Sometimes, The Simpsons is simply exhausting here in its late period. What, exactly, was “Love Is a Many Splintered Thing” supposed to be? Can anyone tell me? Because all it felt like was a mess, unfocused and boring. I guess we’re supposed to take it as a riff on romantic comedies, just in time for Valentine’s Day, what with all the “Love Indubitably” and the Woody Allen mockery, but on that level, it mostly just points at familiar references, expects us to laugh, then moves on without playing with or commenting on any of it. And sure, maybe seeing Lisa done up like Diane Keaton in Annie Hall was fun, but I wish it was doing something.
And Zooey Deschanel is back, and is mostly unfunny. She sings twice, because of course she does, but at least the concept of “jugband samba” is a funny one. She’s here, and then she leaves, because Zooey Deschanel can’t be a regular character, which saps any fun out of the Bart plot here. We know she’s going to leave. For Homer and Marge, too, there’s a distinct lack of suspense; we know they have to get back together. And whatever slight split them up, it feels rote at this point, the standard Marge-Homer conflict that this show has traded in for 24 seasons now, with no life in it here.
Spinning around these two romance plots is an unbearable amount of wacky ephemera, cartoon physics and caricatures come to life and an entire set of sadsack men we’ve never seen before. Why, exactly, couldn’t all those men at the hotel have been Springfield regulars? Instead, we got a pack of ciphers, instead of say, Apu or Chief Wiggum or whoever, someone familiar that could land a few jokes. It just feels sloppy. As you can probably tell, I’m rather crabby about The Simpsons this week; I just found “Love Is a Many Splintered Thing” to be completely boring and unsatisfying, is all.