"Sideshow Bob Roberts" is the fifth episode of The Simpsons' sixth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on October 9, 1994. Kelsey Grammer returns as Sideshow Bob, who, in this episode, wins the Springfield mayoral election through electoral fraud. The episode was written by Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein, and directed by Mark Kirkland. Oakley and Weinstein drew inspiration for the episode from the Watergate scandal, and included many cultural references to political films, as well as real-life events. These included the film All the President's Men and the first televised debate between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy during the 1960 United States presidential election.
The episode received a favorable reception in the media, including a positive mention in I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide and Green Bay Press-Gazette. A review in Press & Sun-Bulletin placed the episode as the seventh best of the series.
|"Sideshow Bob Roberts"|
|The Simpsons episode|
|Episode no.||Season 6|
|Directed by||Mark Kirkland|
|Written by||Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein|
|Original air date||October 9, 1994|
Sideshow Bob calls local right-wing talk show host Birch Barlow and complains about being unfairly imprisoned for the attempted murders of Bart Simpson ("Cape Feare") and Selma Bouvier ("Black Widower"). Barlow incites Springfield's residents to pressure Mayor Quimby into releasing Sideshow Bob who after his release is unveiled as the Republican candidate for the Springfield mayoral election. Despite Bart and Lisa's attempts to prevent Bob's election, he wins the election in a landslide.
Abusing his new position, Sideshow Bob proceeds to make the Simpsons' lives miserable, demoting Bart to kindergarten and attempting to demolish their house to build to a new 'Matlock Expressway'. Bart and Lisa begin to suspect that the election was rigged but cannot find any proof until Smithers, who worked for Sideshow Bob's campaign, tells them to find a voter named Edgar Neubauer. Bart discovers the name Edgar Neubauer on a tombstone at the cemetery, prompting him and Lisa to check the other names and noticing that most voters for Bob are long dead.
Sideshow Bob is put on trial for election fraud and is tricked into confessing when Bart and Lisa insinuate that he would be too stupid to plan and execute such a crime. He is found guilty, stripped of his position and sent back to prison with all decisions he made as mayor being reversed.
Although the episode primarily mocks the Republican Party, the writers included several jokes at the expense of the Democratic Party, liberal and conservative politics, to try to be as neutral as possible. Writers Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein were very interested in the Watergate scandal and based a lot of the second act on that. Mark Kirkland directed the episode.
The episode sees Kelsey Grammer return as Sideshow Bob for his fourth appearance. Clips from previous episodes featuring Bob were used to remind viewers who he was and what he had done. Bob's Cape Fear musical cue from the episode "Cape Feare" is also reused. Showrunner David Mirkin found directing Grammer "a joy". Dr. Demento also guest-starred, as did Larry King for the second time, while Henry Corden voices Fred Flintstone on the Flintstones toy phone. One of the prisoners in Bob's campaign advert is a caricature of producer Richard Sakai. The "Les Wynan" joke was pitched by Mike Reiss. The episode does not feature a chalkboard or couch gag, cutting straight from the clouds to the TV. The 1994 original airing and some syndication edits have included a couch gag.
The episode contains the first use of the word "meh" in the show. The word, which was later included in the Collins English Dictionary, is credited as being popularized by the show, principally following its usage in the season twelve episode "Hungry, Hungry Homer". In "Sideshow Bob Roberts", the word is used by the librarian who provides Lisa with the town's voting records, in response to her questioning their unclassified nature.
Much of the episode is based on the Watergate scandal, as well as other real-life political events. The two Republicans who follow Bob around were based on H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, two of Richard Nixon's closest advisors during Watergate. Sideshow Bob's campaign advert was based on the famous Willie Horton and Revolving Door political advertisements used by George H. W. Bush during the 1988 United States presidential election. Birch Barlow's question to Mayor Quimby about whether his stance on crime would differ if it was his family being attacked is a reference to Bernard Shaw's similar question to Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis during the 1988 presidential debates. Quimby's appearance during the debate parodies Richard Nixon's appearance during his first televised debate with John F. Kennedy during the 1960 presidential election. Nixon had recently recovered from a cold, and sweated considerably throughout, something that was detrimental to the impression he made in the debate.
