Hungry, Hungry Homer
"Hungry, Hungry Homer" is the fifteenth episode of the twelfth season of The Simpsons. It first aired on the Fox network in the United States on March 4, 2001. In the episode, Homer becomes a Good Samaritan after discovering the simple joys of helping people in need – which is put to the test when he goes on a hunger strike after the owner of the Springfield Isotopes baseball team attempts to discredit him when Homer stumbles on his plot to discreetly move the team to Albuquerque, New Mexico.
|"Hungry, Hungry Homer"|
|The Simpsons episode|
|Episode no.||Season 12|
|Directed by||Nancy Kruse|
|Written by||John Swartzwelder|
|Original air date||March 4, 2001|
Stacy Keach as Howard K. Duff VIII
|Chalkboard gag||"Temptation Island was not a sleazy piece of crap"|
|Couch gag||The Simpsons are black belts in karate. They use their hands to chop up the couch while Homer does an elaborate flip and switches on the TV with his remote.|
The episode was written by John Swartzwelder and directed by Nancy Kruse, and guest starred Stacy Keach as Howard K. Duff VIII. Since airing, it has received generally mixed reviews from television critics.
The Simpson family visits Blockoland, a theme park similar to Legoland which is completely made of blocks. When Lisa finds a piece missing from an Eiffel Tower kit she has bought, Homer persuades the gift shop clerk to give it to her. Energized by the idea of helping people, Homer talks a girl Bart likes into going to a school dance with him, gets a beauty salon owner to put free highlights in Marge's hair, and finds a way for the salon to cut its expenses. He next tries to get Lenny a refund on his season tickets for the Springfield Isotopes baseball team (previously introduced in the season 2 episode "Dancin' Homer"). At the Isotopes' ballpark, Homer encounters team owner Howard K. Duff VIII, who refuses to grant a refund. In his haste to leave, Homer discovers a room filled with merchandise for the "Albuquerque Isotopes" and realizes that Howard is planning to move the team. Howard denies the idea, then has Duffman drug Homer and dump him at the Simpsons' house to cover up the truth.
Homer attempts to warn the media of Howard's plan, but by the time he can lead reporters to the ballpark, Howard has removed all evidence of it. Angered by their dismissal of his claim, Homer stages a hunger strike, chaining himself to a pole in the parking lot and refusing to leave or eat until Howard admits the truth. After Homer begins to attract public attention, the team secretly moves him into the ballpark one night and dubs him "Hungry, Hungry Homer" as a publicity stunt. They claim publicly that Homer will not eat until the Isotopes win the pennant, covering up his real message. As his health declines and he begins rapidly losing weight, he nearly gives in while seeing fans eat at the ballpark. However, a visit by the ghost of Cesar Chavez (who assumes the appearance of Cesar Romero, since Homer does not know what Chavez looks like) inspires him to stand his ground.
Thinking that Homer has gone insane and that his popularity is waning, Howard unchains him and offers him a hot dog in a public ceremony during an Isotopes game. As Homer is about to eat it, he realizes that it is loaded with Southwestern-style toppings and angrily denounces Howard. Inspecting their own hot dogs, the fans discover their wrappers marked with the "Albuquerque Isotopes" team name and realize that Homer was right. The crowd boos Howard, and Duffman turns against him and throws him bodily off the field. Homer earns a round of cheers from the crowd and ends his hunger strike, eagerly devouring the food they throw to him. The mayor of Albuquerque abandons his plan to steal the Isotopes from Springfield and decides to turn his attention to purchasing the Dallas Cowboys, with the intent of forcing them to play baseball instead of football.
