The post Here’s How The Simpsons Is Parodying Prestige TV Right Now appeared first on Consequence.
It’s been a long, long time since The Simpsons was considered cutting edge television; that’s not meant as an insult to the series, but instead an acknowledgement of what happens when a show has been on the air for over 30 years. But every once in a while, the iconic cartoon shows signs of wanting to acknowledge the current state of television — in this case, with a special two-parter episode entitled “A Serious Flanders,” which seeks to have a conversation about the quirks of today’s Emmy-winning dramas.
Perhaps because prestige TV is a vast and weird bucket to try to parody, the first part of this two-part The Simpsons adventure focuses in on Noah Hawley’s re-imagining of Fargo, down to that series’ split-screening, music style, and even the plot.
After all, everyone knows that in the world of Fargo, the worst thing that can happen to a person is discovering a secret sack full of cash, and even though Ned Flanders (Harry Shearer) does his best to use the money he finds in the woods for good, the event ends up attracting a ruthless criminal element to Springfield.
While Part 1 of “A Serious Flanders” features a ton of easter eggs and sly references to this particular era of television, none stand out more than the casting of Timothy Olyphant as Ned’s father Sheriff Flanders, a virtuous lawman a la Deadwood, and Justified, and Fargo Year 4, and that one episode of The Mandalorian…
Actually, all of the guest stars have serious prestige TV credits: Brian Cox, obviously, is currently the patriarch at the center of Succession (or, as it’s known on Simpflix, Suck-Suck-Cession), while Chris O’Dowd starred in the series adaptation of Get Shorty, Jessica Paré played the second Mrs. Draper on Mad Men, and Cristin Milioti’s credits in this arena are nearly countless, between Black Mirror, Made for Love, 30 Rock, Modern Love, and of course Fargo Year 2.
The Simpsons Tease “Darker and Prestigier” Crime Thriller in Trailer for “A Serious Flanders”: Watch
It’s fun to see these characters bounce off the regular Simpsons players (with Paré’s dry Frenchwoman proving to be the standout) but the real draw for watching the episode comes in the first few moments, as things begin with a new title card:
The Simpsons (Fox)
Followed by the “listings” for a wide lineup of Simpsons-fied prestige originals, with highlights including Krusty the Clown in Krustified, Bee-Jack Horseman featuring Pedro Chespirito A.K.A. Bumblebee Man, and Better Call Selm. (Presumably the prequel series to Breaking Bart?)
The Simpsons (Fox)
The episode as it unfurls is actually quasi-compelling, albeit striking an odd chord due to the blending of styles, and the cliffhanger comes a bit out of nowhere — if only because two-part Simpsons episodes are a pretty rare occurrence, having only happened three times before in the show’s history, most notably with the Season 6 finale/Season 7 premiere “Who Shot Mr. Burns?”
Also, not to go full Comic Book Guy here, but it’s hard to process the choice to call this “A Serious Flanders” given that it’s a riff on a Coen brothers film title, and the Coens aren’t officially involved with the Fargo TV show in any significant way.
But it’s worth taking the time to appreciate the existence of “A Serious Flanders,” as it’s impressive to see a show with this kind of longevity take a big swing like this; it hearkens back to the era where the show was must-see viewing for all ages. Frankly, it’s refreshing and novel, to even have reason to celebrate The Simpsons for trying something new. Whether or not this episode marks the beginning of a new era for the show, it’s still fun, for the first time in decades, to look forward to the next episode.
“A Serious Flanders” Part 1 is streaming now on Hulu. Part 2 premieres Sunday, November 14th at 8:00 p.m. ET.