Homer's Enemy (The Simpsons)
Homer's Enemy is the twenty-third episode in the eighth season of the American animated television series The Simpsons. It first aired on the FOX network in the United States on May 4, 1997.
Industrious Frank Grimes starts working at the plant and becomes irritated by Homer's laziness; meanwhile, Bart buys a run-down factory for one dollar.
Why It Rocks
- The animation is high quality, as usual.
- Funny and unique couch gag.
- The episode was written by John Swartzwelder, one of the most talented writers of The Simpsons.
- Hilarious and dark humor, such as Frank accidentally killing himself whilst imitating Homer Simpson.
- The side-plot of Bart buying an abandoned warehouse for a dollar is endearing and entertaining.
- The moment when Homer gets sad over the fact that he now has an enemy is a little bit emotional.
- Funny gags throughout the episode, such as Chief Wiggum saying "Ralphie! Get off the stage, sweetheart!" in the contest and Homer talking in his sleep at Frank's funeral.
- The episode tries to tackle the topic of leading a lazy life while being successful by using Homer as the focus. However, in any other episode, Homer's life is actually portrayed almost as bad as Frank's growing up, and the episode just simply shines light on Homer's past accomplishments while leaving the negative part of his life to make Frank's life look terrible and Homer's look perfect by comparison.
- While Frank Grimes' hardworking competence is noble at first, he comes off as very unlikable and fails to represent what would it be like if a real average person was in the Simpsons universe.
- Despite being intended to come off as a real average person, his exaggerated and unrealistically miserable life is not what an average real person has, and his bitter and jaded personality is also not average.
- He was also intended to represent a real person trying (and failing) to put up with Homer's extreme idiocy. However, the way Frank reacts to it before having a mental breakdown is practically no different from everyone else who's had to deal with Homer's idiocy.
- Even though his miserable life gives him some sympathy, his mean-spirited attitude towards Homer makes him lose all of it since his reasons for his behavior were trivial and petty, especially since Homer was attempting to makes amends with him - only for Frank to refuse and attempt to humiliate Homer out of spite. If not for the scene where Frank prevents Homer from accidentally killing himself by drinking acid, and Homer not only fails to thank Frank but rats him out to Mr. Burns for burning a hole in a wall when he knocked the acid away (resulting in Frank getting a demotion and pay cut), then Frank would unquestionably be the villain of the episode.
- The part where Frank electrocutes himself to death may be too dark for some people.
- The character of Frank Grimes was a synthesis of actors William H. Macy and Michael Douglas.
- Matt Groening commented that the story also has a 'Zen' quality to it. Homer is just himself and gets along fine. Frank Grimes is an Type-A personality who wants everything to be perfect, and subsequently falls apart. Thus, Homer is the stronger person, despite his obvious faults.
- Lisa only says 11 words in this episode.
- The fact that Frank Grimes comes across as very normal in his behavior and especially his increasingly angry and unhinged reactions to Homer's actions is not an accident. The show always intended Grimes to be a "one-shot" character who would show what would happen if a regular human from the real world found himself in The Simpsons universe, with the idea of showing that such a person would not be able to handle it (which is why Frank ultimately goes insane and accidentally kills himself).
- Frank Grimes's appearance (particularly his short-sleeve shirt with tie and his glasses) was modeled after the character William 'D-Fens' Foster, played by Michael Douglas in Falling Down (1993), which also starred Robert Duvall, who played Lieutenant Frank Grimes of the Chicago Police Department in John Q (2002)
- Steve Martin was originally asked to voice Frank Grimes, but he declined to do so. William H. Macy was also considered for the voice, as the design of the character was strongly influenced by him. Eventually, the producers gave the role to series regular Hank Azaria who gave a screen test that convinced them enough to allow him to voice the character
- Matt Groening and Josh Weinstein have both named this episode as one of their all-time favorites, though Mike Reiss disliked it.
The episode was generally well-received by both critics and audiences alike. It was one of the highest-rated episodes of the entire series, and some Simpsons fans referred to it as the best episode of the season, if not the entire show.