There's No Disgrace Like Home

"There's No Disgrace Like Home" is the fourth episode of The Simpsons' first season. It first aired on the Fox network in the United States on January 28, 1990.[2] In the episode, Homer becomes ashamed of his family after a catastrophic company picnic and decides to enroll them in therapy. The therapist, Dr. Marvin Monroe, struggles to solve their problems − culminating in a shock therapy-based showdown between the family members − before eventually giving up and refunding their payment.

"There's No Disgrace Like Home"
The Simpsons episode
Episode no.Season 1
Episode 4
Directed byGregg Vanzo
Kent Butterworth
Written byAl Jean
Mike Reiss
Production code7G04
Original air dateJanuary 28, 1990 (1990-01-28)
Episode features
Chalkboard gag"I will not burp in class."[1]
Couch gagThe family hurries on to the couch. Homer is squeezed off it and says, "D'oh!"[2]
CommentaryMatt Groening
Al Jean
Mike Reiss
Episode chronology
← Previous
"Homer's Odyssey"
Next →
"Bart the General"
The Simpsons (season 1)
List of The Simpsons episodes

One of the first-produced episodes of the season, it is known for showcasing early designs and different characterizations for several members of the show's cast. The episode is inspired by the comedy of Laurel and Hardy and features cultural references to films such as Citizen Kane and Freaks as well as the Batman and Twilight Zone television series. In November 1996, The BBC chose it as the first episode to be aired, when they started showing the series, later being beat in the ratings by Sabrina.[2]


Homer takes his family to a company picnic organized by his boss, Mr. Burns, and hopes they will not embarrass him. After Bart, Lisa and Marge all misbehave, Homer is embarrassed by their behavior. Later on, he notices that Burns is drawn to a "normal" family who treat one another with respect, and Homer shows his blatant disgust for his own family. He wonders why he is cursed with a troubled family who misbehave and disrespect everyone, especially after the man from the other family admits he pities Homer.

Determined to improve his family's behavior, Homer attempts to get them to sit at the table properly, which goes awry as the family prefers to eat while watching TV. When Marge, Bart and Lisa claim there's nothing wrong with them, he decides to prove there is something wrong. He takes them on a tour of the neighborhood, peeking through living room windows to observe how happy families spend time together. The rest of the Simpsons are unnerved by Homer's sudden rash behavior along with unnecessarily spying on their neighbors and retreat quickly back to the safety of their own home. Depressed by the outing, he stops by Moe's Tavern for a drink. After getting into a small fight with Barney, Homer later sees a commercial for Dr. Marvin Monroe's Family Therapy Center. Dr. Monroe guarantees "family bliss or double your money back." This gives Homer an idea to improve his family's behavior.

Homer makes an appointment at the clinic and pawns the family television in order to afford the $250 fee, to the others' frustration. In the waiting room, Homer silences their claims that nothing is wrong with the family before Dr. Monroe calls them in. He first asks them to draw a picture of the source of their problems; Bart, Lisa, and Marge all draw Homer, while Homer becomes distracted and draws an airplane in flight. When Homer becomes angry and tries to attack with a lamp, Dr. Monroe gives them a set of padded mallets with which to work out their aggression on each other. The exercise fails as Bart pulls the padding off his mallet and hits Dr. Monroe in the knee with the handle. Dr. Monroe finally resorts to aversion therapy, wiring the family members to an electric generator so they can deliver shocks to one another. The Simpsons shock each other so many times, the generator is damaged, the other patients flee the building and the entire city suffers a brownout, much to Mr. Burns' satisfaction as the increasing use of energy means more money for the power plant. Unable to help, Dr. Monroe gives up and orders the family to leave, but Homer refuses to leave without refunds and reminds Dr. Monroe about what his TV commercial said. Dr. Monroe pays Homer $500 to keep him from telling anyone that he and his family came to the clinic. With a fresh sense of unity, the Simpsons decide to use the money to replace their television.


The episode shows telltale signs of being one of the earliest produced.[3][4] Several of the characters notably behave differently compared to the episodes surrounding it: akin to her portrayal in the Tracey Ullman Show shorts, Lisa is an undisciplined brat indistinguishable from Bart, Marge gets drunk and is inattentive, and Homer is the voice of reason. These roles were reversed in later episodes.[5] It was an early episode for Mr. Burns, who had been voiced by Christopher Collins in the previous episode. Originally, the character was influenced by Ronald Reagan, a concept that was later dropped. The idea that he would greet his employees using index cards was inspired by the way Reagan greeted people.[5] The episode marks the first time Burns refers to "releasing the hounds".[3]

The episode marked the first appearance of Dr. Marvin Monroe and Itchy & Scratchy; the latter had previously appeared in the shorts. It also marked the first appearance of yellow Smithers, who was drawn as an African-American in the previous episode.[2][3] Eddie and Lou also appeared for the first time, although Lou was mistakenly animated with yellow instead of black, as he would later become. Lou was named after Lou Whitaker, a Major League Baseball player.[3]

The idea behind the shock therapy scene was based on Laurel and Hardy throwing pies at each other.[4] The scene was rearranged in the editing room; it played out differently when first produced. The edits to this scene were preliminary, but well-received, and remained unchanged in the finished product.[4]

The episode's title is a parody of the famous phrase "There's no place like Home" from "Home! Sweet Home!", an 1823 song by Henry Bishop and John Howard Payne. The scene in which the family enters Burns' Manor contains two cultural references. The Manor resembles Charles Foster Kane's mansion from the 1941 film Citizen Kane.[2] The characters refer to it as "stately Burns Manor", a reference to the Batman TV series.[3] In addition, there is a reference to Freaks, the Tod Browning cult horror film, in the repetition of the line "one of us".[4]

While drunk at Mr. Burns' picnic, Marge sings a version of the song "Hey, Brother, Pour the Wine" which was popularised by Dean Martin.[3] The shock therapy scene is reminiscent of the 1971 film A Clockwork Orange,[1] and is known for its brief appearance in the 1990 action film Die Hard 2.[3]


In its original broadcast, "There's No Disgrace Like Home" finished forty-fifth in ratings for the week of January 22–28, 1990, with a Nielsen rating of 11.2, equivalent to approximately 10.3 million viewing households. It was the second highest-rated show on Fox that week, following Married... with Children.[6]

Since airing, the episode has received mixed reviews from television critics. The authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, note: "It's very strange to see Homer pawning the TV set in an attempt to save the family; if this episode had come later Marge would surely have taken this stance."[2]

They continue, "A neat swipe at family counseling with some great set pieces; we're especially fond of the perfect version of the Simpsons and the electric-shock aversion therapy."[2]

Colin Jacobson at DVD Movie Guide said in a review that the episode is "[his] least favorite episode of Season One" and further commented: "Homer feels embarrassed by the others? Marge acts poorly in public and doesn't care about the upkeep of the family? Lisa (Yeardley Smith) engages in pranks and silliness? This ain't the family we've grown to know and love."[7]

This episode was one of the first seen by British viewers.[2] It was the first episode to be broadcast on terrestrial television by the BBC on November 23, 1996 on a Saturday at 5:30pm, because the episodes were shown out of order. The episode was screened with five million viewers, slightly less than the show, Dad's Army, which previously held the timeslot. The episode also faced competition from ITV's screening of Sabrina the Teenage Witch.[8]

Home releaseEdit

The episode was released first on home video in the United Kingdom, as part of a VHS release titled The Simpsons Collection; the episode was paired with season one episode "Bart the General".[9] It was released in the US on the VHS release The Best of The Simpsons, Vol. 1 (1997), paired with "Life on the Fast Lane".[10] It was later re-released in the US in a collector's edition boxed set of the first three volumes of The Best of The Simpsons collections.[11] It was re-released in the UK as part of a VHS boxed set of the complete first season, released in November 1999.[12] The episode's debut on the DVD format was as a part of The Simpsons season one DVD set, which was released on September 25, 2001. Groening, Jean, and Reiss participated in the DVD's audio commentary.[13] A digital edition of the series' first season was published December 20, 2010 in the United States containing the episode, through Amazon Video and iTunes.[14]


  1. ^ a b Groening, Matt (1997). Richmond, Ray; Coffman, Antonia (eds.). The Simpsons: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family (1st ed.). New York: HarperPerennial. p. 20. ISBN 978-0-06-095252-5. LCCN 98141857. OCLC 37796735. OL 433519M..
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian (2000). "There's No Disgrace Like Home". BBC. Archived from the original on June 23, 2003. Retrieved January 14, 2008.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Jean, Al (2001). The Simpsons season 1 DVD commentary for the episode "There's No Disgrace Like Home" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  4. ^ a b c d Groening, Matt (2001). The Simpsons season 1 DVD commentary for the episode "There's No Disgrace Like Home" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  5. ^ a b Reiss, Mike (2001). The Simpsons season 1 DVD commentary for the episode "There's No Disgrace Like Home" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  6. ^ "CBS still third despite Super Bowl". The Orlando Sentinel. February 1, 1990. p. E8.
  7. ^ Jacobson, Colin. "The Simpsons: The Complete First Season (1990)". DVD Movie Guide. Retrieved August 29, 2008.
  8. ^ Williams, Steve; Jones, Ian (March 2005). "THAT IS SO 1991!". Off The Telly. Archived from the original on December 20, 2007. Retrieved January 24, 2008.
  9. ^ "The Simpsons - Bart the General (1989)". Retrieved April 21, 2011.
  10. ^ The Best of The Simpsons, Vol. 1 - No Disgrace Like Home/ Life On The Fast Lane. ASIN 6304561849.CS1 maint: ASIN uses ISBN (link)
  11. ^ The Best of The Simpsons, Boxed Set 1. ASIN 6304561873.CS1 maint: ASIN uses ISBN (link)
  12. ^ "The Simpsons - Season 1 Box Set [VHS]". Retrieved April 21, 2011.
  13. ^ "The Simpsons - The Complete 1st Season". Archived from the original on May 25, 2011. Retrieved April 21, 2011.
  14. ^ "The Simpsons Season 1 - Amazon Video". Retrieved April 21, 2011.

External linksEdit