This is the “Shut Up And Take My Money” episode and it naturally satirizes Apple products.
The Planet Express crew is hired to throw out the old electronics that the Earth no longer wants, even though they are originally told it’s being recycled. They dump it on the third world of the Antares system, where all e-waste is disposed of, which is poisoning the planet. It’s revealed that not only are the Earth devices wrecking their environment, but the toxic dismantling work is done almost entirely by children (except for the whipping). Leela (Katey Sagal) announces that the crew is going to try to keep their electronics longer… only to immediately throw her phone out when an ad for the new eyePhone comes out. The crew gets in line at the Mom (Tress MacNeille) store to get the new model. Despite the fact that there are a ton of them in the warehouse, the ads and the store tell everyone that the eyePhones are in short supply. Even when told that there are numerous problems with the phone, Fry (Billy West) demands that they give it to him, so they shove it in his eye.
The crew start to get addicted to the Twit app, based around sending short videos. Fry and Bender (John DiMaggio) make a bet about who can reach one million followers first. Whoever loses has to swim in a pool of vomit from a two-headed goat. Mom is thrilled at the success of the eyePhone, because she’ll be able to use Fry’s and Bender’s accounts to distribute a Twit-worm, which she claims is a “killer app.” Fry is desperately losing the race, but finds out that Leela has a singing boil on her right butt cheek named Susan (Craig Ferguson). Leela begs Fry not to tell anyone about it, but Fry, desperate, uploads a video of Susan and Leela singing, which gains him followers, but wrecks Leela’s reputation and her trust towards Fry.
It turns out that Bender and Fry get one million followers at exactly the same time, so no one loses the bet. However, it turns out that Fry dunked himself in the pool and posted it online so that HE would be the new viral video instead of Leela. However, Leela had already come to terms with Susan, so the whole thing is rendered pointless. Mom unleashes the Twit-worm which turns people into zombies… so that they’ll buy the new eyePhone 2.0.
This episode is satire of Apple and is pretty much as blatant as the show ever gets. Honestly, jokes like renaming the “iPhone” as the “eyePhone” and “Twitter” as “Twit” are so obvious that I assume even Leno made them during a monologue. However, the episode wisely doesn’t actually rely on them to be funny, instead just recognizing that you know what they’re metaphors for, then telling a story from there. Because of that, it’s able to be a bit more ambitious and satirize the fact that all of us allow ourselves to do things that we know are harmful or stupid just because we’re compelled to by successful marketing and planned obsolescence.
It’s made even better by the fact that, just like with real applications for smartphones, the service is explicitly provided so that they can use it to gather information about you to sell for other advertisers. Mom points out that it’s somehow even more successful than using her “infosquitoes,” similar to how tracking social media is more accurate than directly polling people for their preferences. Although, since the infosquito appears to mostly determine that people like porn, maybe they’re more accurate than polls.
The boil named Susan joke in the episode is weird. It’s clearly a reference to Scottish singer Susan Boyle, who sang “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables on Britain’s Got Talent in 2008. She was notable for the massive contrast between her harsh Scottish speaking voice and her lovely singing voice, which resulted in the most shocked expression Simon Cowell has ever made. When Susan the boil is introduced, she’s even singing the same song. However, the boil sings in a thick Scottish accent (that of Craig Ferguson) and horribly off-key. Additionally, it’s drawn to be hairy and ugly. It seems to be a shot at the fact that Susan Boyle is not traditionally attractive, but rather than being funny, that just seems mean. It also never builds up to any kind of redemption or anything, Leela just pops Susan again by sitting on her at the end and she never comes back. I’m just not a fan of punching down, and that’s what this seems like.
Overall, aside from the one odd joke, I do still like the episode. It’s mostly solid satire.
It’s another pedantic math joke, because I love those and Futurama is one of the only shows that does them. When Mom finds out about Fry’s and Bender’s competition, she says that she’ll have two million zombies. Walt (Maurice LaMarche) says:
Actually, Fry and Bender may share some of the same followers. All we can say for sure is that there will be between one million and two million zombies.
Mom responds with:
All I can say for sure is… [slaps Walt].
This is a reference to the Double Counting Fallacy, in which people forget the fact that two non-exclusive groups can share members, resulting in the assumption of the maximum. It’s extremely common, but only pedants like Walt… or me… would correct someone about it. Most people would respond to such correction the way Mom does.
See you next week, meatbags.
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