Simpsons Executive Producer Matt Selman on the Show’s Upcoming Foodie Episode
This Sunday, The Simpsons will air an episode devoted to food (and, more specifically, devoted to food blogs). We didn't want to spoil the episode, but we did want to know more, so we tracked down Matt Selman, a Simpsons executive producer, and the writer of this episode. "I just wanted to put things in the show that only really hard-core foodies would have any idea what we were talking about," Selman told us. "This was like a love letter to foodie culture." That means shout-outs to Wylie Dufresne, Frank Bruni, and Ruth Reichl; sriracha and sous-vide jokes; and, of course, an Anthony Bourdain cameo. "I really wanted Tony Bourdain, because I’m a huge fan," says Selman. "I think he’s funny, and I think Marge would also like him." Keep reading for more thoughts on the episode, plenty of exclusive artwork in our slideshow, and a preview of the show's food-rap, care of Tim and Eric.
Thanks for talking. The food episode is finally airing in a couple of weeks.
Gonna air soon! This Sunday.
Your episodes take a long time to come together. You must have written this a while ago.
We started writing it, like, last September.
What was the inspiration? How did it come about to do a food blog episode?
I guess you could say that I'm always thinking about food, and I'm sort of a foodie — I don't love the word foodie, but a greedy? Would that be the word for it?
It's just a world that I always thought was funny and fascinating. The idea of food as not only something you enjoy eating, but as something that you are so passionate about that you're kind of bragging about it. "I'm the one who discovered this particular Korean pork-neck soup restaurant," and you can kind of claim that as yours. The blogging just feeds into that kind of territorial element that I always thought was inherently funny.
And when I write Simpsons episodes, I try to start with a world I think is funny, and think, What's a good story we can tell in that world, using the characters that we have?
So, in the episode, Marge becomes a food blogger?
The story of "Marge becomes a food blogger" does not sound inherently exciting, but the episode itself is actually very exciting, and I'm super thrilled with the way it's turned out.
One of the things I also think is strong about this is that you might think, "Oh, a Simpsons foodie episode? Well, of course it's gonna be Homer the foodie." Right? Homer loves to eat, Homer loves food. But I think the core of Homer is that he's kind of a blue-collar kind of guy who doesn't like foreign food, weird food, savoring food, intellectualizing food, blogging about it, photographing it — he just wants to be stuffed all the time.
He doesn't want to savor it, he just wants to consume it.
Yeah. He's like, "Why are you guys going all over the place for these crazy restaurants when you could just be home stuffing your face?" He just wants pizza and fast food, as opposed to eating broth-squirting dumpling, and — what's the line? — "pixie wangs and deep-fried walrus mustaches." That's his take on it.
There's one awesome twist that I'm not gonna give away. I'll just say the Simpsons end up going to a molecular gastronomy restaurant — Homer goes somewhere else — and the thematic convergence between the two is delightful.
That can be your headline: "Writer Thinks Thing He Did Is Good."
What kinds of insider food jokes should people be on the lookout for?
The show guest-stars these great comic sketch actors, Tim and Eric, from Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job. I'm a huge fan of those guys. They're some of the foodies Marge and the kids start hanging out with, and they're a little snobby, a little boastful about their foodie accomplishments.
In animated TV shows, whenever you're trying to show people having fun doing their new thing, it just kind of becomes a boring montage. And we've done so many montages on The Simpsons over 25 years, it's like, oh God, no more montages. Anything that we can do instead of a montage that accomplishes "people are learning and doing something together and having fun with it." So we were like, "Why not do a silly rap song?" Rapping is sort of inherently boastful, and there's something about being a foodie that's inherently boastful. So it's like the boastfulness links those things.
So Tim and Eric perform a food rap song in the show — an extremely silly rap song, and the name is intentionally silly: "Blogging a Food Blog."
It's sort of vaguely based on "Empire State of Mind" as our starting-off point. I just wanted to be shamelessly goofy with this. These are the lyrics — I'm very self-conscious reading them out loud.
I'm throwing down mad foodie game, knowing all the chefs' names
Rolling into K-Town for beepin' boppin' bulgogi
The hotties I chill with are sriracha and kimchee
So it's all bragging about how awesome and cool you are as a foodie.
Housemade terrines, my ducks are always confit
I braise with a billion more BTUs than I need
I cook a Thanksgiving turkey in a trash-bag, sous vide
Afumatoare in Brindisi Fed-Exes me salami
Don't scoop me gelato unless it's got umami
And then it gets really insane, are you ready?
I'll be "Frank" like Bruni, "Ruthless" like Reichl
"Wiley" like Dufresne, and when I take the mike, I'll
Rhyme about radicchio, criticize Colicchio
Every pub is gastro, and all my beef carpaccio
I mean, that's really goofy.
Did you see South Park's food episode?
I had a small heart attack when that episode aired. This episode was like, a third of the way done when that episode aired, and someone said, "Hey, did you see South Park tonight? It's all about foodies." And I freaked out. I was so nervous, ’cause I'm like, I'm proud of this episode, if I may flatter myself and flatter the team. I feel like the twist at the end of this episode is, I hope, South Park–worthy. South Park is such a sharp show, and they have such a funny, interesting take on stuff. I was thinking, What if they do the same thing? But that show is great, that episode is fantastically funny, and luckily I felt it was different enough that I didn't have to kill myself.