window and chases them off with a shotgun. The Simpsons run off into another family's yard, walk up to the window, and peek in. Only after Bart comments about what a dump the place is and after Homer tramples the flowerbed, do they realize it's actually their house. Everyone goes back inside except a bummed Homer, who announces he's going to Moe's for a while.
At Moe's, Homer sits at the bar, watches some boxing on TV and drinks a beer when Eddie and Lou, the two local corruptible cops, stop in for a beer. They mention they're searching for a family of prowlers, and their scent dog goes crazy when he picks up Homer's scent. Lucky for Homer, the cops are oblivious to the dog and leave without incident. Homer explains what's on his mind to Moe and Barney, and,when Barney tells Homer he got dealt a bad hand and no one can control his kids, Homer becomes defensive with Barney and punches him in the face. An unfazed Barney pounds Homer on top of the head, and Homer goes down hard, mimicking the fight on TV. As Homer lies on the ground, he looks up at the TV and sees a commercial for Dr. Marvin Monroe's Family Therapy Center. Dr. Monroe claims he can fix any family's problems or double their money back. Homer suddenly realizes the answer to his problems and dials the toll free phone number from the commercial.
Marge and the kids watch an untitled Itchy & Scratchy, when Homer walks in the living room and announces he made an appointment at Dr. Monroe's Family Therapy Center. The family balks at the idea, but Homer is insistent although it will cost $250. Homer decides to use the money from the kids college fund to pay for the appointment. But when it's revealed the fund has only $85.50 in it, Homer goes to extreme measures and pawns the TV for the remainder of the needed money. The family pleads with him not to, but Homer is on a mission to make his family better. In the waiting room at the Family Therapy Center, Homer approaches the cashier with $250 in cash and, as he holds the money in his hand, he begins to wonder if the therapy will be worth it. But when Homer sees a happy family heavily resembling their family exit from a treatment session, Homer becomes determined again to make his family better. Homer plunks the money down, and Dr. Monroe comes out into the waiting room to greet the Simpsons.
The therapy treatment begins as Dr. Monroe brings them into another room, sits them down, and asks them each to draw a picture representing the source of their unhappiness. Marge and the kids all draw a picture of Homer, while Homer gets lost in the task and begins drawing a picture of an airplane. Monroe explains to Homer that he is a stern authority figure. When Bart chimes and agrees with Dr. Monroe, Homer becomes filled with rage, picks up a lamp and threatens to smash Bart with it. Monroe calms Homer down and asks the family to try a different exercise. The next exercise involves the family beating each other with giant foam mallets. The exercise doesn't seem to work though, because the family grows tired of swinging the mallets; the exercise ends when Bart removes the foam from his mallet and whacks Dr. Monroe in the knee with it. Monroe can see the Simpson family is not responding to conventional treatment, so his next exercise for the family's a bit different.
He places all five Simpsons in their own chairs, hooked up to deliver an electric shock. Each chair has buttons which, when pressed, will deliver an electric shock to another corresponding chair. With all of the Simpsons strapped in, Dr. Monroe instructs them only to shock someone else if that person hurts them emotionally. But the exercise quickly becomes a free-for-all, everyone shocking each other repeatedly. The lights in the Family Therapy Center and all across Springfield dim and fade. A quick cut to Mr. Burns shows he is loving all of the energy use. Back at the center Monroe screams at the Simpsons to stop, but to no avail. Monroe is forced to pull the plug on the machine because the Simpsons are overheating it. Monroe kicks the Simpsons out, but Homer demands double his money back as the commercial advertised. Outside, Monroe pays Homer the $500 and the Simpsons happily walk away. They all feel a sense of camaraderie with each other and feel good for having "earned" the $500. Everyone expresses their love towards Homer and he announces with the $500, he is going to buy a brand new television.
 The episode shows telltale signs of being one of the earliest shows of the season produced. The characters act slightly different than they would in later seasons. Lisa is a brat, Marge is a drunk and Homer is concerned that his family is going to make him look bad. It was an early episode for Mr. Burns, in which he had a different voice than the one it would later become. Originally, the character was influenced by Ronald Reagan, but that conceit was later dropped. The idea that he would greet his employees using index cards was, however, inspired by Reagan's reported habit of doing so when greeting people. The episode marks the first time Burns says "release the hounds". It also marked the first appearance of Eddie and Lou, although Lou was not black, but instead yellow like the rest of the characters. Lou was named after Lou Whitaker - a former Major League Baseball player. It is the first appearance of Itchy & Scratchy, although the cat and mouse duo appeared in the shorts.
The idea behind the scene in which the family takes turn to electrically shock each other was based on Laurel & Hardy throwing pies at each other, albeit played out more sadistically. The scene was rearranged in the editing room, because when it was first produced it played out differently. The edits made to the finished product were preliminary, however they were received well and remained unchanged.
The authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, note: "It's very strange to see Homer pawning the TV set in an attempt to save the family; if this episode had come later Marge would surely have taken this stance." They continue, "A neat swipe at family counselling with some great set pieces; we're especially fond of the perfect version of the Simpsons and the electric-shock aversion therapy". In a DVD review of the first season, David B. Grelck gave the episode a rating of 2.0/5.0, placing it as one of the worst of the season.
This episode would have been one of the first seen by British viewers. It was the first episode to be broadcast by the BBC on November 23, 1996 on a Saturday at 5.30pm, because the episodes were shown out of order. The episode was screened with five million viewers, slightly less than the show, Dad's Army, which previously held the timeslot. The episode also faced competition from ITV's screening of Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
In other languages
- Jean, Al. (2001). The Simpsons season 1 DVD commentary for the episode "There's No Disgrace Like Home" [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- Groening, Matt. (2001). The Simpsons season 1 DVD commentary for the episode "There's No Disgrace Like Home" [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- Reiss, Mike. (2001). The Simpsons season 1 DVD commentary for the episode "There's No Disgrace Like Home" [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- Grelck, David B (2003). The Simpsons: The Complete First season. WDBG Productions. Retrieved on 2008-01-14.
- Williams, Steve; Ian Jones (March 2005). THAT IS SO 1991!. OFF THE TELLY. Retrieved on 2008-01-24.
- It is a joke about proverb "Mindenhol jó, de legjobb otthon" (It is good everywhere, but it is the best at home.)