Homer Buys a Gun
S09E05 The Cartridge Family
“The Cartridge Family” is the fifth episode of The Simpsons’ ninth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on November 2, 1997. It was written by John Swartzwelder and directed by Pete Michels. In the episode, Homer purchases a gun to protect his family, of which Marge disapproves. Homer begins to show extremely careless gun usage causing Marge to leave him when she catches Bart using the gun without their permission. The episode was intended to show guns in a neutral way, and faced some problems with the censors because of the subject matter.
The title of this episode is a play on the name of 1970s television series The Partridge Family. The end music is the theme to the 1960s series The Avengers, and the song playing when Homer is sitting and watching things go by while he is waiting five days for his gun is “The Waiting” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Petty rarely let his music be used on television, but, being a fan of The Simpsons, he allowed them to use it.
Mexico and Portugal would actually play each other to a 2–2 draw in the group stage of the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup. Both teams advanced to the knockout stage, and would later face off against each other in the third-place match, where Portugal would defeat Mexico 2–1 to finish the tournament in third place. It was the third highest-rated show on the Fox network, following The X-Files and King of the Hill.
The episode received several positive reviews, being included in the Herald Sun’s list of the top twenty The Simpsons episodes. It was also named the fifth best episode in the show’s history in an article by The Florida Times-Union. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette also praised the episode, calling The Simpsons “the only sitcom in memory to treat gun control with any fairness”.
On the other hand, the episode has been criticized by several outlets. The staff received several complaints from the NRA about the portrayal of the organization in the episode, despite the fact that the Springfield NRA revokes Homer’s membership for his irresponsible behavior. Ian Jones and Steve Williams criticized the episode, calling it “a messy, unfocused lampooning of gun culture”. Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, the authors of the book I Can’t Believe It’s a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, found that it was “one of the most politically unambiguous episodes ever”, but that “is very dull and the plot isn’t sustainable”. Anna Leszkiewicz in the New Statesman later pinpointed it as the moment Marge should have left Homer, saying “Homer has proved himself to be a violent, unstable, controlling, reckless husband”.
The episode was not initially aired on the United Kingdom satellite channel Sky1 due to scenes of flagrant gun misuse, yet was aired several times on BBC Two in an earlier evening timeslot. The episode has since been aired in daytime slots on all channels, albeit with partial editing. The episode was also included on the Too Hot for TV VHS and DVD, along with “Treehouse of Horror IX”, “Natural Born Kissers”, and “Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy”.
The episode closes with music from The Avengers. After the music had been recorded, Scully felt that it did not suit the ending and so wished to change it to something else. However, it was too late in production to get the full orchestra back to do a recording, and union rules meant that previous recordings could not be reused.
A riot breaks out in Springfield after a boring soccer match between Mexico and Portugal. Fearing for her family’s safety, Marge tells Homer to buy a Home Security System, but after learning it would cost $500, he buys a handgun instead. After a five-day waiting period per the Brady Act, Homer shows his firearm to Marge, who is horrified and demands he get rid of it. Homer brings her to a local National Rifle Association meeting hoping to change her mind, but she remains unconvinced.
After a near accident at the dinner table, Marge begs Homer to get rid of the gun. He promises to, but later, Bart and Milhouse find it in the refrigerator’s vegetable crisper. Marge discovers this and berates Homer, then leaves with the children and checks into a motel. That night, Homer hosts an NRA meeting at his house, but the other members kick him out of the association after seeing how recklessly he uses his pistol. Realizing what his behavior has cost him, Homer goes to the motel and tells Marge he got rid of the gun.
While leaving, Snake arrives to rob the desk clerk. Homer pulls out his gun and Marge is angry he lied again, but as he tries to apologize, Snake snatches the gun. The other NRA members arrive and foil Snake, who escapes. Homer then says he does not trust himself and asks Marge to throw the gun away herself. However, Marge sees a reflection of herself holding it in the trash can and decides to keep it. 1pp2p30eccmcv3443