Many political films are also referenced. The episode features several references to the film All the President's Men, which chronicled Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's investigation of the Watergate scandal. These include the pull-out of Lisa looking over the voting records, the music, and the clandestine meeting with Smithers in a parking garage. The end court scene, as well as Sideshow Bob's speech, echo the 1992 film A Few Good Men, including Jack Nicholson's speech with the line "You can't handle the truth". Bob's sudden confession that he did rig the election was a vague reference to "every episode of Perry Mason". Sideshow Bob gives his acceptance speech underneath a giant poster with a picture of himself on it; this is a reference to the campaign speech scene in Citizen Kane. The title of the episode and several plot elements, including Bob entering Burns' meeting draped in an American flag, are references to the 1992 film Bob Roberts.
The character Birch Barlow is a take-off of American talk show host and political commentator Rush Limbaugh. Barlow mentions Colonel Oliver North, Officer Stacey Koon and advertising mascot Joe Camel as being "intelligent conservative[s], railroaded by our liberal justice system". Also, the language spoken at Republican Party headquarters is inspired by Enochian, a language associated with occult and Satanic ceremonies.
The Springwood Minimum Security Prison is a parody of Allenwood Minimum Security Prison. When Lisa drives, she is listening to "St. Elmo's Fire" by John Parr, a choice David Mirkin found "very sad". Archie Comics characters Archie Andrews, Reggie Mantle, Moose Mason and Jughead Jones are shown throwing Homer on the Simpsons' lawn and warning him to "stay out of Riverdale!" Some of the deceased voters are Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper, who all died in a plane crash on February 3, 1959. The epitaph on The Big Bopper's gravestone is "Gooooodbye, Baby!" a reference to the opening line of his song "Chantilly Lace" – "Hellooo Baby!". Finally, the Simpsons' home being demolished to make way for the "Matlock Expressway" is a very slight reference to the opening of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
David L.G. Arnold comments in the book Leaving Springfield that the episode is a satire on "society's lazy, uninformed attitude about the electoral process", as well as "a comment on the role in society of a cadre of elites (the Republican party) who see themselves as naturally suited to lead". The episode also portrays Republicans as willing to break the law in order to achieve this; in this case, Bob commits electoral fraud. This is most displayed in Bob's line: "Your guilty conscience may force you to vote Democratic, but deep down inside you secretly long for a cold-hearted Republican to lower taxes, brutalize criminals, and rule you like a king. That's why I did this: to protect you from yourselves."
Matthew Henry writes in the same book that the episode "well illustrates the battle of [political] ideologies [...] and its engagement with the politics of sexuality". He refers to the scene where Smithers intimates that Bob rigged the election; his motivation for whistleblowing is Bob's conservative policies, which disagree with his "choice of lifestyle", namely his homosexuality. Henry concludes the scene shows that conservative politics and homosexuality "cannot coexist" and that the scene marks the point where Smithers' sexuality became "public and overtly political".
In its original broadcast, "Sideshow Bob Roberts" finished tied for 64th place in the weekly ratings for the week of October 3 to October 9, 1994, with a Nielsen rating of 8.6. It was the sixth highest rated show on the Fox network that week.
Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, the authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, noted the episode was: "A stunningly outspoken political satire that drew considerable disapproval from the Republican Party when it was aired." Eric Reinagel, Brian Moritz, and John Hill of the Press & Sun-Bulletin named "Sideshow Bob Roberts" as the seventh best episode of the series. Thomas Rozwadowski of Green Bay Press-Gazette placed the episode among his list of the ten best episodes of the show which have lessons: "Corrupt politicians always get their comeuppance. Or not." He also highlighted Bob's campaign advert and Kent Brockman's line: "And the results are in. For Sideshow Bob, 100 percent. For Joe Quimby, 1 percent. And we remind you, there is a 1 percent margin of error."
The episode has been used in a course at Columbia College Chicago. The course titled "The Simpsons as Satirical Authors" featured "Sideshow Bob Roberts" as one of the episodes screened for the "What's (Not) Wrong with America? Critiquing the U.S. Government" topic.
The following is a list of reference to Archie Comics in popular culture.Bill Oakley
William Lloyd Oakley (born February 27, 1966) is an American television writer and producer, known for his work on the animated comedy series The Simpsons. Oakley and Josh Weinstein became best friends and writing partners at high school; Oakley then attended Harvard University and was Vice President of the Harvard Lampoon. He worked on several short-term media projects, including writing for the variety show Sunday Best, but was then unemployed for a long period.
