It’s a sad state of affairs when the thing that makes me laugh the most in an episode of The Simpsons is a series of blink-and-you’ll-miss-them gags that come at the very beginning of the half hour. But, alas, my favorite part of “Gorgeous Grampa” was the extended riff on the reality shows that dominate the outskirts of cable. It was clearly just an excuse for the writers to stretch a bit, and it worked; a personal favorite was “Porn Hoarders: Texas.”
It’s unfortunate that what that set-up led to was another investigation into the secret history of Abe Simpson, which is a well we’ve drawn from at least once before this season, if not more. There are some fun bits in here, too, like Marge’s excitement at the prospect of lording her acceptance of a gay Abe over her friends and neighbors. I didn’t believe for a second that this episode would bring with it the kind of canon-changing revelation of Abe being gay, even if the prospect of a parody of Beginners does sound at least mildly intriguing. Still, this is more entertaining than what becomes of the story; once it segues into a story about old-fashioned wrestling, I lost interest, and didn’t gain it back for the rest of the episode.
Even a musical number couldn’t draw me in. Maybe I was cranky, but Mr. Burn’s ode to villainy was completely boring by my book. Bart’s mimicry of his grandpa felt like ground that might have been rife for humor, but it never really took off, and Grampa’s change of heart in the end didn’t do anything for me in terms of comedy or sentiment. What that leaves is an episode of The Simpsons that peaked early, fell flat quickly, and gave me nothing. Oh, and “Gorgeous Grampa” also opened with a “Harlem Shake” couch gag that felt weirdly opportunistic and zeitgeisty, and devoid of originality. Here’s hoping for a better episode next time.