‘The Simpsons’ Parodies ‘The Bear’ in New Clip Touting Workers’ Rights and Spoofing Ghost Kitchens (EXCLUSIVE)

‘The Simpsons’ Parodies ‘The Bear’ in New Clip Touting Workers’ Rights and Spoofing Ghost Kitchens (EXCLUSIVE)

More than 30 years ago, “The Simpsons” tackled workers’ rights in the beloved 1993 episode “Last Exit to Springfield.” Now, the series is updating its take on unions for the modern age, via this Sunday’s episode “Night of the Living Wage.” And there’s even a unique backstory: Cesar Mazariegos, who wrote the episode, also recently served as a WGA strike captain during last year’s Writers Guild strike.

In “Last Exit to Springfield,” Homer became president of the union at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, and took the workers on strike to save their dental plan. This time, it’s Marge’s turn. In “Night of the Living Wage,” the Simpsons are stuck with a large veterinarian bill, forcing Marge to take a job at the food delivery app “GimmeChow” and its ghost kitchens.

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But Marge soon finds that she and her fellow workers are overworked — as depicted in one scene, inspired by “The Bear” episode “Review” (scroll down to watch) — and that their overtime pay is stolen. That leads Marge to unionize her co-workers, and GimmeChow to retaliate.

“The idea came out of seeing how tech disruption is, for the most part, usually just a workaround trying to screw someone else,” Mazariegos said. “Turn your house into a hotel, your car into the cab and have them not pay insurance. We did a union episode years ago, about Homer’s union, which is beloved. But that’s a 30-year-old episode. What can we say about unionization today, especially when it’s being fought at every turn by these multibillion dollar companies? This felt like a fresh space to use, the idea of the ghost kitchen and these apps. We see the ease with which we can get deliveries. But what we don’t often see is people being screwed and penny pinched to death.”

The story for “Night of the Living Wage” was conceived prior to last year’s WGA strike, and labor has long been on Mazariegos’ mind: His wife is an activist who has been organizing for years. Besides his role as a strike captain, Mazariegos was also inspired by the 2020 campaign in California for Proposition 22, which allowed app-based transportation and delivery companies to classify their drivers as “independent contractors” instead of “employees.”

“I wanted to say something,” Mazariegos said. With the Hollywood strikes, the topic of the episode became timely for everyone on “The Simpsons” staff — including the show’s animators and other staffers who are still awaiting word on this year’s IATSE contract negotiations.

“Seeing the wins that we got, that SAG got and now hopefully that IATSE will get, it feels like an incredible time to have been able to pull this episode off,” he said. “Our production staff did an amazing job on this episode. It’s very real for them, and for so many people in this town. Clearly everything isn’t back to normal just yet. [IATSE and the Teamsters] were there to support us and we’re there to support them also.”

Mazariegos said “Night of the Living Wage” was pitched and written prior to last year’s strikes but was shelved as production halted. That wound up being a good thing, as it hadn’t yet reached the animation stage, allowing him and the writers to tweak it after the strikes ended. “One of the things that we were looking at was how to update the story,” he said. “Originally was going to be an Amazon warehouse, but even that story is now ten years old. This felt much newer, there’s so much tech deception in the ghost kitchen space. Matt Selman, our executive producer, is a sucker for food and restaurant jokes.”

As an homage to that one-take “The Bear” episode, keep an eye out for the big can of “Mayo Edibiri” that Marge ends up spilling in the chaos (leading to a rare, pixelated expletive shouted by Marge). “Night of the Living Wage,” which airs Sunday, April 7, at 8 p.m. ET on Fox, was written by Mazriegos and directed by Chris Clements. Jason Mantzoukas guest stars as “Finn Bon Idée.”

Here’s “The Simpsons” clip, followed by “The Bear” moment that inspired it.

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