Oakley and Weinstein eventually penned a spec script for Seinfeld, after which they wrote "Marge Gets a Job", an episode of The Simpsons. Subsequently, the two were hired to write for the show on a permanent basis in 1992. After they wrote episodes such as "$pringfield (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling)", "Bart vs. Australia" and "Who Shot Mr. Burns?", the two were appointed executive producers and showrunners for the seventh and eighth seasons of the show. They attempted to include several emotional episodes focusing on the Simpson family, as well as several high-concept episodes such as "Homer's Enemy", "Two Bad Neighbors" and "The Principal and the Pauper", winning three Primetime Emmy Awards for their work.
After they left The Simpsons, Oakley and Weinstein created Mission Hill. The show was plagued by promotional issues and was swiftly canceled. They worked as consulting producers on Futurama, then created The Mullets in 2003. The two wrote several unsuccessful TV pilots, and were due to serve as showrunners on Sit Down, Shut Up in 2009. Oakley left the project over a contract dispute. He has since written for The Cleveland Show and Portlandia, without Weinstein. He also served as co-executive producer and writer on Portlandia, sharing a Writers Guild of America Award with his fellow writers in 2013. In 2018, Oakley reunited with Weinstein as co-executive producer on Disenchantment, Matt Groening's series for Netflix. Oakley is married to fellow writer Rachel Pulido.Josh Weinstein
Josh Weinstein (born May 5, 1966) is an American television writer and producer, known for his work on the animated comedy series The Simpsons. Weinstein and Bill Oakley became best friends and writing partners at St. Albans High School; Weinstein then attended Stanford University and was editor-in-chief of the Stanford Chaparral. He worked on several short-term media projects, including writing for the variety show Sunday Best, but was then unemployed for a long period.
Weinstein and Oakley eventually penned a spec script for Seinfeld, after which they wrote "Marge Gets a Job", an episode of The Simpsons. Subsequently, the two were hired to write for the show on a permanent basis in 1992. After they wrote episodes such as "$pringfield (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling)", "Bart vs. Australia" and "Who Shot Mr. Burns?", the two were appointed executive producers and showrunners for the seventh and eighth seasons of the show. They attempted to include several emotional episodes focusing on the Simpson family, as well as several high-concept episodes such as "Homer's Enemy", "Two Bad Neighbors" and "The Principal and the Pauper", winning three Primetime Emmy Awards for their work.
After they left The Simpsons, Oakley and Weinstein created Mission Hill. The show was plagued by promotional issues and was swiftly canceled, but in subsequent years has gone on to develop a cult following. They worked as consulting producers on Futurama, then created The Mullets in 2003. The two wrote several unsuccessful TV pilots, and were due to serve as showrunners on Sit Down, Shut Up in 2009. Oakley left the project over a contract dispute, but Weinstein remained until it was canceled. He co-produced and wrote for Futurama again during its Comedy Central revival, winning an Emmy in 2011. Since 2013, Weinstein has served as showrunner for the CBBC series Strange Hill High, and in 2015, Danger Mouse. He has also served as a writer for Season Two of Gravity Falls, co-writing nine of the season's episodes. In 2018, Weinstein co-developed the Netflix animated series Disenchantment with creator Matt Groening, of which he and Oakley are currently serving as co-showrunners. Weinstein is married to journalist Lisa Simmons.Lionel Hutz
Lionel Hutz is a fictional character in the American animated TV sitcom The Simpsons. He was voiced by Phil Hartman, and his first appearance was in the season two episode "Bart Gets Hit by a Car". Hutz is a stereotypical ambulance chasing lawyer in Springfield with questionable competence and ethics. He is nevertheless often hired by the Simpsons. Following Hartman's murder by the hands of his wife in 1998, Hutz was retired; and his final speaking role was in the season nine episode "Realty Bites" five months earlier.List of The Simpsons guest stars (seasons 1–20)
In addition to the show's regular cast of voice actors, celebrity guest stars have been a staple of The Simpsons, an American animated television sitcom created by Matt Groening for the Fox Broadcasting Company, since its first season. The Simpsons focuses on the eponymous family, which consists of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie. The family was initially conceived by Groening for a series of animated shorts, which originally aired as a part of The Tracey Ullman Show between 1987 and 1989. The shorts were developed into a half-hour prime time series which began in December 1989. The series' 29th season began in October 2017 and 662 episodes of The Simpsons have aired. A feature film adaptation of the series called The Simpsons Movie, was released in 2007.
