|"Trash of the Titans"|
|The Simpsons episode|
|Episode no.||Season 9|
|Directed by||Jim Reardon|
|Written by||Ian Maxtone-Graham|
|Original air date||April 26, 1998|
|Couch gag||The family appear in Edna Krabappel's classroom, where Bart is writing on the blackboard: "I will not mess with the opening credits".|
"Trash of the Titans" is the 22nd episode of The Simpsons' ninth season. The 200th episode of the series overall, it originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on April 26, 1998. The episode, which was written by Ian Maxtone-Graham and directed by Jim Reardon, sees Homer Simpson run for the job of Springfield's Sanitation Commissioner. Steve Martin guest stars as Ray Patterson, the incumbent commissioner, while U2 play themselves after requesting an appearance on the show.
Inspired by a friend's experience in politics, Maxtone-Graham decided to have Homer run for Sanitation Commissioner, although one draft of the episode saw him running for mayor. The staff also wanted the episode to be about trash, and created the concept of "Love Day" as a means of generating waste. The episode's resolution was discussed extensively by the staff, with one proposed idea being that Springfield would be raised up and the excess rubbish swept underneath it. The episode also features a parody of the song "The Candy Man" and an incident involving comedian Redd Foxx.
"Trash of the Titans" won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming One Hour or Less), something the staff believe was due to the environmental message at the end. Over 10 years after the original broadcast, an airing of the episode in the United Kingdom courted controversy when it was aired on Channel 4 in April 2008 before the 9pm watershed, with the word "wanker" left unedited.
A local department store announces the formation of a new August holiday called Love Day intended to boost sales. The Simpsons celebrate it, but the vast amount of packaging it produces causes the garbage to build up. When Homer takes it out, he fails to make it to the curb in time. As the garbage men drive away without collecting his trash, Homer angrily shouts insults at them, causing a fight that leads to the family's garbage service being cut off. Garbage gradually piles up on their front lawn and despite Marge's pleas, Homer refuses to apologize to the garbage men.
Homer awakens one morning to find the pile of trash gone and believes he has beaten City Hall, only to learn that Marge wrote a letter of apology to the Springfield Sanitation Commissioner Ray Patterson, forging Homer's name. Homer sees the commissioner, demanding the letter be returned. Patterson does so and tries to be civil with Homer, but Homer insists he will fight the department and decides to run for Commissioner.
Homer's campaign starts badly with him being beaten up after interrupting U2's PopMart Tour concert, but picks up when he thinks of a slogan: "Can't someone else do it?" Homer spreads his message to the town and promises expensive services such as round-the-clock garbage service and sanitation workers doing all possible cleaning, leading to his landslide victory in the election. After being sworn in, he shows his plans by singing a parody of "The Candy Man" entitled "The Garbage Man."
However, fulfilling these promises proves costly and Mayor Quimby denounces Homer for spending the department's yearly budget in only a month. Homer gets cities all over the United States to pay him to store their excess garbage in an abandoned mine shaft on the outskirts of Springfield. Despite the budget crisis having ended and the workers receiving their salaries as promised, the garbage builds up underground and eventually erupts, pouring trash all over the town. At a town hall meeting, Homer is fired from his post and replaced with Ray Patterson, who declines reinstatement. With no other options left, Quimby moves the entire town five miles down the road.
The production team wanted the episode to be about trash, and show runner Mike Scully pitched the idea that Homer should run for office. Writer Ian Maxtone-Graham had a friend who had made their way in Chicago politics, through the Sanitation Commission, and so he decided that Homer should run for Sanitation Commissioner. They then spent a lot of time trying to get to the point that Homer would have an "over-filled trash can," and through its extensive use of packaging, the concept of Love Day was formed. Originally the episode saw Homer running for mayor, but this idea was abandoned. The ending was talked about for a while, with the original idea being that the whole town would be raised up and the rubbish be swept underneath. The ending was not intended to carry an environmental message, but it played well and is what the staff believe won the episode an Emmy.
U2 contacted the show about doing a guest spot, rather than the other way around. The writers immediately wrote them one, in case they changed their minds. They recorded their lines for the episode in October 1997. The band's head of Principal Management Paul McGuinness and Susie Smith, an employee of Principal Management, also make brief appearances in the episode. U2's drummer Larry Mullen, Jr. appears in the episode, although he has no dialogue. Steve Martin guest stars as Ray Patterson.
The episode marked the first appearance of Costington's department store, whose slogan is "Over a Century Without a Slogan." It took "a lot of wasted man-hours" to come up with both the name and slogan.
The scene where Ray Patterson is reinstated (to which he enters and exits to the Sanford and Son theme song) was a reference to a moment that occurred during a stand up show of comedian Redd Foxx (who starred on Sanford and Son). During a show in Vegas, Redd Foxx came on stage to the Sanford and Son theme song, only to find that there were very few people in the audience. Foxx angrily stated that he refused to do a show with such a small audience and walked off the stage. The house orchestra, puzzled by Foxx's leaving, simply played him off with the Sanford and Son theme song again. The same incident was the basis for a joke in "The Two Mrs. Nahasapeemapetilons," where Moe Szyslak walks onto the stage and, without breaking stride, walks off.
In its original broadcast, "Trash of the Titans" finished 16th in ratings for the week of April 20–26, 1998, with a Nielsen rating of 10.5, equivalent to approximately 10.2 million viewing households. It was the highest-rated show on the Fox network that week, beating King of the Hill.
This episode won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming One Hour or Less) in 1998. Jim Reardon won the Annie Award for "Outstanding Individual Achievement for Directing in an Animated Television Production". The authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, said: "Although not a great episode, this one has a series of high points that keep you amused until the end." In a 2006 article in USA Today, "Trash of the Titans" was highlighted among the six best episodes of The Simpsons season nine, along with "The Joy of Sect," "The Last Temptation of Krust," "The Cartridge Family," "Dumbbell Indemnity," and "Das Bus."
During Toronto City Council deliberations over the proposal to turn the abandoned Adams Mine in Northern Ontario into a massive dump site for Toronto's garbage, then-councillors Jack Layton and Olivia Chow surprised their council colleagues by playing "Trash of the Titans." "It was absolutely stunning," Layton later told The Globe and Mail. "It was so accurate to what was going on." Layton, who would later become leader of Canada's New Democratic Party and Leader of the Official Opposition, called The Simpsons "the single most important influence on progressive social commentary in the world."
In 2016, the episode received a new wave of commentary from observers of the US presidential election, who compared Homer's campaign to that of President Donald Trump. Stephen Sander wrote, "Homer makes crazy promises, and panders to the lowest common denominator in the citizens of Springfield, telling everyone what they want to hear in order to win. And he does win."
In 2008, the episode caused controversy in the United Kingdom, for use of the word "wanker." The word is first used by Adam Clayton, and later by Mr. Burns, at the end of the episode. While the word is not well known in the United States, where it generally means a self-indulgent person, it is considered offensive in the United Kingdom, where it is a slang term for one who engages in masturbation.
On April 15, 2008, "Trash of the Titans" was broadcast on Channel 4 at 6pm, with both mentions of the word broadcast. Ofcom, which deals with television complaints in the United Kingdom, received 31 complaints from viewers who felt that the episode should not have been shown before the 9pm watershed. Channel 4 said that the error was caused by a member of the compliance staff, who had incorrectly certified the program as suitable to be shown from 6pm. The error was not corrected by the acquisitions department. Ofcom said that while they were "concerned," it would not look into the incident any further because it was "an isolated incident."
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