The episode was written by John Swartzwelder and directed by Nancy Kruse. The episode was originally pitched by Al Jean from his daughter, although it is not certain. The origin of the episode is that Mike Scully in season 8 pitched an episode where Homer gets a motorcycle, however the town passes a helmet law that requires riders to wear a helmet, leading Homer to go on a hunger strike in protest. The writers shelved the idea of Homer having a motorcycle (though it would be used for the season 11 episode "Take My Wife, Sleaze"), but held on to Homer having a hunger strike until Al Jean pitched this episode. Another inspiration was that a team was moving to another city. Dan Castellaneta adlibbed the lyrics to Homer's "Dancing Away My Hunger Pains" song. The ending scene with the mayor announcing his plans to take over the Dallas Cowboys has been edited from all U.S. syndicated reruns, but has been seen on overseas syndicated reruns and on the season 12 DVD set.
The title of the episode is a reference to the Hasbro tabletop game Hungry Hungry Hippos.
After being drugged, Homer wakes up lying on top of a dog house, similar to the way Snoopy lays on his dog house in the Peanuts comic strip. (Bart even says "Good Grief!" in another reference to the strip.) Later, when Homer returns to the Duff Stadium and finds the private room empty, a man plays "wah-wah" on a muted trumpet, again a reference to Peanuts.
When tied to the flagpole, Lisa gives Homer a book to read called "My Core Beliefs" by Mike Farrell. Homer flips through it and says "Man, he really hates Wayne Rogers." This is in reference to the named actors' characters on the TV show M*A*S*H, in which Farrell's character BJ Hunnicutt replaced Rogers' character Trapper John McIntyre.
Colin Jacobson of DVD Movie guide gave the episode a mixed review writing "Though it has something of a rehashed feel – an impression that we’ve seen this episode before – “Hungry” still manages to be fairly effective. Chock full of laughs? No, but the show has its moments. Or maybe I just like it because it’s the origin of the word “hungy”, which I used for many years. I forgot I stole it from this episode!" Judge Mac McEntire of DVD Verdict said of the episode that the best moment was pretty much any scene with Duffman.
This episode has also been credited for popularizing the word "meh", which later entered the Collins English Dictionary. The word is an interjection expressing boredom or indifference, and an adjective describing something boring or mediocre. The word, which has its root in Yiddish, is expressly spelled out in the episode:
- Homer: Kids, how would you like to go to ... Blockoland!
- Bart and Lisa: Meh.
- Homer: But the TV gave me the impression that --
- Bart: We said, "Meh!"
- Lisa: M-e-h, meh.
The word had been used on several previous occasions on the show, the first such usage being in the season six episode "Sideshow Bob Roberts" in 1994. In that episode, Lisa is given the town's voting record for the mayoral election; in response to her question that she "thought this was a secret ballot," the official responds "meh". John Swartzwelder, the writer of "Hungry, Hungry Homer" has stated that he "originally heard the word from an advertising writer named Howie Krakow back in 1970 or 1971 who insisted it was the funniest word in the world."
- Scully, Mike (2009). The Simpsons The Complete Twelfth Season DVD commentary for the episode "Hungry, Hungry Homer" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Selman, Matt (2009). The Simpsons The Complete Twelfth Season DVD commentary for the episode "Hungry, Hungry Homer" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Simpsons Season 12 DVD, Commentary "Hungry, Hungry Homer".
- Payne, Don (2009). The Simpsons The Complete Twelfth Season DVD commentary for the episode "Hungry, Hungry Homer" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
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- "U.S. Primetime TV Ratings For The Week Of February 26 – March 4, 2001".
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-11-03. Retrieved 2010-08-30.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- "Doh! Go Isotopes!". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Hearst Corporation. 13 May 2003. p. C8.
- "'Meh': new word for indifference enters English dictionary".
- Zimmer, Ben (2012-02-26). "The 'meh' generation". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on 2012-07-09. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
- Hann, Michael (2007-03-05). "Meh — the word that's sweeping the internet". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-10-14.
- Boswell, Randy (2008-11-18). "Canadian politics: The definition of 'meh'". Vancouver Sun. Canwest News Service. Archived from the original on 2008-12-06. Retrieved 2008-11-21.
- Macintyre, Ben (2007-08-11). "Last word: Any word that embiggens the vocabulary is cromulent with me". The Times. London.