TV Club: The Simpsons attempts to borrow a feeling from Boyhood

“Did you ever see the movie Boyhood?”

“Oh, is that what this was?”

Good question, Homer.

While this Boyhood-inspired episode of The Simpsons apes the storytelling gimmick of Richard Linklater’s coming-of-age film, it misses the point almost completely. Instead of using the time-lapse structure to lend new insight into Bart Simpson’s mind, Dan Greaney’s script just rehashes the show’s same old character beats and jokes with different haircuts. As missed opportunities go, “Barthood” is especially disheartening.

Reviewing The Simpsons some fifteen years past its prime is often an exercise in lowered expectations and faint praise, but I’m not a cynic about the show. When the stars align and an episode finds the sweet spot of heart and big laughs The Simpsons used to be renowned for, my gratitude is such that I have to check myself before issuing a grade, lest relief leads to …

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