Would a permanent ban on Homer/Marge marriage crisis episodes help improve the show?

ajsmith1234

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Homer/Marge marriage crisis plots must be the most lazy overused theme in the shows history. At least several episodes per season always seem to fall back on this crutch, and I can’t believe anyone is invested in whether their marriage will survive the latest variation on this trope. Anyone else agree that if the writers were to have a permanent ban on marriage crisis plot lines they might be forced to think out the box more and come up with more original stories?
 

Alura

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it would certainly be appreciated, as there really is absolutely no reason for more of these to exist, but this is far from the only problem new episodes have.
 

CousinMerl

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While the modern marriage crisis episodes are usually the most lambasted (sometimes unfairly since there are those with good and decently done ideas that still get slammed, but sometimes aptly often due to how uninspired and lackluster they can be) I reallly don't see how putting a definite end to them would improve the HD era. Sure, one of the more uninspired "evergreen" plots would be stopped, but there are still other problems with the modern era that need being fixed and improved upon (but probably never will)
 

Trab Pu Kcip

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I would really like them to be banned, that would be appreciated,but the main problem that makes the show bad is not based here, but is in many, many places.
 

Kaine

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I'm incredibly sick and tired of these constant marriage crisis episodes. It always comes down to the same thing, they forgive each other and then its back to where they started in the next episode. There has to be more to their relationship which could be explored if they formed more of a duo in more interesting stories. I kind of liked Natural Born Kissers in that regard which was also taking some risks, and the first act in Co-Dependents' Day is the reason why I don't rate this episode as low as others because Homer and Marge were just having fun together with some funny moments. There are still episodes that do a marriage crisis well but at this point its gotten so overused that it just brings down my enjoyment by a lot whenever it gets to be the central point.
 

sideshow ken

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How about if they would separate for a year? That would be challenging and it would be diffearant because that happens in real life.
 

Dark Homer

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People in a relationship having conflict is like the bedrock of all stories, what an absurd thing to want to ban
 

toushin

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I'm incredibly sick and tired of these constant marriage crisis episodes. It always comes down to the same thing, they forgive each other and then its back to where they started in the next episode. There has to be more to their relationship which could be explored if they formed more of a duo in more interesting stories. I kind of liked Natural Born Kissers in that regard which was also taking some risks, and the first act in Co-Dependents' Day is the reason why I don't rate this episode as low as others because Homer and Marge were just having fun together with some funny moments. There are still episodes that do a marriage crisis well but at this point its gotten so overused that it just brings down my enjoyment by a lot whenever it gets to be the central point.
People are annoyed by the general laziness of this plot which is why it probably would be a good idea if they do ban. you're either annoyed by Homer because what he did is so horrible like in Co-Dependents' Day, but he gets away scott free Marge was mad for like five minutes before forgiving them.

you're annoyed by them both because as stated its the same make up to break up plot that is forgotten about the next episode.

finally you're annoyed with marge. this is the one that makes fans the most angry both because the episode will suddenly become a marriage crisis, meaning that homer hadn't actually done anything to warrant being in trouble. you generally do see the laziness in the writing, but also we see this the most as it's become the regular staple for marge episodes.

however it's not really the plot in of itself but the fact that it always follows the same formula marge being upset at homer.
 

714MatchesFound

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Yes yes, a thousand times yes. Even in the classic era, some executions were kinda dull. Like even though the buildup would be engaging and organic, the resolutions would be very rushed (Bart Gets Hit by a Car, The War of the Simpsons, The Last Temptation of Homer). The times it was done well was Life on the Fast Lane, Colonel Homer, Secrets if a Successful Marriage, Mysterious Voyage of Homer, Natural Born Kissers, and the movie. You still knew they were gonna get back together, but it felt natural and well-paced. Now it never does.
 

Wonderful Duff

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I haven't seen the most recent seasons, but I think retiring some of the more overused plots like this one "Bart gets a girlfriend" and " The Simpsons are going to ___" would really help the show. Assuming the writers can come up with some fresher ideas of course.
 

Smear-Gel

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The last time a marriage crisis episode really annoyed me was Every Man's Dream. They're inherently annoying because of their overuse but the actual plots havent played out in a way that makes them leave a negative impression on me (other than Manger Things). I guess just the feeling that comes from seeing it happen again is worth getting rid of but I dont think we'd be losing much by taking that away other than that feeling.
 

Beggs

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It's not really something you can ban, because it's an obvious source of conflict that a show like The Simpsons should explore. There have been many fine episodes that have done just that. However, they have gone to the well so many times that they're bringing up dirt and sludge off the bottom, so in that regard, I am in favour of them taking a break from what has become an overused plot.

Beyond overuse, the current characterisation doesn't allow marriage crisis plots to resonate the same way they used to. In the classic era, Homer and Marge's marriage was portrayed as a generally (and genuinely) good and healthy one, albeit not immune to conflict and rough patches. This was important as it allowed the episodes to resonate emotionally despite the fact you knew the status quo would be preserved by the end of the tale. Such episodes would use their conflict to demonstrate how a relationship could be affected and tested by various factors - three young kids including a troublemaker, money problems, ennui, feeling underappreciated, etc - but also ably prove that Marge and Homer's marriage was strong enough to overcome those hurdles.

