One of the freakiest storytelling tropes in any genres, but most beloved of the sci-fi one in particular, is when one central character begins to suspect little bit by little bit, nagging clue by nagging clue that the reality they inhabit is not the real one.
Of course they’re derided by everyone around them as being one sandwich short of a picnic, a little gaga, in need of rest/drugs/a holiday but despite every effort they make to push their sneaking suspicions down where the psychosis don’t shine, they can’t shake the feeling that things … just … aren’t … right.
We’ve seen it used to brilliant effect in shows like Stargate SG1, Falling Skies and even Revolution, which manage to wrap several false realities into one compelling made-up narrative, and now hot on the heels of The LEGO Movie, which gave us all sorts of brilliantly-coloured realities, comes the 550th episode of The Simpsons in which Homer wakes up to find everything has gone to the bricks.
And he, for once, is the only one who knows it.
Or at least thinks he does … or … poor Homer is easily confused and it takes a little while for him to connect the dots, while using his pop-on head for a football along the way, to work out that things are not at all what they seem as executive producer Matt Selman told Entertainment Weekly:
“We thought it was cool to start off in the world of Lego and have all the characters think that this was their normal life. Then through a series of bizarre flashbacks, Homer starts to suspect that the Lego world isn’t where he belongs. So he starts tearing away at the fabric of what he thinks is reality, which is never a great idea.”
The episode, entitled “Brick Like Me”, is the culmination of a partnership with LEGO which will see the Simpsons house and characters available in LEGO form.
And it’s clear that The Simpsons production team had a ball getting everything right down to a whole host of background jokes, and yes a LEGO sex scene between Marge and Homer, for the episode as Matt Selman explains again to Entertainment Weekly:
“So we did way more obsessing about the rules of the Lego world versus the rules of the real world. But for the sake of this episode, we have to believe that the Simpsons live in the real world — at least they believe they do. And when they’re in the Lego world, there are different rules. So, a lot of jokes, we were like, “Oh, that’s funny, but it doesn’t make sense because they don’t have fire.” When your readers see the episode, they’ll see why we put so much work into that.”
It’s good to see The Simpsons are still willing to push the creative envelope and it’s going to be fun watching Homer, slowly but surely work out that while he may be a psychological block-head, that he isn’t a real one.
“Brick Like Me” airs in the USA on Fox on Sunday 4 May, 8pm.