Air Date: March 18, 1990
After Homer gets Marge a bowling ball as a gift for her birthday (when she’d never bowled a day in her life…) she starts bowling. In the process she meets a man who tries to seduce her and Marge begins to question her marriage.
I like that Marge is more central in this episode as we haven’t gotten to see too much of her up to this point in the series. I also like that, though Homer definitely should have been less selfish when buying a present for his wife, the rest of the episode shows that the love he has for her is rock solid. Marge starts stacking up his flaws though but in the end she realizes that the love she shares with her husband is just as strong. Does that spoil something? Did anyone really think Marge was going to leave Homer even when this episode came out on television? Anyway, I like that this episode strengthens the relationship between Homer and Marge while also showing a glimpse of just how deeply they cherish each other.
That all said, this episode is kind of boring. I think because they were going for more a Marge-centered episode they were maybe looking to gain some of the “housewife” crowd, something that I don’t think really exists anymore, but the ladies who stayed home all day cleaning and watching soap operas while raising kids while the husbands worked. Y’know, like in Mad Men. Okay, I’m sure they don’t exist anymore…
Anyway, outside of a couple of laughs in the beginning with Homer dropping the bowling ball on Marge’s birthday cake, it then it goes into failed-relationship territory and the episode does start to feel awfully soap-y after that and it doesn’t really come back. I’m fine with the Simpsons trying new things on the whole, if they didn’t we wouldn’t have the yearly Halloween Specials for example, but becoming a Soap Opera for almost a full episode just doesn’t work for this show.
+6: There’s a lot I like that falls in line with the themes of family and love that adheres with the rest of the series, so for the series as a whole this is great, but as an episode by itself it fails after the first five minutes. So this show is good for Simpsons’ canon, but not the best example of what an episode of the Simpsons can be