2.6 Dead Putting Society
Bart and Todd (Flanders) enter a putting competition, and Homer and Ned stipulate that the father of the boy who doesn’t win has to mow the lawn in their wife’s Sunday dress.
“Dead Putting Society” explores class conflict and parents who live vicariously through their children.
At the beginning of the episode Homer visits Ned’s house, which is frustratingly perfect. The rumpus room has a pool table, foosball table, (full) trophy case, and a bar complete with draught beer from Holland. It’s tough for Homer, who clearly makes less than Ned, a longtime pharmaceutical salesman.
So Homer’s explosion at Ned is understandable from that perspective, though he also comments that Ned’s wife, Maude has a better ass than Marge, which, ugh. And of course it’s framed as harmless. The lengths to which male writers go to frame misogyny as being at worst adorably oafish never ceases to amaze me.
Ned feels terrible about the exchange and writes Homer a cloying apology letter. Watching the Simpsons laugh at it is pretty great, especially when Marge scolds everyone and then runs to the next room to get her own giggles out.
The Homer living vicariously through Bart stuff is so on point. I have a friend who played hockey as a kid, and his father was utterly convinced that he skated like Mario Lemieux. No one skates like Lemieux. Not even Lemieux anymore.
It’s nice to have approval from your parents, but there’s no way being told you’re a perfect snowflake from unicorn land is healthy. My friend lost interest in hockey primarily because of his father sucking all the joy out of it by projecting his own unexamined feelings of inadequacy onto his kid.
Then there’s Lisa’s excellent line, “It’s times like this that I’m thankful Dad has little to no interest in almost everything I do.” The Simpsons is great at scrutinizing excessive behaviour and then pulling an about face in order to scrutinize its opposite extreme.
Also, I hear ya Lisa.
I love the meditation scene where Lisa is trying to get Bart to understand the principles of Taoism. In her frustration with Bart’s literalistic answer to the question, “What is the sound of one hand clapping,” it’s clear that Lisa is further from the Tao than Bart.
The resolution with Homer and Ned mowing their lawns in their wives’ dresses would be problematic, but Ned gets a kick out of it and Homer doesn’t, so we’re laughing at Homer’s uptightness rather than lol dudes in dresses. I appreciate that this episode doesn’t have the cookie cutter “father realizes he screwed up, apologizes, does the same shit next week” ending that sitcoms of this era (including The Simpsons at times) repeat ad nauseum.
It’s not the most cohesive or sophisticated of season two’s episodes, but it’s still amusing. The writers could have used any sport to make their point; they chose not just golf, but mini golf to amplify the absurdity of overbearing sports parents. It’s a point well made.
Best Moment: Bart in crane pose a la Karate Kid.
Best Quote: “Remember what Vince Lombardi said. If you lose, you’re out of the family.” -Homer