Conversely, later episodes have portrayed their marriage as an unhealthy one that's hanging on by a thread. On top of being far more depressing, it means that maintaining the status quo is unearned. Whatever the problem is, it'll be glossed over in a way that suggests nothing is really fixed and we shouldn't really celebrate this, and the only reason we're at this point is because the show is maintaining the status quo. As a result, there are no emotional stakes, nothing that makes you care and distracts you from the obvious result of the episode's resolution. It's an unearned happy ending that doesn't even feel all that happy given the context.

Marriage crisis plots in the classic era also did a better job of setting up the conflict, whereas post-classic marriage crisis plots have felt contrived. Of course, this could be said of a lot of plots in general when comparing classic and post-classic episodes, but there's a particular quirk to marriage crisis plots. In the classic era, the story flowed into them more organically. Take "Secrets of a Successful Marriage", for example. Homer's inadequacy after he's made to feel stupid leads him to adult education, where he's instead inspired to teach a class to prove he's smarter than people think. An offhand remark leads to him teaching a class on marriage and relationships, and after failing miserably, he inadvertently becomes a hit because the class decides they're more interested in the gossip he's let slip. It strokes his ego, which had been hurt in the opening scenes of the episode, and so he continues to betray Marge's trust by telling the class secrets. The resolution may seem a bit rushed, but it's part of the humour and there's still a sweetness to it. The reconciliation is simple, but it makes sense given the conflict and how it came about.

Moreover, there's a flow to it: a logical path of events that leads to the conflict where someone (usually Homer) is clearly in the wrong, but also sympathetic. Other episodes centred on Marge and Homer's marriage in the classic era have a similar flow, often involving mundane events that nevertheless can prove to be a speed bump in a relationship. They're grounded in down to earth concepts, like feeling neglected on your birthday or embarrassed because your significant other harshly scolded you in public, meeting someone attractive that you have a lot in common with when you're already in a committed relationship, getting drunk and obnoxious at a gathering, and so on. Those stories are set up well from the beginning, have their funny moments along the way (such as Homer's bumbling attempts to reconcile with Marge and Reverend Lovejoy's blunt advice in the aforementioned "Secrets of a Successful Marriage"), both Homer and Marge remain sympathetic and likeable in the conflict, and the resolution is based on the strength of their relationship. The results are strong stories that as I said, resonate emotionally even though you know what the ending is going to be.

Compare this to later episodes that suddenly change gears with an unrelated story turning into (yet another) marriage crisis plot; one that feels shoehorned in as the main conflict in an episode that had a much fresher and more interesting story going on before that. Sure, an episode like "Secrets of a Successful Marriage" may have taken a long walk to get to the marriage conflict, but it was a story that logically progressed to that point with understandable actions and motivations. The worst marriage crisis episodes begin with a story that suddenly takes a left turn into Marge being upset with Homer, followed by an equally contrived resolution that doesn't feel earned. Once again, the fact that their marriage is portrayed as hanging by a thread is a big problem here, as the already shoehorned plot isn't about how a strong marriage overcomes challenges, but how a bad one survives a little longer because it has to for the status quo. It's sloppy, emotionally-deficient writing, and it leads to dismal, repetitive episodes.

When considering the freshness of marriage crisis episodes and the way such a conflict used to be tackled, I'd like to throw an interesting example out there. "The Mysterious Voyage of Homer" is a divisive episode (I personally love it), but it has a really interesting take on a marriage crisis plot. It starts out as you'd expect, with the Chilli Cook-Off inviting Homer to make a fool out of himself and Marge once again. You think it's heading in that direction, but instead Homer keeps his word not to drink, and it's through misunderstanding and gossip that Marge thinks he broke his promise, when in fact Homer going off the deep end is the result of Chief Wiggum's vengeful machinations. Instead of trying to win her back through the rest of the episode, it's Homer who is questioning the relationship, as during his trip, insecurities about his marriage bubble to the surface and he's left wondering if they're really a good match, really soulmates. It's unusually but refreshingly introspective for him, and although Marge isn't unsympathetic in the episode after being led astray by Helen Lovejoy's toxic (and false) gossip, you can understand why Homer is pondering the question. Normal sitcom tropes would portray him as being ridiculous for even considering it, but after a fight where Marge doesn't believe him when he's being truthful and he's not sure she gets him, it's understandable and interesting that Homer - normally portrayed as the "lesser" person in the couple who should be thankful they're with the other person - is the one doing the reflecting. Also, Johnny Cash as the Space Coyote is awesome, and brings levity to the episode.

With all that in mind, I do think the show should avoid marriage crisis plots unless they have a really good story that can portray Marge and Homer's marriage as one that's strong enough to overcome the obstacle, and for that matter, worthy of overcoming that obstacle. Even then, I think they've run the idea into the ground so much that I'd be perfectly fine if they never touched on that plot again, or certainly kept it to a minimum. You can't outright ban it because it's such a fundamental plot device, but if you don't have any good stories to tell with that particular conflict - and frankly, they really haven't in quite a long time - then at the very least, put it on ice for a while.
 
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