Feb 24, 2016

Simpsons Beefcake: Homer, Bart, and Friends Bulk Up

The Simpsons is the longest running network tv program of all time, with 547 episodes to date over a period of 25 years, surpassing even The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.  I watched religiously for the first ten years or so.  Now my viewing is a little sporadic; some episodes are still very good, and others mediocre but worth watching, but most are "been there, saw that!"  After 25 years, it's hard to be fresh and innovative.

At first it was queasy about the presence of LGBT people; Waylon Smithers, toady to town billionaire Montgomery Burns, came out slowly, painfully, a running joke over many seasons.  The only other gay regular character is Patty, Marge's sister, who came out in a gay marriage episode.  There have been a few other gay characters, here and there, over the years, mostly fey stereotypes, but nothing like the jaw-droppingly nasty homophobia of other Fox animated sitcoms like Family Guy.  

Plus occasional references to the fluidity of desire.

And tons of beefcake.  Shirts come off regularly.  Here are the top 10 beefcake hunks:

1.   Groundskeeper Willie first ripped off his shirt in "Sweet Seymour Skinner's Badaass Song" (1994),  to chase a dog through the ventilation system: "Grease me up, woman!" he orders Lunch Lady Doris.  He's repeatedly ripped off his shirt since, displaying an incongruously massive physique.  Also a nude backside.

2. Ned Flanders, the Simpsons' fundamentalist Christian neighbor, has another incongruously massive physique, first displayed when he played Stanley Kowalski in the 1992 episode "A Streetcar Named Marge."  He has been shown exercising many times since, to the consternation of homoerotically-challenged Homer "Stupid sexy Flanders."

3. Perennial thief Snake tones his muscles in the prison exercise yard, giving "hope to scrawny young men everywhere."

4. The Arnold Schwarzenegger parody, beefcake actor Rainier Wolfcastle, first appeared in "The Way We Was" (1991), and has been a perennial beefcake presence ever since, even giving a buffed-up Homer a job as his personal trainer

5. The Mike Tyson parody, boxer Drederick Tatum, first appeared in "Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment" (1991), and has flexed in the ring or soaked in a hot tub 22 times.

5. Bart Simpson?  While usually nondescript or fat,all of the Simpsons have bulked up in the series or in the comic books: Bart, Homer, Marge, Lisa.  Even Grandpa Simpson has shown major hunkage in flashbacks to his World War II days.

6. Duffman is the heavily-muscled spokesperson for Duff Beer, parodying the former Budweiser catchphrase "Oh, yeah!"  He is gay, and in a long-term relationship.

7. Radioactive Man, Bart's favorite comic book character, also has his own real-life comic book title.

8. The gay men Homer encounters tend to be feminine stereotypes, but they also know their way around a gym.  Homer accidentally takes Bart to an all-gay steel mill in "Homer's Phobia" (1997), and later he moves in with two buffed, feminine gay guys in "Three Gays of the Condo" (2003).

9. Muscular billionaire Hank Scorpio turns out to be a supervillain in "You Only Move Twice" (1996).

10. There are many, many more muscular, shirtless guys in the background in tv episodes and tie-in merchandise: lifeguards, athletes, college fratboys, boy band members.  This is a juggler who performs at the Springfield Squidport in the video game The Simpsons: Tapped Out