Review: The Simpsons - Rednecks and Broomsticks
by Jason Hughes, posted Nov 30th 2009 11:16AM
(S21E07) Poor Wiccans, they're so misunderstood. And the three girls representing them weren't really representing Wicca so much as they were representing wayward teens looking for something to latch onto. That, and they probably think their own perceptions of Wicca make it out to be pretty "kewl."
Struggling for something to latch onto in a world that doesn't seem to understand you not only describes virtually every teenager in existence, but Lisa Simpson as well. A sweet intellect in a family of average to well-below-average intellects, Lisa has never fit in at home or at school. So, as long as she can be fairly certain that there's no actual witchcraft going on -- because that would be too scary -- she's in.
The rest of the episode dealt with Homer becoming a moonshine expert among Cletus and his hillbilly friends. Which meant that The Simpsons could pull out all the jokes about rednecks and hillbillies they could think of. As a Midwesterner, I'd be insulted by such stereotypes ... except that there really are people like that.
The problem comes in perpetuating a stereotype that everyone who lives outside of a city is backwards, uneducated and vigilante in their stance on "the law." That said, the bear jamboree band cracked my ass up. I was expecting the band from Chuck E. Cheese's to be hooked up over there, but it being real bears tied up was so much better.
The writers did a nice job of tying the two stories together with the town's blindness being blamed on the Wiccans. Can we even really call them that, though? Pretentious kids trying to be cool by pretending they understand Wicca. Yeah, that feels better. I enjoyed the whole Salem witch trial tone of it, including the ridiculous witchcraft testing contraption. I'm with Homer on that one; it looks like a fun ride.
In the end, of course everyone came out alright and pleased that it was the moonshine that temporarily blinded them and not the witchery of three otherwise nondescript teenage girls. All Lisa wanted to do was find somewhere to fit in, which is all she's wanted for 21 years now.
After years of not watching The Simpsons, I think I'm getting into the rhythm of the slightly modified tone of the show. There's a little bit more nonsense, and a few more random gags and cutaways (I'm sure we have Family Guy to thank for that), but there are also those moments that remind me of the show I used to devour every week when I was younger. This week it was in the forlorn and ultimately doomed journey of Lisa toward acceptance in a group she barely understood, but felt wanted by.
And another appearance by the classic three-eyed fish. Thank goodness that stick was drifting by so it could have a cane for its sudden blindness. I'd hate to lose that little guy after all these years.
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