Behind the Laughter

Behind the Laughter

Infobox Simpsons episode
episode_name = Behind the Laughter

image_caption= The Simpsons' popularity makes Bart's ego go through the roof.
episode_no = 248
prod_code = BABF19
airdate = May 21, 2000
show runner = Mike Scully
writer = Tim Long
George Meyer
Mike Scully
Matt Selman
director = Mark Kirkland
blackboard = "I will not obey the voices in my head"
couch_gag = The Simpsons sit at the couch as normal. Bart puts a coin in a slot on the arm of the couch and the couch vibrates away, taking the family with them.
guest_star = Willie Nelson as himself
Jim Forbes as the narrator
season = 11
"Behind the Laughter" is the 22nd episode of "The Simpsons'" eleventh season. It is presented in a narrative format, with Jim Forbes as narrator. The episode portrays the Simpson family as actors playing themselves on a sitcom, and tells the (partially fictional) story of how "The Simpsons" began. This episode won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming less than One Hour). This is also a clip-show.


This non-canoncite web|url=|title=Where Is The Simpsons' Springfield?|work=The Simpsons Archive|accessdate=2007-07-23] episode is a parody of "Behind the Music", the popular VH1 biography show, even sharing the same narrator, Jim Forbes. It begins with the Simpson family history and how they got into show business. The first part of the fake documentary follows the family from their weak beginnings to their exceptional prosperity. A television show, a recording contract, a lot of awards, and countless wealth follow Homer's inadequate video "pilot".

However, problems begin to arise as the Simpsons' fame continues. After a funny stunt causes him injury (the cliff plummet from "Bart the Daredevil," after a montage of Homer injury clips), Homer becomes addicted to prescription painkillers, Marge makes some senseless business investments, and Bart goes to rehab, being replaced on the show by Richie Rich. The IRS examines soon after and takes away their house (called "Homertime", since it belonged to rapper MC Hammer before he went bankrupt and was called "Hammertime"). Then, the family gets into a big dispute and splits up at the Iowa State Fair.

Fox is forced to put the show on hiatus, since none of the Simpsons will talk to each other. The members go their independent ways: Homer follows a career in the legitimate theater; Bart replaces Lorenzo Lamas as the star of the syndicated action show "Renegade"; Marge makes a nightclub act performing Bob Marley's song I Shot the Sheriff; and Lisa writes a tell-all book about her experiences and how Homer would slip anti-growth hormones into her cereal. Bringing the family back together seems hopeless until country singer Willie Nelson puts on a phony awards show in order to reconcile the family. They hug and forget past wrongs in a sensitive reunion. Again, they look with hope to the many years of episodes of the Simpsons to come...or not.

The episode ends with an epilogue, in which the narrator states, "...the future looks brighter than ever for this northern Kentucky family." (See below for analysis of this line.) Following the epilogue, we see the Simpson family in a video editing room, viewing a scene from an upcoming episode, which Homer claims will be in the last season. The scene shows the family talking about winning a trip to Delaware, and was later used as an actual scene in the episode, "Simpsons Tall Tales". The final scene shows a mock teaser for an "upcoming episode" of "Behind the Laughter" about Huckleberry Hound. The teaser shows the character revealing that he was gay.


Stating that the family is from Kentucky would seem to mark the end of a long-running joke seen throughout the series, which would continually (and sometimes narrowly) avoid mentioning the Simpson family's state of residence.cite web|url=|title=The Simpsons - Behind the Laughter episode summary||accessdate=2007-07-23] However, the episode is non-canon, being about the actors who play the Simpson family rather than the Simpsons themselves. In at least one network rerun, the state was changed to southern Missouri. The original line was kept in Canadian broadcasts, and is inconsistent in syndicated reruns. Which line will be used on the DVD set is unknown at this time. Also, it's worth noting that the show says they are a family from a set geographic area but does not specify that Springfield is in that location.

Cultural references

* For their show at the Iowa State Fair, the Simpsons wear costumes that are very similar to the Partridge Family's performing outfits.
* The cover of the "Krustophenia" record is a parody of The Who's "Quadrophenia".
* The Simpsons are featured on several magazines, including "TV Guide", "Rolling Stone", "Coin Laundry News", and "Short Hair Ideas".
* Like his alleged dove-and-bat-biting incidents, Ozzy Osbourne bites the top off of a Grammy and the trophy starts spurting blood.
* During the montage of guest stars who have appeared during The Simpsons, Gary Coleman was listed as a British knight. Coleman was never knighted and, not being a British subject, cannot be.
* Another motive of the phony awards show was to reunite Sammy Hagar with Van Halen, who are shown in the crowd scoffing at each other, following Hagar's departure from the band in 1996. They would reunite (although not permanently) in 2004.
* The black-and-white scene in which a plastic bag floats into the air is a reference to a similar scene in "American Beauty".
* Lisa mentions that ""Mr. Geffen"" produced the Simpsons Boogie record. Geffen Records released two albums of original music featuring the show's characters, "The Simpsons Sing the Blues" and "The Yellow Album".
* The bass line to "Simpsons Christmas Boogie" is based on that of the 1970s disco song "Boogie Oogie Oogie" by A Taste of Honey.

Celebrity References

* MC Hammer - The Simpsons buy his house "Hammertime" (renamed "Homertime" by Homer) to live as a house outside the show. Bart also says he found a room filled with MC's Hammer Pants which he (Bart) wore to school every day that year.
* Ozzy Osbourne - He is seen as the presenter of the Grammy Awards in which he gets angry at the Simpsons for winning too many Grammy's then bites the head off one, just like he did with a bat in a live concert.
* Sir Gary Coleman - He is seen as one of the guest stars the Simpsons had to bring to their show to make it popular. Coleman was given the honorary prefix "Sir", however Coleman has never received a British honor.
* Stephen Hawking - He is seen as one of the guest stars the Simpsons had to bring to their show to make it popular.
* Tom Kite - He is seen as one of the guest stars the Simpsons had to bring to their show to make it popular.
* Butch Patrick - He is seen as one of the guest stars the Simpsons had to bring to their show to make it popular.
* Willie Nelson - Julius Hibbert asks him to bring the Simpsons by making a fake awards show, which he does.
* Woody Allen - When Willie Nelson admits the "Awareness Awards" are a fake, Woody is shown in the audience and says "I knew it was to good to be true!" then drops several trophies to the floor and steps on them.
* Van Halen - Willie Nelson admits that other reason to host the phony "Awareness Awards" was to bring Sammy Hagar back together with Van Halen.
* Bob Marley - Marge forms a night club act which features singing Marley's song I Shot The Sheriff.
* Lorenzo Lamas - Bart replaces him as the main character in the show Renegade.
* Jimmy Carter - He has a break-dancing and banjo playing act which is the opening act for the Simpson's disastrous concert in Iowa.
* The Queen of England - The Queen is seen eating a TV dinner whilst watching "The Simpsons".
* Gloria Allred - Is featured at the family's lawyer-ridden Thanksgiving, being described as a "Shrill feminist attorney."
* Falco - Before the Simpsons enter the "Awareness Awards", Willie Nelson congratulates musician Taco Ockerse for his great tribute to "Falco".
* Taco Ockerse - Taco plays an interpretation of Falco's "Rock Me Amadeus" before the "Awareness Awards".
* Eddie Murphy - Homer says that he wants to set things straight "I thought the cop was a prostitute". This is a reference to Eddie Murphy's "prostitute incident".


External links

*snpp capsule|BABF19
*imdb episode|id=0701068|episode=Behind the Laughter

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