TV Club: The Simpsons: “Bull-E”

The Homer/Flanders relationship is rooted in adult disappointment. For all the various permutations of their decades-long conflict, Flanders functions as Homer’s next-door reminder that he’s not in charge of his life. Looking back, moving to Evergreen Terrace was a big step for a young father and husband, a hopeful signpost toward being a grownup, whatever that means. So when Flanders—with his perfect wife and perfect kids, and better job, and chiseled abs (stupid sexy Flanders)—took the house right next door, his comparative success in life needled Homer right where the American male doesn’t like to be needled, his pride. What rankles Homer even more is how gosh-darned-diddly nice his new rival is about everything, even in the face of Homer’s immediate, incessant, and seemingly unforgivable mooching, disrespect, and outright destructiveness. If The Simpsons was initially conceived as a satire about the American family …

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