Couch gags play an instrumental role in each episode of The Simpsons, and this Sunday’s episode is one of the most ambitious in the show’s 31-season history.
The new couch gag is a nod to the situation people around the world currently find themselves in: stuck at home and looking for any kind of entertainment to pass the time. For The Simpson family, that means using VR headsets to go on a series of different adventures around Springfield. Homer is flying a plane, Marge is surfing, Bart is snowboarding down a mountain, Lisa is swimming with whales, and Maggie is riding her tricycle through the empty streets of their hometown.
Easily the most notable aspect of the short is the animation style. This isn’t the fuzzy, warm cartoon that Simpsons fans know and love; these drawings are sharper, more angular, and more abstract. Partnered with a funky beat that plays while the various family members go about their missions, it’s one of The Simpsons’ best couch gags ever.
The actual episode will have less to do with the current pandemic. Instead, the episode will see Maggie reunited with baby Hudson — a new character that premiered in Playdate with Destiny, the short that ran before Pixar’s Onward in theaters and is now streaming on Disney Plus. In order to understand some of the references being made, it seems like people will have to make sure they watch that short first.
Ah, corporate synergy. This isn’t the first time that The Simpsons and other parts of Disney’s verticals have crossed over. The Simpsons did an entire episode parodying Avengers: Endgame, which included guest voice acting spots from Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo. The long-running comedy is one of the most important assets Disney acquired when it purchased 21st Century Fox — making the crossovers understandable, if slightly frustrating.