"King-Size Homer" is the seventh episode of The Simpsons' seventh season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on November 5, 1995. In the episode, Homer despises the nuclear plant's new exercise program, and decides to gain 61 pounds (28 kg) in order to claim a disability and work at home.
|The Simpsons episode|
The now obese Homer operates his computer from the couch with a broom
|Episode no.||Season 7|
|Directed by||Jim Reardon|
|Written by||Dan Greaney|
|Original air date||November 5, 1995|
Dr. Joan Kenley as the telephone lady
|Chalkboard gag||"Indian burns are not our cultural heritage".|
|Couch gag||The Simpsons are five malfunctioning wind-up dolls who waddle their way to the couch.|
The episode was written by Dan Greaney and directed by Jim Reardon. Joan Kenley makes her second of three guest appearances on The Simpsons in the episode as the voice of the telephone lady. It features cultural references to the world's heaviest twins, the 1993 film What's Eating Gilbert Grape, and the soft drink Tab.
Since airing, the episode has received positive reviews from fans and television critics, and Empire named it the best episode of the series. It acquired a Nielsen rating of 10.0, and was the third highest rated show on the Fox network that week.
Mr. Burns organizes a morning calisthenics program at the nuclear power plant, to the dismay of Homer. After learning that an employee who is disabled can work from home through worker's compensation, Homer unsuccessfully tries to injure himself. Upon learning that employees who weigh 300 pounds (136 kg) or more qualify as disabled, he begins eating excessively, despite Marge and Lisa's repeated warnings that he is endangering his health. With Bart and Dr Nick's help, Homer gains the 61 pounds (28 kg) needed to reach 300 and Mr. Burns installs a stay-at-home work terminal in the Simpson house. Marge is forced to admit that she is finding herself less attracted to Homer because of his increased weight, but he vows to show her he can be a better worker because of it.
Although Homer proves to be competent at his job, he soon begins to tire of his monotonous responsibilities as a safety inspector and simply resorts to typing "yes" every time the system prompts him. Looking for shortcuts, he leaves his terminal with a drinking bird to press the Y key to indicate "yes" on the keyboard and goes to the cinema. After being denied admission due to his weight, Homer returns to find that his bird has fallen over and a nuclear meltdown is imminent unless the system is manually shut down.
Unsuccessful at calling the plant as his fingers have grown too fat to dial a telephone and finding himself too heavy to drive or skateboard, Homer has to resort to hitchhiking. Hijacking an ice cream truck, Homer arrives at the power plant during a workout program and reaches the shutdown button, but falls onto the gas storage tank, blocking the release tube with the oversized lower half of his body, thus preventing an explosion. Grateful, Mr. Burns gives Homer a medal for bravery and offers him any request he needs. Homer looks at Marge and after realising how difficult his obesity has made life for his family, asks for Burns to make him thin again. He agrees but after a failed attempt at calisthenics, Burns decides to pay for him to undergo liposuction much to Homer’s delight.
"King-Size Homer" was written by Dan Greaney, and directed by Jim Reardon. It was the first episode Greaney wrote for The Simpsons. Prior to this episode he was working as a lawyer and was contemplating moving to Ukraine to work for a start-up company. He said that this episode "saved" him from doing so. Greaney pitched some ideas to the writing staff, but none of them were satisfactory, so then-show runner Bill Oakley gave him the idea for this episode. Oakley had Greaney come to Hollywood to write it, and when Greaney showed the first draft to the staff, they liked it, so Oakley hired him.
The writers wanted the title of the episode to make Homer sound proud about his weight, so they decided to name it "King-Size Homer". Greaney really enjoyed working on the episode because Homer is constantly happy and goal oriented in it, instead of being a slob who is "eating all the time". Animator David Silverman designed the obese Homer for the episode. There was a discussion about what Homer would wear when he became fat, and they decided to go with a muumuu. The writers were also discussing about how they were going to treat Homer's obesity. They did not want Homer to come off as a "hog", so they decided that the viewer should barely see him eating after he reaches his 300 pounds goal. As the writers were trying to figure out a way to get Homer back to his old weight by the end of the episode, it was suggested that Homer should feel bad about his obesity, and therefore become thin for Marge, but that idea was scrapped in early production. Action figurines based on obese Homer were made for the World of Springfield in December 2001.
Homer has a dream in which he is standing at the foot of a mountain with 300 pounds as the goal at the top. A pig wearing a tuxedo appears next to him in the dream, and motivates Homer to reach the top of the mountain. This scene was inspired by the cover of the "Sweetness and Light" issue of National Lampoon magazine. The staff thought that Cary Grant would have been ideal for the pig in Homer's dream sequence, but he died nine years before the episode was made, so they used cast member Hank Azaria for that voice. Joan Kenley guest starred in the episode as the telephone lady. The staff flew her down from Northern California to record her part for the episode.
While Homer is in the clothes store, two mannequins wearing similar outfits and riding on bikes are shown. These are based on Billy and Benny McCrary, the world's heaviest twins who weighed over 700 pounds (318 kg) each. They received fame after appearing in The Guinness Book of World Records in a picture that depicts the twins riding their Honda motorcycles. They would appear again in the same season in the episode "The Day the Violence Died". The scene in which Bart and his friends observe the obese Homer through a window is based on a scene from the 1993 film What's Eating Gilbert Grape.
