Nov 21 2011 3:15pm

Neil Gaiman Doesn’t Know How to Read

Last night, The Simpsons gave SFF readers and long-ago fans a reason to try and remember that The Simpsons is still on television — maybe still on Sundays, who knows — with an episode focused on young adult book mills featuring Neil Gaiman.

If you caught the episode, you may have been surprised by a few things:

  1. Gaiman is featured heavily throughout.
  2. It was really funny.
  3. No, seriously, it was consistently sharp and clever all throughout the episode.

The episode goes after young adult book mills, specifically inspired by this New Yorker article about Alloy Entertainment, by having Homer and Bart form a team to write and package a book series. (Neil Gaiman is there to get lunch... at first.) The commentary is fast-paced and accurate to the point of sadness. Dogs “writing” bestsellers, books being changed to involve vampires, getting distracted from writing by watching Friday Night Lights, and a closing line to the packaged book that actually makes you want to read it....

There are some great one-off lines, as well. Some of our favorites:

  • Homer: “I just hope we remembered to put in enough steampunk. Whatever that is.”
  • Neil Gaiman: “I’ve heisted my way to the bestseller list once again. And the most brilliant part is... I don’t even know how to read!”
  • One of the parody book titles in the episode, proving that no book is safe, young adult, genre or no: Cloud Atlas 2: Cumulus Rising

Gaiman’s appearance, the melding of book publishing with Ocean’s Eleven, and the sharp jokes, delivered an episode of a quality that The Simpsons has struggled to re-obtain for, let’s see, 23 seasons... over a decade now? Gaiman + funny Simpsons is a rare animal indeed. Did any of you happen to catch it?

(The episode will be available here on Hulu next Monday. The Onion’s AV Club has a full review packed with quotes and parody titles.)

Chris Lough is the production manager of and gets his ideas from every movie ever made.

Sleeping Hedgehog
1. Sleeping Hedgehog
Neil is a fantastic reader as I can testify as I'm listening to him reading his Neverwhere novel right now and its quite possibly the best syorytelling experience I've ever had!
William Frank
2. scifantasy
I really did not expect to enjoy the episode as much as I did. Going into the first commercial, I thought the best joke was about dinosaurs and I didn't like the whole "Lisa gets disillusioned by finding out her favorite books are manufactured" thing.

Then, as soon as we got the brilliant Ocean's Eleven setup, I couldn't stop laughing.

And when Lisa turned into basically every NaNoWriMo participant ever (seriously, "only 2,000 words a day" made that crystal clear)...

I haven't watched The Simpsons in years, but I'm glad I watched this one.
Sleeping Hedgehog
3. Angela G
I think it was the first time in a long while that I've watched an episode of the Simpsons and actually laughed, really laughed, more than once. It was brillant, even more so for Lisa's being distracted from writing. During those scenes my husband pointedly turned to me and asked if that's how writing really was, and my reply was that I'd work on my Nano Novel just as soon as I finished my facebook game. ;)
Ashe Armstrong
4. AsheSaoirse
I definitely watched and Neil was the only reason I gave a damn. There was one joke that didn't evne hit me til a little bit after the episode had ended. Andy Garcia's character says something like, "If you don't want your words changed, write a screenplay." DAMN that is a sharp comment. I started laughing outloud to myself when I realized that had been said (there were so many zingers they were hard to register all at once).

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