Satire is traditionally the weapon of the powerless against the powerful, said Molly Ivins, a journalist, and political commentator. The great Mark Twain taught us that satire is best used to expose society’s vices, in effect pushing for change and improvement.
When the Simpsons ran an episode titled “Home Sweet Headedly-Dum-Dowdily,” the plot of the episode was more than the parents trying to regain custody of their children, but rather a bigger systematic critique of the Department of Children and Families and how it routinely abuses its power.
The episode starts off with the mother, Marge, preparing the breakfast for the kids. Everything she does is on time and done in an orderly way. It’s clear she’s an A-plus mom, always going above and beyond to help her kids, even helping her daughter, Lisa, track down dozens of old newspapers for her history project. “Wow mom! You didn’t have to go to this much trouble,” says Lisa. Because it’s class picture day, Marge made sure Bart wore a tie and a button-down shirt. She finishes preparing the kids lunch and off they go to school.
The day starts like any other day, yet things suddenly change when Homer, the father, surprises Marge with a gift certificate for a relaxing time at a spa. At first, Marge insists she can’t because the house needs to be cleaned, yet Homer manages to convince her to clean it later, insisting she needs to finally take a break from all her hard work as a mother.
At school the principle notices Bart has lice. “What kind of parents would permit such a lapse in scalpel hygiene?” he says. During recess time, Lisa gets bullied by her classmates for also having lice. Her shoes are taken and thrown on a power line. A group of girls point and laugh at Lisa as she stands barefoot on a puddle of mud. She’s then called back inside for a lice inspection, and while walking back inside she is hit in the face by a soccer ball, causing her to have a swollen tongue and speak with a lisp.
Seeing the condition that both Bart and Lisa are in, the principle instantly phones DCF. “Sweet Georgia brown, something is rotten at the Simpsons house!” he screams. Not knowing what actually led to the children’s mishappenings, the principle believes the parents are at fault.
After the principle makes the call to DCF, the next scene shown are two ruthless looking DCF investigators driving as fast as possible to the Simpsons home, all the while Homer and Marge are relaxing at a spa, finally taking a break from all their hard work as parents, and for the first time leaving a mess at the house, with Homer’s dad taking care of the youngest child, Maggie.
In a way, this scene also resembles reality – DCF catches many parents unprepared. They prefer to go in your home when you’re not expecting them, instead of defending yourself by always having a lawyer present when bringing DCF in your home.
The DCF agents simply walk in the home. Seeing all the dirty dishes, trash not taken out, and stacks of old newspapers from 20 years ago, they immediately begin to suspect the worst, of course not realizing that the mother got those newspapers for Lisa’s history project, or that the parents decided to abruptly leave the house to take a small break from all of the Mother’s hard work. This break was extremely rare circumstance for the parents.
The grandpa is seen sleeping on the couch with a plate of food on him. The family’s cat is seen eating off of the grandfather’s plate. The cat is startled by the DCF agents. Then you see the cat jumping off of the grandfather, causing all the food to fall all over the grandparent.
“Malnourished man found sleeping in his own filth seems confused and dehydrated,” states the DCF worker for his voice recorder.
Although the Simpson’s have no clue that DCF was going to show up at their home for an investigation, being prepared is the most important thing you should know when dealing with DCF. This means having a clean tidy house and wearing semi-formal attire when they are showing up to your home for a scheduled visit. If you’re not prepared, you are giving DCF a leeway to misrepresent the truth. The truth is that Marge Homer have always been good parents, but according to DCF, all the mess says a different story.
Bart and Lisa walk in from school in a dirty abnormal condition. Being bullied in school, Lisa is seen without shoes, and Bart has paper bags over him because the school made him throw away his clothes due to lice. In shock, the DCF agent asks the children where their parents are. Lisa responds by saying she doesn’t know, as she is unaware that her parents decided to go to the spa for the day and leave their grandpa to take care of the house. Here’s the biggest mistake the Simpsons made – allowing their children to talk to DCF alone. They make themselves look like bad parents when Lisa tells the DCF agent she doesn’t know where her parents are. I have seen so many parents make this mistake of leaving their kids alone to talk to DCF.
Marge and Homer then walk in the house feeling and looking extremely relaxed from the spa. “It’s like I’m on some wonderful drug,” Marge says, not knowing that the DCF agents are in her house and just heard her remarks. “What’s going on here?” Marge says as soon as she sees the agents in her home. “Here’s a little bedtime reading,” says the agent as she hands her their assessment report. “Squalid hell hole, toilet paper hung in improper overhand fashion, dogs mating on the dining room table,” the report reads.
The satire in this instance is quite apparent, the producers are highlighting DCF’s vested interest in taking more and more kids, even if it means separating good loving parents with no substantial evidence, as is the case with the Simpsons. This could mean adhering to DCF’s perfectionist’s conditions, or simply ridiculous demands, like driving during a dangerous winter storm to take a drug test, just because the DCF agent tells you that you have to go that day, this is what happened to one of my clients. Thankfully, she called me before and I told her she did not have to leave. Yet like most parents without lawyers, Marge and Homer are clueless of what they should do.
“What are you doing with my children!” Marge screams hysterically as she tries to prevent her kids from being taken. “We’re taking them where you can’t get them,” the agent replies in a condescending manner, completely inconsiderate the harm she’s causing. “Restrain yourself or you’ll be arrested,” says the DCF agent to Marge.
The kids are then thrown in the back of what looks like a police truck. The scene is reminiscent of criminals getting arrested and forced in the back of a police van to be driven to jail.
The DCF agent turns back at the kids with an evil look as scary music plays in the background. “Now relax kids, I’ll we’re doing is taking you to a….Foster Home.” The kids scream in fear. “You don’t understand, mom and dad take good care of us,” begs Lisa.
At the end of the episode, Homer and Marge end up getting their kids back, yet cartoons are not always reality, a happy ending is vital for every episode, in life that’s not the case. Countless parents lose custody of their children. This is not because they were bad parents, as DCF would argue, it’s because they were simply unprepared. Some parents do not hire an experienced, trustworthy lawyer who specializes in DCF cases.
Kevin Seaver is an experienced, trusted lawyer who successfully represents clients against DCF from Boston, Massachusetts. Call Kevin at (617) 263-2633 or request a Free Consultation online!