WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for The Simpsons Movie
In the 20+ years The Simpsons has been airing on TV, we’ve seen Homer and Marge have marital problems multiple times as early as the first season. It’s since become one of those recurring plot-lines that, nowadays, feels tired and hackneyed. But there’s something about the way this scene from the movie is done that averts that pitfall.
First, a quick bit of context: the family has managed to escape the now domed Springfield and are starting a new life in Alaska. But when they learn that the government secretly plans on destroying their old home, everyone immediately agrees to go back and save it… except Homer. He stubbornly refuses (despite Springfield’s whole situation being his fault to begin with), and storms off to get drunk.
He returns later that evening to find the house empty, with nothing left but a video message from Marge, where she explains that she can no longer overlook all of Homer’s faults and has left him, along with the kids.
Maybe it’s because how there’s not a single moment in this scene (least not until the very end anyway with that “To be continued… right now” gag), where it’s played for laughs. Even though we all know they’ll get back together in the end, there’s a weird, genuine sense of finality to it. Marge isn’t angry; she barely raises her voice throughout. She just sounds exhausted; defeated and, in the end, heartbroken. It’s obvious that this wasn’t an easy decision for her to make.
And as if the scene wasn’t depressing enough, Marge reveals that she taped her message over her and Homer’s wedding video. Cue her final goodbye and the message cutting to what’s left of the wedding video. Oh, and we even hear the song “(They Long To Be) Close To You” playing, which long-time aficionados would recognise as Homer and Marge’s song. No, that’s OK, movie. Please, take my heart and stamp on it; I don’t mind.
The icing on this tear-soaked cake is Homer immediately sobering up and rushing outside, calling for his wife and kids. Even though he kind of deserved it, it’s not until now that he realised how much he messed up. Say what you will but its moments like this that show how much Homer loves/needs his family.
Several early episodes of The Simpsons were able to deliver very emotional moments; ones that have left an impact with many die-hard fans. And, despite coming out long after the show’s glory days, I consider this to be one of those moments.