Every so often, one of the mentees in my free online KickSugar group draws my attention to a particularly humorous episode of “The Simpsons” which tackles the obesity epidemic with particular brilliance. Despite the sadness of our situation of fast-growing girth, you can’t help but laugh (or at least chuckle heartily) at some of the animated show’s humorously astute observations about our horrific national dilemma.
For instance, one episode, “The Heartbroke Kid” (1617, May 1, 2005 airdate), cleverly addresses the ongoing vending-machines-in-the-schools dilemma. In it, Bart becomes a junk food junkie soon after new vending machines are installed in his school. Not surprisingly, his steady diet of fiber-stripped, processed foods results in massive weight gain and even a heart attack. Ultimately, after going on a tough-to-follow strict diet and then an extended stay at an exorbitant diet facility (so costly that his parents turn their home into a hostel), Bart smashes the vending machine that made him fat and gives the money to his family.
Then, there’s the outlandishly innovative and humorous episode, “Sweets and Sour Marge,” (1308, original airdate, Jan. 20, 2002). In it, a saddened Marge decides to kick sugar after her town of Springfield receives the dubious distinction as the “World’s Fattest Town.” Marge then embarks on a crusade against against the “Motherloving Sugar Corporation” for “ruining the whole town’s health” by making “harmful foods,” and she goes door to door to convince neighbors to join her fight against “Big Sugar.”
In a magnificently funny TV moment, Marge visits Disco Stu,” who admits, “I’ve been hooked on the white stuff since the ‘70s.” He then greedily inhales sucrose through a rolled dollar bill as if it were a line of cocaine. (Boy did I laugh!)
Back in court, “whistle blowers” are trotted out. “Well, we knew perfectly well it was addictive,” testifies a professor working on a top-secret “Hoiven Maven” project. “Candy was just a sugar delivery system. We thought we were God.”
At first, townspeople rejoice when Marge wins her case and a judge bans all forms of sugar from Springfield forever. But almost immediately, though, pandemonium sets in.
“Sugar, need sugar,” plaintively mourn the jittery, frantic townspeople. Even Marge’s desperate-for-sweets hubby Homer plots with other sugar-clamoring men and becomes a bootlegger, smuggling in the substance “from the island of San Glucose.”
And, when the sugary shipment arrives, Marge begs her spouse to dump it overboard. “Homer, you’ll be condemning this town to a life of obesity and diabetes,” she warns. After he jettisons the sugar into the harbor, frenzied residents jump in to guzzle the sweet, fish-filled water, and Marge sadly realizes, “Everyone looks so happy. Maybe I should stop trying to change the world.”
The episode concludes with the judge rescinding his sugar ban and the sugar-hooked townspeople, including Homer and the Simpson kids, leap into the harbor to greedily slurp the sweet brine.
Fanciful fiction? Hardly.
These two astute “Simpsons” episodes illustrate our nation’s overpowering, irrational, almost compulsive over-reliance on sweets. A crutch that more and more people are seeking to break for the sake of their health and moods. (If you’d like some help, please join my free online, KickSugar support group.)