Guest voices have come from a wide range of professions, including actors, athletes, authors, musicians, artists, politicians and scientists. In the show's early years most guest stars voiced original characters, but as the show has continued the number of those appearing as themselves has increased.
The first credited guest star was Marcia Wallace who appeared in "Bart the Genius" in her first stint as Bart's teacher Edna Krabappel. Singer Tony Bennett was the first guest star to appear as himself, appearing briefly in the season two episode "Dancin' Homer". Several guest stars have featured as recurring characters on the show, including Phil Hartman, Joe Mantegna and Kelsey Grammer. Hartman made the most appearances, guest starring 52 times. Grammer, Mantegna, Maurice LaMarche and Frank Welker have appeared twenty times or more; Jon Lovitz and Jackie Mason have appeared over ten times, while Albert Brooks, Glenn Close, Michael Dees, Dana Gould, Terry W. Greene, Valerie Harper, Jan Hooks, Jane Kaczmarek, Stacy Keach, Kipp Lennon, J. K. Simmons, Sally Stevens, George Takei and Michael York have made over five appearances.
Two guest stars, Ricky Gervais and Seth Rogen, earned writing credits for the episodes in which they appeared. Grammer, Mason and three-time guest star Anne Hathaway all won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance for guest voice roles on the show. The show was awarded the Guinness World Record for "Most Guest Stars Featured in a TV Series" in 2010. As of May 12, 2019, there have been 826 guest stars on the show[A], with this figure rising to 831 if The Simpsons Movie is included.Mark Kirkland
Mark Kirkland (born November 5, 1956) is an American animation director. He has directed 83 episodes of The Simpsons since 1990, more than any other director.Mayor Quimby
Mayor Joseph Fitzgerald O'Malley Fitzpatrick O'Donnell The Edge Quimby, nicknamed Diamond Joe, is a recurring character from the animated television series The Simpsons. He is voiced by Dan Castellaneta, and first appeared in the episode "Bart Gets an F". Quimby is the mayor of Springfield, and is a composite parody of U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy and certain other members of the Kennedy family who have entered politics.Meh
Meh () is an interjection used as an expression of indifference or boredom. It is often regarded as a verbal equivalent of a shrug of the shoulders. The use of the term "meh" shows that the speaker is apathetic, uninterested, or indifferent to the question or subject at hand. It is occasionally used as an adjective, meaning something is mediocre or unremarkable.Politics in The Simpsons
Politics is a common theme in the animated television series The Simpsons, and this phenomenon has had some crossover with real American politics. U.S. conservatives voiced opposition to the show early in its run, when it was still controversial for its crude humor and irreverent take on family values. Former U.S. President George H. W. Bush said that the U.S. needed to be closer to The Waltons than to The Simpsons. The show's admitted slant towards liberalism has been joked about in episodes such as "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular", in which a reference is made to "hundreds of radical right-wing messages inserted into every show by creator Matt Groening". More recently, however, conservative bloggers and commentators have enthusiastically promoted cultural memes from the series, such as Groundskeeper Willie's derisive term for the French, "cheese-eating surrender monkeys".Political topics addressed on The Simpsons include homophobia and gay marriage (in the episodes "Homer's Phobia" and "There's Something About Marrying"), immigration and border control (“Much Apu About Nothing,” “Midnight Rx”, “Coming to Homerica”), drug and alcohol abuse ("Brother's Little Helper", "Weekend at Burnsie's", "Smoke on the Daughter", "Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment", "Duffless", "E-I-E-I-(Annoyed Grunt)", and "Days of Wine and D'oh'ses"), gun rights ("The Cartridge Family"), environmental issues ("The Old Man and the Lisa", "Trash of the Titans", "Lisa the Tree Hugger", "The Wife Aquatic", "The Squirt and the Whale", in addition to being an important plot device in the feature-length film), election campaigns ("Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish", "Sideshow Bob Roberts", "Mr. Spritz Goes to Washington", "See Homer Run", "E Pluribus Wiggum", "Politically Inept, with Homer Simpson"), and corruption ("Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington").Richard Sakai
Richard Sakai (born January 28, 1954) is an American television and film producer. He is best known for his work on the animated sitcom The Simpsons, for which he is one of the original producers. In 1997, Sakai was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture for his work on the film Jerry Maguire (1996).Sakai began his career as an assistant to James L. Brooks in 1977. In 1984, Brooks invited Sakai to become a producer in his new film production company, Gracie Films. Sakai ultimately produced many of Brooks' films, such as Jerry Maguire, As Good as It Gets (1997), and Spanglish (2004). Sakai also produced Bottle Rocket (1996) and Riding in Cars with Boys (2001). Additionally, he was a producer for The Simpsons Movie (2007).
