For nearly three decades, the Simpsons have been the quintessential television family and blue hair notwithstanding, Homer and Marge have the absolute most realistic marriage on TV. They may not have the perfect marriage but it’s this willingness to show the real joy and challenges that come with choosing to spend your life with another person that set them apart from so many other television couples. Even when one of them (usually Homer) is at their absolute dumbest, their ability to stick together through tough times is admirable. Here are 10 of the best episodes of The Simpsons showcasing this bizarrely functional television marriage.
10. “The War of the Simpsons” (Season 2, Episode 20)
After Homer makes a drunken ass of himself at a party, Marge decides to sign up for a weekend of marriage counseling hosted by Reverend Lovejoy and his wife, Helen. Homer agrees to go but only because the retreat is being held at Catfish Lake, where Homer hopes to catch General Sherman, a legendarily large catfish. This may not be Homer’s finest hour as a husband but he manages to redeem himself when he lets General Sherman go in order to prove his love to a distraught Marge.
9. “Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily” (Season 7, Episode 3)
After a series of wacky mishaps that involve Bart and Lisa going to school with head lice and no shoes, respectively, Homer and Marge end up having their kids taken away from them by Child Protective Services. Perhaps no episode before or after addresses the Simpsons’ (let’s be real, Homer’s) less than stellar parenting with the same critical eye, though the two are eventually able to get their kids back when they learn the error of their ways and are declared “decent parents.” It’s unlikely that Homer and Marge will ever win awards for their parenting skills but this episode does show just how much they care about their kids in their own imperfect way.
8. “A Milhouse Divided” (Season 8, Episode 6)
When Milhouse’s parents get divorced because Mr. Van Houten was not aware of his wife’s unhappiness, it forces Homer to question whether he is meeting Marge’s needs. When Homer recalls their terrible wedding reception, he decides to use his trademark blend of stupidity and sweetness to divorce Marge so that they can be remarried properly. It’s a pretty dumb plan but Homer is so sincere in his love for Marge that it’s tough not to root for him.
6. “El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer” (The Mysterious Voyage of Homer) (Season 8, Episode 9)
Upon winning a chili-eating contest, a pepper-inducing hallucination leaves Homer wondering if Marge is really his soulmate due to their polar opposite personalities and outlooks on life. Homer decides to wander the streets in search of his one true love and ends up in a lighthouse where Marge somehow finds him, affirming that despite their differences, the two belong together. The episode is the unique blend of extremely weird and surprisingly moving that only the Simpsons can be.
6. “$pringfield” (Season 5, Episode 10)
A casino is built in Springfield and while this seems like the perfect opportunity for Homer to give into any number of vices, it’s actually Marge who finds herself in trouble when she becomes addicted to gambling. This gives Homer the rare chance to play the role of a good husband, as he is able to confront Marge and show her she has a problem. The episode is able to highlight the way addiction can destroy a life or a marriage but Homer and Marge’s love for one another once again saves the day.
5. “Natural Born Kissers” (Season 9, Episode 25)
On their eleventh wedding anniversary, Homer and Marge try to get it on for the first time in a long time, only to discover they lack the sexual drive and chemistry they once had. However, when they eventually discover that they are able to become aroused when they are in danger of being caught in the act, they become obsessed with finding public places to do the deed. Struggling to keep the spark alive is something most that most married couples deal with and this episode gives an honest look at a common problem most people don’t talk about.
4. “I Married Marge” (Season 3, Episode 12)
As a painfully accurate depiction of a working-class couple, Homer and Marge are often too busy struggling to make ends meet to think about things like romance. And in this episode, viewers find that has been the case for the entirety of their marriage, as they got hitched long before they planned to after Marge discovered she was pregnant with Bart. But even as they begin their decidedly unremarkable life, the two never question the love that they have for one another.
3. “Life On the Fast Lane” (Season 1, Episode 9)
This is the first time in the series that we really see Marge and Homer struggle with their marriage, as Marge is tempted by another man after Homer buys her a bowling ball with his name on it for her birthday. In the end, Marge decides not to go through with the affair after being reminded of the commitment she made to Homer, despite his many screw-ups. Life On the Fast Lane showed just how groundbreaking the Simpsons was, as it was willing to give an honest look at the ups and downs that come with marriage.
2. “The Way We Was” (Season 2, Episode 12)
While the story of how Homer and Marge met has been changed more times than the show’s opening credits, this is widely considered their official origin story by fans. Seeing a young Homer desperately try (and nearly fail) to win over Marge is incredibly sweet, as he is forced to compete with Artie Ziff, who is everything Homer is not: a sophisticated intellectual who turns out to be an entitled creep.
1. “A Streetcar Named Marge” (Season 4, Episode 2)
Homer is typically displayed as a lovable oaf but sometimes his selfishness and lack of awareness can just make him an oaf, especially when it comes to his marriage. In one of the best episodes in the series, Marge finds herself on her last nerve after Homer fails to show the smallest level of interest in Marge playing Blanche in a local production of A Streetcar Named Desire. But when Homer sees the play, he realizes that he is more like Stanley than he would like to admit and promises Marge that he will try his best to care more about her interests.
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