I always feel a lot of pressure when I get to review a classic Simpsons episode for The AV Club, but this one made me sweat like a gay steelworker carrying a cauldron of molten steel. Nearly twenty years ago, this episode freaked people out. I was there. Apart from having John Waters deliver one of the best, most singular guest roles ever on the show, this episode has balls, even now. It also finds the almost impossible balance between making its points and being goddamned hilarious. I hope I did it justice.
From the thing:
While not the thoroughly disreputable figure he was when he was hanging with Divine, the 1997 John Waters was hardly palatable to the show’s popular audience (or the segment of the show’s audience who knew who he was). In the episode’s commentary, the writers claim that Waters was their inspiration and only choice for the role, and Waters turns in what is easily one of the most uniquely memorable guest performances in the show’s history. Partly that’s just Waters—his droll, twinkly delivery is what continues to make him such an entertaining raconteur. (His one-man Christmas show a few years ago was adorably filthy, if that’s a thing.) Also from the DVD commentary, Waters claims that he was delighted and surprised how well the (presumably straight) writers had crafted his character (he only objected to a joke about John not getting along with his dad, calling the idea too stereotypical). He’s not wrong, as the animated John (a masterfully designed approximation of the real, dapper Waters) could have gone wrong in a myriad ways. The key to the character, apart from how effortlessly he channels Waters’ droll humor, is how formidably unapologetic he is.
The whole review can be found here. Again—hope I conveyed how great it was and is.