When Flanders Failed
- "Homer, affordable tract housing made us neighbors, but you made us friends."
- ―Ned Flanders
| "When Flanders Failed"
| Episode Information
"When Flanders Failed" is the third episode of season 3 of The Simpsons and the thirty-eighth episode overall. It originally aired on October 3, 1991. The episode was written by Jon Vitti and directed by Jim Reardon.
- "When Ned Flanders announces at a barbecue that he's starting his own general store catering to the left-handed, Homer wishes that his goody-goody neighbor will suffer financial ruin. Meanwhile, Bart takes karate class, but ends up cutting it when he realizes that it's not as exciting as it's cracked up to be."
Ned Flanders invites the Simpsons over for a barbecue. Initially the entire family attends, but Homer declines because he doesn't like Ned. However, once he smells the food cooking, he quickly reconsiders. While they eat, Ned announces that he is quitting his job and opening a specialty store for left-handed people, called The Leftorium. Almost immediately, Homer begins to hope that Ned fails in his new venture, even wishing on a wishbone for him to bottom out.
In a side plot, after a lecture from Marge about exercise, Bart asks to take karate lessons. While taking him on his first day, Homer gets his first look at Ned's new store. Business doesn't seem to be going very well, which pleases Homer. On his first lesson, Bart finds that karate isn't what he thought it would be, having been given Sun Bin's Art of War to study before techniques, and takes to the arcade to play karate video games during his following lessons, merely pretending he is actually learning karate.
Things progress in this vein, and even when Homer begins to witness left-handed people who would benefit from patronizing Ned's store, he does nothing to send them in that direction. Soon after, Flanders begins to experience financial hardship as a result of his failing business venture. Rather than helping him, he buys most of Ned's belongings at a garage sale. Eventually, Ned loses his store and is forced to close.
On the school playground, bullies antagonize Lisa, and she calls upon Bart to defend her with his martial arts skills. Predictably, he gets pummelled. That night, Homer finds the Flanders family living in their car after losing their house, and Homer has a heart-to-heart with him. Stricken with guilt, Homer decides to take it upon himself to make several phone calls and get everyone to start buying there.
The episode featured an unusual amount of animation glitches because the animation studio in Korea was training a new group of animators, and this episode was one of their first efforts. Mike Reiss said he will always remember it as the episode "that came back animated with a thousand mistakes in it and was just a complete and utter mess." Reardon said there was "literally a mistake in every other scene" when the episode came back from Korea. Several scenes had to be re-animated in the United States because of these glitches, but according to Reardon, "you can still see the lesser ones that got through, such as line quality problems particularly in the first act."
In its original American broadcast, "When Flanders Failed" finished 29th in the ratings for the week of September 30–October 6, 1991, with a Nielsen rating of 13.9, equivalent to approximately 12.8 million viewing households.
In 2003, "When Flanders Failed" was utilized in a Roanoke Presbyterian Church Sunday School class to stimulate a discussion among both children and adults about why unfortunate things happen to good people. Phil Brown, the teacher of the class, said the reason they used episodes of The Simpsons was "to get something that would get the kids excited and be more than just a traditional Sunday School lecture series."
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|Season 3 Episodes|
|Stark Raving Dad • Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington • When Flanders Failed • Bart the Murderer • Homer Defined • Like Father, Like Clown • Treehouse of Horror II • Lisa's Pony • Saturdays of Thunder • Flaming Moe's • Burns Verkaufen der Kraftwerk • I Married Marge • Radio Bart • Lisa the Greek • Homer Alone • Bart the Lover • Homer at the Bat • Separate Vocations • Dog of Death • Colonel Homer • Black Widower • The Otto Show • Bart's Friend Falls in Love • Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes?|