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Let's Play A Game: Your Best Hypothetical Late-Era Simpsons Synopsis.

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the bart simson show
the bart simson show

"The Simpsons" is weird. Like, really weird. If the development of the show since the Tracy Ullman shorts debuted in 1987 had been planned out from the start, it would be hailed as a masterpiece of postmodern pop literature. Not to say it's actually good--God no. Incredibly, "The Simpsons" has been shit-awful for more than twice as long as it was ever good (seasons one and two are a wash, with a couple exceptions in the second; seasons three to nine are among the Top Five Things Ever On TV; seasons ten through 23--23!--are varying degrees of total garbage).

But taken as a whole, the show is a deeply strange, recursive project that winds back on itself in increasingly convoluted ways. The characters never age, but time still more or less passes to keep up with the outside world. Characters arrive and disappear. Sometimes, someone dies, but you can roll the dice on any given episode as to whether it'll stick: Hans Moleman blowing up, no; Maude Flanders getting killed by Homer's negligence, yes, but Homer's role in her death is just as much a one-off throwaway joke as any Moleman fireball. Major characters' backstories get revised, sometimes in very meaningful ways. Certain momentous events or notable characters are remembered and referred back to throughout the series, while others are forgotten as if they never happened. I could go on and on.

The point is, "The Simpsons" has become an exercise in what happens when you run out of stories to tell. You end up in this existential vision of hell, futilely telling and retelling different versions of the same handful of stories. Which is all just a pompous and highminded way of introducing a fun game. The spine of every "Simpsons" episode from the last 13 seasons or so has been unbearably predictable. You've got to come up with the most plausible late-era "Simpsons" episode synopses. Here we go!

Episode 4F39: Blue-Haired Valentine
Marge finds herself uncontrollably attracted to Craig Lovejoy, the ne'er-do-well mechanic brother of Reverend Lovejoy. Homer grapples with his masculinity as he fights for Marge's affection. Guest star Channing Tatum plays Craig Lovejoy.

Episode 10F14: Lisa's With The Band
Lisa goes to band camp, where playing an instrument is cool, and she struggles with feeling less special. Guest stars One Direction, Rebecca Black, Lady Gaga, Carly Rae Jepsen, Tony Bennett, and Philip Glass play other students at band camp, and then appear as themselves for a special jam session at the end of the episode.

Esisode 8B23: iChristmas Carol
Homer buys Steve Jobs' collection of turtlenecks on eBay and becomes a business and technology guru when he puts one on. But he is visited in his sleep by three ghosts presenting cautionary vignettes--each inspired by a recent blockbuster film--about the dangers of technology. Guest stars Steve Wozniak, Mark Zuckerberg, and Justin Timberlake appear as the ghosts.

Episode 1AF27: The (Really) Expendables
Lisa has to team up with an unlikely set of allies to rescue Bart after he is conscripted by the courier business he worked for in episode 3F17 ("Bart on the Road"). Perpetually down-on-his-luck salesman Gil, the Crazy Cat Lady, the Sea Captain, and Disco Stu all pitch in to help Lisa, each using his or her special talents in surprising ways. Guest star Sidney Poitier plays the head of the sinister courier company, while guest star Donald Rumsfeld plays himself in a waterboarding scene as Bart tries to escape the company's clutches.

Episode 4MAF98: A Tale of Two Wiggums
The backstory of the alternate version of Ralph Wiggum who appeared in episode 8F06 ("Lisa's Pony") saying, "Yes, but what man can tame her?" is fleshed out. We learn that he is in fact Roderick Wiggum, Ralph's genius twin, and that he was instrumental in discovering the Higgs-Boson particle. Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse-Tyson guest stars.

Episode 0AB31: Breaking D'oh
In a raucous "Breaking Bad" parody, Homer finds out he has a chest cold and panics. He decides to start making his own donuts to provide for his family in case his cold takes a turn for the worse. All of Springfield is soon addicted to his secret recipe, and he enlists Bart's help in cooking, which they do in an RV in the backyard. But soon, Springfield's donut magnate, played by special guest star Giancarlo Esposito, catches wind of Homer's business, and things start to heat up.

Episode 6FM88: Kim Jong D'oh

The Simpsons are going to North Korea! Homer finds out that Grampa defected during the Korean War and ended up starring in propaganda films for the late Kim Il-Sung, who bestowed honorary citizenship on him. When Homer learns he is by birth a North Korean citizen, he brings the whole Simpson clan to the Hermit Kingdom to "rediscover their roots." Rapper Drake guest stars.

Episode 5AF83: That '00s Show
In a special flashback episode, we learn that Homer stole the idea for the Snuggie from the uncle of Frank Grimes--thus explaining the younger Grimes' animosity toward him--while in college in the early 2000s. He meets Marge while on tour with his screamo band, and they go on a date to see the premiere of The Hours, where Homer proposes to Marge, to the annoyance of special guest star Nicole Kidman. Later, Marge's old flame Artie Ziff, fresh off making a fortune from a perfectly timed stock shorting, steals the Snuggie prototype from Homer.

Episode 10B67: Bon-Viral of the Vanities
What the fuck? Who are "Cookie Kwan" and Lindsey Naegle" and how have they each been on the show longer than Lionel Hutz and Troy McClure put together? Uh. Homer almost has an affair with them or whatever. Meanwhile, Marge becomes a YouTube sensation after a video of her slapping special guest star Ryan Gosling goes viral.

Episode 9A33: Bored of the Rings
Bart finds out that Homer and Marge are having marital troubles and are considering getting a divorce. The discovery prompts him to run away to New Zealand, where he meets special guest star Kim Dotcom. The family follows shortly, reigniting the flame between Homer and Marge. Homer humorously mistakes Kim Dotcom for Julian Assange and then bumps his head and believes he is in the "Lord of the Rings" films. Only Dr. Nick, whose back story is greatly fleshed out in this jam-packed episode, can restore Homer's sanity. Features guest stars Andy Serkis, Ian McKellan, Elijah Wood, LeBron James, Mitt Romney, Jimmy Carter, Russell Crowe, Henry Kissinger, Kirk Douglas, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, Nick Cannon, Gordon Ramsay, Gordon Brown, David Cameron, Rupert Murdoch, the cast of Step Up Revolution, astronaut Mark Kelly, Damien Hirst, Thomas Friedman, Dave Eggers, and Warren Buffett.