‘Weekend at Burnsie’s‘ is the sixteenth episode of The Simpsons’ thirteenth season. It lets the audience watch as the Simpsons smoke marijuana for the first time. It aired in the United States on the Fox network on April 7, 2002. In the episode, Homer Simpson is prescribed medicinal marijuana after getting pecked in the eyes by a murder of crows. While his family and friends worry about the drug altering his personality, Homer becomes Mr. Burns’s vice president after cracking up at Burns’s jokes. Before it’s over, all the Simpsons smoke marijuana.
The episode where the Simpsons smoke marijuana was directed by Michael Marcantel. The plot idea for the episode was pitched by George Meyer, who wanted to make an episode about Homer getting addicted to medicinal marijuana. Executive producer and current show-runner Al Jean found the idea “very funny” and gave former staff writer Jon Vitti the duty to write the episode’s first draft. Fox was initially very uneasy to pass the episode for broadcast, since they were concerned that it might encourage younger viewers to smoke marijuana. Even though The Simpsons’ staff slightly altered the episode by not actually showing Homer smoke his medicinal marijuana, the network was still worried that it might cause a controversy.
The use of medicinal marijuana is prominently featured throughout “Weekend at Burnsie’s”. Because the legislation of medicinal marijuana is a controversial issue, The Simpsons’ staff has stated that they wanted to explore both sides of the argument, showing both the negative and positive effects of marijuana use. The episode does not come to an absolute conclusion about the issue. The episode also criticizes the use of genetically modified foods, and references Citizen Kane, Dragnet, The Birds, and Judy Garland, among other things. It also features the American rock band Phish as themselves.
Despite the network’s initial concerns of what critics might think if the Simpsons smoke marijuana, “Weekend at Burnsie’s” did not attract any controversy. In its original broadcast, the episode was seen by approximately 7.2 million viewers, finishing in 46th place in the ratings the week it aired. Following the thirteenth season’s release on DVD and Blu-ray on August 24, 2010, the episode received mostly positive reviews from critics.
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