Unless I’m mistaken, the first 10 minutes of tonight’s episode of The Simpsons had more gags per second than the entire season so far. It was a pleasant surprise, too, because judging from the episode’s title, “Married to the Blob,” I had my doubts. After all, Married to the Mob has been used as the basis for a punny Simpsons’ title in the past, as in season 10’s “Mayored to the Mob” AKA: the one with Mark Hamill. Fittingly, Bi-Mon-Sci-Fi-Con was revisited briefly in “Blob,” and with the nerd-based humour that lay at the heart of the episode — including a couple of great cameos — this week’s Simpsons made it clear that you can’t always judge an outing by its title.
To begin with, Radioactive Man provides some laughs early on, this time in comic book form. From sky tweets from Commissioner Sweeney, to the evil of the Fossil Fuel Four, to “Frakcellent!” it was all great. The point of all this being that Old King Coal, Charcoal Briquette, and The Fracker team up to kill Radioactive Man, which Lisa astutely divines is an excuse for the comic book company to reboot the whole damn thing. On cue, Bart and Milhouse get a notice via Milhouse’s smartphone that the all-new, not-that-different Radioactive Man comic would be having a special midnight launch at Android’s Dungeon.
The special occasion of a new edition of Radioactive Man is made even more special when a young woman named Kumiko Nokimora comes into Comic Book Guy’s store. She’s from Osaka and is touring America’s saddest cities for an autobiographical manga. She finds CBG’s directness and snide commentary a refreshing change of pace from the norm in Japan, where no one says what they think (and where drinking Mr. Sparkle is apparently the number one method of suicide). Having found what seems to be the perfect woman (for him), Comic Book Guy’s heart grows three sizes, and then Kumiko’s father comes to town.
Thanks to Homer’s utter lack of self-awareness, Mr. Nokimora learns that she’s moved in with Comic Book Guy into the basement of the Android’s Dungeon. Let us pause here to reflect on TV’s apparent opinion that comic book store proprietorship is akin to poverty. We see this on The Big Bang Theory with Stuart as well, who’s constantly the butt of jokes about making $1.71 an hour, and eating half a can of tuna for dinner. I don’t know about you but the owner of my local comic book store is a soon to be a mother of two and has four employees. Just saying.
But if there’s one comic book fan myth that does get debunked, albeit haphazardly, it’s the old chestnut that girls don’t like comics, and don’t like men who like comics. It might strain credulity to say that as far as comic book store owners go, CBG is trim, friendly and quite a catch, but seeing CBG’s nerd rival in a happy-but-eccentric relationship with a woman just as passionate about all things nerdy as him is quite the step in a bold new direction. Of course, that’s not to say that shows can’t poke fun at the geek chorus anymore, but the idea that the only girls we can get are Cardboard Black Widow Scarlett Johanssons is a meme that should be buried alive in the backyard.