“The Simpsons” returns for its 34th season on Sunday with an episode loosely inspired by the Netflix docuseries “Don’t F**k with Cats.” Variety has a first look at the episode; scroll down to watch!
That series, which won an Emmy in 2020 for outstanding writing for a nonfiction program, centered on a group of amateur internet sleuths who launch a manhunt to find a suspect accused of animal cruelty — and worse. In “The Simpsons” premiere, “Habeus Tortoise,” Homer visits the zoo and discovers that its 150-year-old tortoise has gone missing. He then becomes part of an internet group determined to find the truth behind the animal’s disappearance.
“It’s about how about internet sleuths and how people find community in internet causes and mysteries,” said “The Simpsons” executive producer Matt Selman. “Homer is feeling kind of stupid and dumb after humiliating himself. He goes to the zoo to cheer himself up, but his beloved turtle is missing. And so he joins this internet group of ‘Don’t F— With Xats’ style cyber sleuths to try to track down the turtle. This well-intentioned group of internet cyber sleuths go down a conspiracy rabbit hole to the point where the group is now more about wanting there to be a mystery than actually solving the mystery.”
Also, Selman added, “It certainly has a lot of references and easter eggs to current conspiracy theories. And there’s a lot of paella in it… the community building power of paella is amazing.” Broti Gupta is the credited writer for the episode, while Matthew Faughnan is director.
Among episodes coming up: Marge has a crush on her Peloton instructor, causing Homer to get jealous. In the episode “Step Brother from the Same Planet,” Melissa McCarthy voices Homer’s stepbrother, who quickly becomes his rival. And in another episode, Marge becomes a segment producer on a daytime talk show hosted by Krusty the Clown.
“She realizes the costs are to put out a nice show every day,” Selman said. “Behind the scenes of a Krusty version of the ‘Ellen’ show, it’s unbelievably toxic. The pressure to churn out that much nice is a heavy toll on Marge’s soul.”
Drew Barrymore guest stars in that episode. “We’ll hopefully have Marge make an appearance on ‘The Drew Barrymore Show’ to promote it somehow,” he said.
In the episode “When Nelson Met Lisa,” inspired by “When Harry Met Sally,” guest star Simu Liu will make an appearance. Another episode satirizes the world of Roblox (“Game Done Changed”). Homer teaches Duff Man on how to be a better father in another episode (“From Beer to Paternity”), and there’s a hockey-themed episode with Moe and Nelson at the center.
“Then there’s the one where we reveal the secret of ‘The Simpsons’ predictions of course, which we’ve just done a very silly way,” Selman added.
But the centerpiece of the fall will be a double dose of “Treehouse of Horror” episodes, marking the first time in the show’s history there have been two spooky episodes in a single Halloween.
One of this fall’s two Halloween episodes will be a full-length parody of “It,” with Krusty playing evil clown Pennywise. The traditional installment, “Treehouse of Horror XXXIII,” features a segment that Selman described as “a super love letter to classic ‘Simpsons.’”
James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Al Jean and Matt Selman are EPs of “The Simpsons.” The season premiere airs Sunday, Sept. 25, at 8 p.n. ET on Fox; watch a first look below: