Homer Simpson, Ozzie Nelson and Postmodernism

After back to back brilliance, “The Simpsons” hit a stumbling block. While “The Man in the Blue Flannel Pants” wasn’t bad, exactly, it just never quite came together and suffered from a severely questionable choice of guest stars. “The Cleveland Show”? Really? C’mon, guys, you’re better than that. And that guy from “Mad Men” brought nothing to the table. Rather than go over what was a definite comedown from the “The Book Job” that aired a week before, let us ignore “The Man in the Blue Flannel Pants” except as it gives a reason to go back over the multitude of jobs held by Homer Simpson. 

In this lackluster outing, Homer takes over accounts at SNPP in order to allow the writers to combine the fleeting popularity of “Mad Men” with the iconic novel and movie “The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit.” But enough of that; let’s take a look at the listing of jobs that Homer provides to Marge in the infinitely superior episode “Papa’s Got a Brand New Badge.” At one point during that episode, Homer Simpson goes through literally every job he has had. This list reveals that Homer Simpson has had a much more interesting life at work than most. Think about living a life in which your jobs ranged not from fast food cook to retail store manager but rather from plow truck driver to astronaut. Okay, most of us will never get the chance to become an astronaut, what with the overly late cuts to the budget of our space exploration program, but how many of you have held these other jobs that Homer has tried his hand at: convenience store clerk, truck driver, pin monkey at a bowling alley, diner cook, corrections officer, mall Santa, personal assistant, store greeter or telemarketer? 

One of the all time great running jokes in the history of television revolved around exactly what it was that Ozzie Nelson did for a living on “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.” The fact that during the 1950s a man was defined by what he did and the fact that Ozzie rebelled against that conformity is just one aspect of that underappreciated show that makes it perhaps the prototypical postmodern sitcom in American TV history. It would be equally impossible to define Homer Simpson by what he does, but for completely different reasons. Who would ever have thought that Ozzie Nelson and Homer Simpson would share postmodern philosophical underpinnings?