Tudum, meet Tud’oh! “The Simpsons” has gone “Simpflix” with the two-part episode “A Serious Flanders,” which executive producer Matt Selman calls a “dark, twisted ‘Fargo’ story.” Variety has an exclusive on the trailer that writer Cesar Mazariegos cut for the event; scroll down to watch.
According to Selman, “A Serious Flanders” was inspired by the TV adaptation of “Fargo,” which he finally caught up on. That, and the continued rise of prestige premium drama on cable and streaming, let to the idea of how “The Simpsons” might parody the space.
Mazariegos wrote the two-parter, which even relies on guest voices from that world: “Succession” star Brian Cox guest stars in “A Serious Flanders,” along with Cristin Milioti (“Fargo”), Timothy Olyphant (“Deadwood”), Chris O’Dowd (“Get Shorty”) and Jessica Paré (“Mad Men”).
“We wanted to do all the tricks that these cool streaming shows get to do: Flashbacks, crazy time jumps, the feeling that anyone might die,” Selman said. “It’s all the tricks of the trade, for a semi-pretentious but also very cool kind of story. We have scenes that build tension or make fun of the idea of building tension.”
Part one of “A Serious Flanders,” which airs on November 7, features this logline: “When a ruthless debt collector comes to Springfield, Homer and Ned’s lives are sucked into the artfully violent world of prestige TV.”
And for “A Serious Flanders (Part Two),” which airs November 14, here’s the description: “Uff-da! Things for Ned and Homer go from bad to gosh-darn worse in the stunning conclusion of this SIMPFLIX prestige crime thriller.”
Selman said it was necessary to spread “A Serious Flanders” into two episodes in order to play with the pace of prestige TV. “There’s no way we can do it in one show,” he said. “We wanted the scenes to play out in a different pace, the tone and stresses. To fit that into one episode, it wouldn’t work. Most ‘Simpsons’ episodes are paced much more quickly than a streaming drama.”
Among the guest cast, Cox plays “Kostas Becker,” Milioti is “Barb,” Paré is “Collette,” Olyphant is “Sheriff Flanders,” O’Dowd is “Seamus.”
“A Serious Flanders (Part 1)” is written by Mazariegos and directed by Debbie Bruce Mahan; “A Serious Flanders (Part 2)” is writen by Mazariegos and directed by Faughnan.
“Both half hours are like six episodes of a six-episode series,” said Selman, who described the tone as a cross between a normal episode and a “Treehouse of Horror” edition. But before you ask the “Simpsons” canon question, no, this is not canon. “Stuff happens we won’t stick with, so think of this from a different universe, with a different tone,” he said. “I think we did a good job of telling an interesting dramatic Flanders story.”
The episode is branded as from “Simpflix,” and yes, you’ll need to get ready to hit pause and see a list of all sorts of “Simpsons”-style Netflix parodies that might be available to stream in that universe. Said Selman: “If we had infinite time, Disney would be like, let’s do all these shows!”
Here’s the trailer: