O Brother, Where Bart Thou?
"O Brother, Where Bart Thou?" is the eighth episode of The Simpsons' 21st season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on December 13, 2009. In this episode, Bart goes on a quest to get a baby brother out of jealousy of the sisterly bond Lisa has with Maggie.
|"O Brother, Where Bart Thou?"|
|The Simpsons episode|
|Episode no.||Season 21|
|Directed by||Steven Dean Moore|
|Written by||Matt Selman|
|Original air date||December 13, 2009|
|Couch gag||The living room furniture is dancing to disco music until the Simpsons come in and Homer yells, "Hey!" The furniture returns to normal and the Simpsons sit on the couch without incident.|
The entire Simpson family stays at home during a blizzard. The weather's too wild to play outside and the power goes out, so Bart participates in a pretend fashion show put on by his sisters, Lisa and Maggie. When he notices the bond shared by the two girls, Lisa suggests that he's jealous because he does not have a brother to share a similar bond with. That night, Bart dreams about being in a park (called Bro-Town USA) with the Smothers Brothers, the Marx Brothers, the Blues Brothers, the Smith Brothers, the Wright Brothers, the Mario Brothers, the Mannings (Cooper, Eli and Peyton), and even the Terwiliger brothers, (Sideshow Bob and Cecil). Bart awakens with the realization that he actually wants a brother.
After getting turned down by Homer (who gives a lengthy monologue detailing why he feels daughters are better than sons), Bart consults with his friends at the bus stop. Nelson advises Bart to trick Marge and Homer into having a baby the same way Nelson's mom tried tricking former basketball player Charles Barkley. Bart's first attempt is to make them a romantic dinner, but Marge and Homer are too stuffed to feel amorous. In his second attempt, Bart leaves a kama sutra DVD in his parents' bedroom, but the two end up injuring themselves after emulating the sex positions. Frustrated, he seeks the advice of Dolph, Jimbo, and Kearney, who tell him to hide Marge's birth control pills. Bart replaces Marge's birth control pills with Tic Tacs (just as he did with Mrs. Krabappel's in "Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie") and discards the Tic Tacs container that now has the birth control pills inside, which Nelson finds and eats (giving the bully mood swings due to the estrogen ingestion). Marge catches Bart tampering with her pills and he confesses that he wants a brother. While sympathetic to her son, Marge explains that she and Homer are fine with just three kids—she also notes that even if she and Homer do ever end up having a fourth child, the baby very well could end up being another girl instead of boy, resulting in Bart having three sisters. Bart goes to a local orphanage and tries adopting a child, but is ultimately turned away for being too young. However, a young boy named Charlie follows Bart home and Bart takes him in as his younger brother.
Bart and Charlie do brotherly things together, including playing pranks on Principal Skinner and hanging out at the Kwik-E-Mart. When Lisa insists that Charlie be returned to the orphanage, Bart disregards her and takes Charlie to see a horror movie titled Sever V. The movie terrifies Charlie, which makes Bart realize that being an older brother requires responsibility. On their way back from the movie, Chief Wiggum tries to apprehend Charlie, but the two boys escape and hide in a snowbank. Back in the snowbank, Lisa pleads with Bart to do the right thing and let Charlie be legally adopted by another family. When the children are sealed in by a snowplow (by Barney riding on his Plow King truck), Bart and Charlie urinate on the snow to melt it and open an escape tunnel, much to Lisa's disgust. After taking Charlie back to the orphanage, he's eventually adopted by a family with six daughters, and, much to Charlie's dismay, all six of his new sisters treat him like their personal fashion doll. To cheer Bart up, Homer takes him to see Sever V.
The Smothers Brothers (Tom and Dick), Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Cooper Manning and Huell Howser all guest starred as themselves in this episode. Jordan Nagai appeared as Charlie, who pretended to be Bart's brother, while Kim Cattrall made her second Simpsons appearance, voicing Bart's imaginary third sister. Showrunner Al Jean said having the Smothers Brothers, who sing over the end credits, on the show was "a dream come true". The three Mannings recorded their parts in New Orleans under the supervision of The Simpsons writer Tim Long. Jean said the staff liked Peyton's work on Saturday Night Live, "and Cooper is really funny, too. They were really good [in the episode]." Cooper commented on recording the episode: "It took 20 minutes tops. I did enjoy the experience. [...] You can screw up as much as you want. You just do your lines over and over for a couple of takes, then throw some fake laughs in there. All three of us doing it at the same time on three different microphones. Yeah, I thought it was a lot of fun." Nagai, who starred in the animated film Up, recorded his dialogue alongside Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart. To date, he is the youngest guest star the show has had, being 9 years old at the time. John Frink was promoted to executive producer in this episode.
Bart's dream of famous brothers include Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Cooper Manning, the Smothers Brothers, Jake and Elwood Blues from The Blues Brothers, the Wright Brothers, The Marx Brothers, the Smith Brothers, and Nintendo's Mario Brothers. Lisa imaging having a second sister is a parody of Sex and the City, The episode title references The Simpsons season 2 episode Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?. The Movie Bart and Charlie see is a parody of The Saw (franchise).
The episode was viewed by 7.11 million people with a Nielsen Rating of 3.2/8 and came in second on the Animation Domination lineup slightly behind Family Guy'. The Simpsons was the third most viewed episode on Fox, after Family Guy and Bones. The episode was 3rd ranked on Fox in the 18-49 rating after Family Guy and Glee and made it at 21 in all. IGN's Robert Canning gave the episode a 7.6/10, saying "The episode did well by sticking to one main story instead of adding a weaker "B" storyline to fill the half hour." The A.V. Club gave the episode a B+ calling it "another fine outing".
Matt Selman was nominated for a Writers Guild of America Award for Outstanding Writing in Animation at the 63rd Writers Guild of America Awards for his script to this episode.
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