The Simpsons Turns Krusty Into Ellen

In a shade of social commentary, Krusty gets the gig after doing a child’s party at “Affluence Acres,” a gated community for celebrities who made their money on American Idol. But that’s nothing compared to the cash to be had on syndicated talk shows, that’s syndicated megabuck territory, and The Simpsons slums to conquer. Krusty finds his dream gig, a studio audience who loves being pandered to.

Marge’s slow fall into disillusionment is done extremely well. From the time she learns all the production assistants are named Jordan because it’s easier on the producers, she leans into the encroaching toxicity of mid-management privilege, taking smaller and smaller steps back. The most frightening sequence is the “segment” segment, which is the only nightmare aside the episode needs.

“The King of Nice” is a belatedly underhanded comment on the problems the Ellen show faced a few years ago, but kept contemporary by the perennially fresh use of memes. It is fitting that Marge is a natural, knocking off segment ideas like “teens explain TikTok to carpool moms,” and “candle-box opening and sniffing.” Her ideas are unbelievably nice, so perfectly non-toxic preschoolers can put them in their mouths, but the pressure to churn out so many feeds on Marge’s soul.

That may seem a bit dramatic for a cartoon, but it works in juxtaposition to Homer’s dilemma, being stuck in a supermarket where he is taunted by all the food he can’t eat. The family is actually very supportive, and mainly for the right reasons. During an intervention, Lisa counters Marge’s claim of being a powerful successful woman with the mixed messages of her how-best-to-show-cleavage segments. Homer truly believes a dream job is something which makes someone happy, and he’s not seeing that in Marge. “I never thought I would speak ill of TV, but it’s destroying you,” he says in an emotionally effective personal paradox, entirely true to his character. Bart, of course, has the most sensible solution.

In the most self-referential segment, Bart lays out “The Krusty the Clown Show” as a metaphor for The Simpsons. He’s got over 700 classic Krusty episodes to choose from, why would any show with so many great episodes bother to make any more? The reason, of course, is revenge. The Simpsons can still take on Fox from the inside, and get paid for doing it. They don’t say this out loud, but only in this episode, they haven’t hidden their scheme at all.

Krusty doesn’t really care about revenge, for now, but he also hides very little in his baggiest of pants. Besides stolen trophies, he also telegraphs his scams. He is just a clown trying to keep himself in seltzer water, with an eye on an infinity toilet. The show’s producer, and episode antagonist, Lindsey Naegle is also cagily open about her ulterior motives. She tries to bond with Marge as a fellow woman in the business world, but warns her subordinate segment producer to always detect a general sense of unease about her intentions. These are standard-issue ironies for The Simpsons, which shreds the boundaries of ethics and morality with consistent ease.

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