1. Mother Simpson
All the years we watched “The Simpsons” we never quite knew about Homer’s mother. We know that Homer grew up with an overbearing occasionally mean father who didn’t care much for Homer, but we barely garnered a glimpse in to Homer’s other parent. I naturally assumed for many years that she died when he was a baby and Homer was stuck with an awful dad. Truth be told, Homer’s father Abe isn’t even that much of a mean dad, just someone who grew up in a different time. There was that stern belief that dads couldn’t and shouldn’t be friends with their sons. That idea still carries over today with some parents. In either case, we’re finally given an idea of what happened to Homer’s mother and why he never really spoke of her all this time.
After faking his death in a prank during work, Homer is reported as being officially deceased. In an effort to prove he’s alive, Homer tries to correct the information and finds out that his mother is actually alive. Her grave he’d been told was hers for many years is that of Walt Whitman’s (“Leaves of grass, my ass!”). After falling in to a parallel grave, he meets his mother Mona, who’d gone to pay respects to her son. Glenn Close gives a fantastic performance as Homer’s loving and forgiving mother who loved Homer in spite of his evident slow wittedness. Unlike Abe, she knew Homer, and she understood what made him tick. The scene where she puts Homer to sleep with the “Fig Newton” jingle really showed how Homer grew up in front of and around the television.
A habit that would carry in to his adulthood. We learn a lot about Homer’s mom, as she was one of the many women who grew up during a time where she was told she had to be subservient and a house wife. Learning to rebel against authority, and find her own path, she mistakenly releases chemicals in a lab run by none other than Monty Burns. After lying low with Homer, we’re given a ton of insight in to Homer’s life. This features touching scenes of Homer being sung to sleep by Mona, Mona realizing she wanted to change her life, and the hard choice to leave him to avoid Mr. Burns damaging her family, including her son.
There’s also some excellent moments involving her bonding with her grandchildren, a montage of Homer and Mona making up for lost time, Homer blaming himself for Mona leaving, and Lisa finding a soul mate in Mona. No matter how many times I’ve seen the episode, the finale still draws a tear from me as Mona is forced to flee (and escapes thanks to Chief Wiggum). Homer has no choice but to bid Mona a goodbye tearfully declaring “At least this time I’m awake for your goodbye.” The last scene of Homer sitting on the side of road watching the stars is still so damn heartbreaking, and lends a real humanity to Homer and his somewhat troubled life. It’s a beautiful episode and one with an evident sadness underneath the laughs.