After seeing an ad for a hair growth chemical, Homer wants in. A little insurance fraud later, he gets it and soon has a full head of hair. Thanks to his new hair, Homer receives a token promotion. He hires a man named Karl (not his friend Carl) as his assistant and climbs the corporate ladder, making Smithers jealous. Smithers seeks to bring Homer down and after an investigation, discovers the insurance fraud. Right before Smithers fires him, Karl claims responsibility and is fired instead.
Without Karl, Homer starts to panic. Things go from bad to worse when Bart spills the remaining hair growth chemical. The next day, Homer is back to his bald self and has to give a big speech. Karl visits to say goodbye and give him one last bit of encouragement. While Homer’s speech is excellent (thanks to Karl), no one listens to him because he is bald and he is demoted back to his old job. At home, Marge comforts Homer about it and reaffirms her love for him.
Before popular figures like Walter White and Vin Diesel made the chrome dome cool among the general public, being bald was a joke. It’s easy to forget but in the 90’s, commercials for hair-loss treatments such as Hair Club for Men were very popular.
Harvey Fierstein guest stars as Karl and I love his character. While he’s supposed to be Homer’s assistant, Karl is more like a guardian angel. He saves Homer from having a flirty secretary, he helps Homer dress for the job, and in the end he sacrifices his employment for Homer. Additionally, I don’t think I need to discuss how great Harvey’s voice is.
Mr. Burns’ revelation about his struggles with male pattern baldness was one of the examples of what made the show great. The Simpson family could have been the only ones explored and built on emotionally, but the show’s team gave the most evil character a moment of sympathy. It’s easy for a show to have likeable “good guys” but when viewers can sympathize with the unlikeable characters, it is a testament to the talent of the writers and actors.
As a whole, I feel like this episode isn’t about hair but about “that one thing.” You know, the one thing you believe will make your life better. Everyone has some version of the thing: cars, clothes, a house, etc. As you watch the episode, you don’t realize it but Homer has a great life. He has a supportive wife, three children, good friends, and a roof over his head. It’s only after losing his “one thing” that he realizes that he is indeed a fortunate man.
I’m Andrew Semkow, and Welcome To Springfield.