As a television producer and director, Sakai has worked on many different shows. He has directed episodes of Taxi, Newhart, and Who's the Boss?. He has also produced episodes of The Tracey Ullman Show, The Critic, Phenom, and What About Joan? in addition to his work on The Simpsons, for which he has won several Emmy Awards.
On The Simpsons, Sakai has been animated several times, most notably as: a karaoke singer in the episode "One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish"; an escaping prisoner in a commercial about "revolving door prisons" in "Sideshow Bob Roberts"; and a jazz vibraphone player in "Jazzy and the Pussycats".
Sakai is currently president of Gracie Films.Riverdale (Archie Comics)
Riverdale is the fictional town where most of the characters appear in Archie Comics. Conflicting details on its geographic location have been given over the years. In the television series Riverdale, it is located near the fictional town of Greendale.Sideshow Bob
Robert Underdunk Terwilliger Jr., PhD, better known as Sideshow Bob, is a recurring character in the animated television series The Simpsons. He is voiced by Kelsey Grammer and first appeared briefly in the episode "The Telltale Head". Bob is a self-proclaimed genius who is a graduate of Yale University, a member of the Republican Party, and a champion of high culture. He began his career as a sidekick on Krusty the Clown's television show, but after enduring constant abuse, Bob attempted to frame his employer for armed robbery in "Krusty Gets Busted". The plan was foiled by his arch-enemy, Bart Simpson, and Sideshow Bob was sent to prison.
Bob made his second major appearance in season three's "Black Widower"; the writers echoed the premise of the Coyote chasing the Road Runner by having Bob unexpectedly insert himself into Bart's life, threatening to disrupt – and sometimes end – it. In each appearance thereafter, Bob has assumed the role on The Simpsons of an evil genius. Episodes in which he is a central character typically involve Sideshow Bob being released from prison and executing an elaborate revenge plan, usually foiled by Bart and Lisa. His plans often involve murder and destruction, usually targeted at Bart or, less often, Krusty, though these plans often involve targeting the entire Simpson family. In 2015, however, during the "Treehouse of Horror" segment, "Wanted: Dead, Then Alive", Bob finally gets his wish of killing Bart, commenting that he spent 24 years trying to kill a ten-year-old child; however, he becomes bored with Bart dead, so he brings him back to life so that he can repeatedly kill Bart over and over again.Sideshow Bob shares some personality traits of Grammer's character Frasier Crane from the sitcoms Cheers and Frasier, and has been described as "Frasier pickled in arsenic". Several parallels have been explicitly drawn in The Simpsons between Bob and Frasier Crane – Bob's brother Cecil and his father were played by David Hyde Pierce and John Mahoney respectively, echoing the roles they played in Frasier. Grammer, who based Bob's voice on that of actor Ellis Rabb, has been praised for his portrayals of the character. In 2006, he won an Emmy for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance for his work in the episode "The Italian Bob".
As of December 2017, Bob has had speaking appearances in 20 episodes and been featured in 13; the most recent of the latter, "Gone Boy", aired during the 29th season. In addition to his recurring role in the series, Sideshow Bob has made several appearances in other Simpsons media. He appears in the Simpsons Comics, cameos in the 2007 video game The Simpsons Game, and stars as the main antagonist in The Simpsons Ride at Universal Studios' theme parks. A lover of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, Sideshow Bob is also known for his singing voice; several of Grammer's performances have been included in The Simpsons musical compilations.The Great Simpsina
"The Great Simpsina" is the eighteenth episode of The Simpsons' twenty-second season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on April 10, 2011. It was written by Matt Warburton and directed by Chris Clements. It is the first episode to have no opening sequence. Following its broadcast, the episode received mixed reviews from critics.