Homer thinks that he can order the soft drink Tab by pressing the tab key on the keyboard, and becomes anxious when he can't find the "any key". When Homer vents gas from a nuclear reactor, the gas destroys crops of corn. A farmer says, "Oh no, the corn! Paul Newman's gonna have ma' legs broke!". This is in reference to the legend of Newman's Own popcorn products, in which Newman threatened anyone who might attempt to steal his popcorn. At the cinema, Homer tries to watch the film Honk If You're Horny, starring actor Pauly Shore and actress Faye Dunaway. When Mr. Burns awards Homer a medal at the end of the episode, he praises him for "turning a potential Chernobyl into a mere Three Mile Island," referencing the real-life nuclear disasters that occurred at those locations.
In its original broadcast, "King-Size Homer" finished 45th (tied with Grace Under Fire) in the ratings for the week of October 30 to November 3, 1995, with a Nielsen rating of 10.0. The episode was the third highest rated show on the Fox network that week.
Since airing, the episode has received mostly positive reviews from fans and television critics, making many top episode lists. In 2008, Empire placed The Simpsons at the top of their list of "The 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time", and noted "King-Size Homer" as the show's best episode, calling it "An unimprovable mix of sharp dialogue, hilarious sight gags and heart." Kimberly Potts of AOL Television named the episode the seventh best episode of the series, while Michael Moran of The Times ranked it as the tenth best. "King-Size Homer" appeared on The Star-Ledger's list of the ten best episodes on The Simpsons that represent the comic and emotional scope of the show. The Herald Sun put the episode at ninth place on their list of the top twenty episodes of The Simpsons, and highlighted the scene in which Homer is seen "commandeering an ice cream truck in a frantic dash to the nuclear plant to avoid an impending meltdown". Emily VanDerWerff of Slant Magazine named the episode the show's fifth best, stating "while there are a lot of funny jokes in this episode (including Homer's fingers that are too fat to dial), the best thing about it is the sight of Homer, weighing well over 300 pounds, dressed in a muumuu and a 'fat guy hat.' The climax is a little forced and cartoon-y...but Homer's weight gain works so well visually that the episode gets away with a lot more than it might."
Dave Foster of DVD Times said: "The glee to which [Homer] takes to the challenge and the enthusiasm which Bart brings to the project show these two really do connect when the situation is oh so wrong, and the method in which the writers tackle the not-always-so-obvious downsides to such a disability are both adult and astutely amusing." Jennifer Malkowski of DVD Verdict considered the best part of the episode to be during Homer's shopping trip to The Vast Waistband. The website concluded its review by giving the episode a grade of A. DVD Movie Guide's Colin Jacobson enjoyed the episode and called it "one of the series' more cynical episodes", and said that it "pours on the laughs". He continued by saying, "It's amusing to see Homer's pursuit of obesity, and it exploits his idiocy well. It lacks the expected mushiness about the plight of fat folks, though it does make a point about sensitivity in an understated way." Despite the numerous laughs at Homer's appearance from the staff of The Simpsons on the DVD audio commentary for the episode, the authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, wrote: "this isn't one of the best episodes. Homer's at his most irritating and childish here—you really want Marge to beat him up." They added that Homer's antics with the computer, such as the scene in which he tries to find the any key, and Mr. Burns running exercise classes are the highlights of the episode. Screen Rant called it the best episode of the seventh season and the sixth greatest episode of The Simpsons. When The Simpsons began streaming on Disney+ in 2019, former Simpsons writer and executive producer Bill Oakley named this one of the best classic Simpsons episodes to watch on the service.
- Groening, Matt (1997). Richmond, Ray; Coffman, Antonia (eds.). The Simpsons: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family (1st ed.). New York: HarperPerennial. p. 228. ISBN 978-0-06-095252-5. LCCN 98141857. OCLC 37796735. OL 433519M..
- Greaney, Dan (2005). The Simpsons season 7 DVD commentary for the episode "King-Size Homer" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Oakley, Bill (2005). The Simpsons season 7 DVD commentary for the episode "King-Size Homer" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Silverman, David (2005). The Simpsons season 7 DVD commentary for the episode "King-Size Homer" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Groening, Matt (2005). The Simpsons season 7 DVD commentary for the episode "King-Size Homer" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Reardon, Jim (2005). The Simpsons season 7 DVD commentary for the episode "King-Size Homer" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian (2000). "King-Size Homer". BBC. Retrieved 2007-03-06.
- Moore, Frazier (November 10, 1995). "CBS Tops In Weekend Ratings Race". Rocky Mountain News. p. 44D. Retrieved on December 6, 2008.
- "The 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time". Empire. Retrieved 2008-03-29.
- Potts, Kimberly. "'The Simpsons' Best Episodes Ever". AOL Television. Retrieved 2008-12-06.
- Moran, Michael (January 14, 2010). "The 10 best Simpsons episodes ever". The Times. Retrieved 2010-01-14.
- Sepinwall, Alan (April 26, 1998). "The best of "The Simpsons" doing their worst". The Star-Ledger. p. 5.
- "The Simpsons Top 20". Herald Sun. April 21, 2007. p. W09.
- VanDerWerff, Emily (2007-08-01). "5 for the Day: The Simpsons". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 2011-09-08.
- Foster, Dave (2006-02-25). "The Simpsons: The Complete Seventh Season". DVD Times. Retrieved 2008-12-01.
- Malkowski, Judge (2006-01-16). "The Simpsons: The Complete Seventh Season". DVD Verdict. Archived from the original on 2008-12-04. Retrieved 2008-12-01.
- Jacobson, Colin (2006-01-05). "The Simpsons: The Complete Seventh Season (1995)". DVD Movie Guide. Retrieved 2008-12-01.
- Sim, Bernardo (2019-09-22). "The Simpsons: The Best Episode In Every Season, Ranked". Screen Rant. Retrieved 2019-09-22.
- Katz, Mathew (2019-11-11). "The best classic Simpsons episodes on Disney+". Digital Trends.
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