Hair Loss Issues Are Often Explored On Fox's "The Simpsons"
The misadventures of TV’s most recognizable follicularly challenged celebrity remain funny and insightful.
Ask “Who is the most famous bald character on television?” and chances are the answer you get will be “Homer Simpson.” He’s no role model, but he’s instantly recognizable – and he often resonates with others with “very high foreheads.”
“Simpson and Delilah,” written by Jon Vitti, was the second show of “The Simpsons’” second season. While the series was still a season away from really hitting its stride, this episode ranks up there with the best of them. And it’s one that speaks to people with hair loss issues in a substantive, sensitive and, of course, funny way. We can relate even as we laugh ourselves silly.
In the episode, Homer sees a commercial for a new hair growth product called “Dimoxinil” (a name clearly modeled on the real life minoxidil, or Rogaine), which claims to allow users to grow “as much or as little” hair as they want. Naturally, this news delights Homer, who empties out a medicine cabinet overflowing with ineffective hair growth products (with names such as “Gorilla Man,'' ''Hair Chow,'' ''Bald Buster,'' and ''U Wanna B Hair-E.”)
But when Homer tries to obtain Dimoxinil, he is devastated to learn that a six-month supply would cost a whopping $1,000. He is offered the cheaper alternative, “Hair in a Drum,” but is warned that “any hair growth you experience while using it will be purely coincidental.”
At work the next day, co-worker Lenny encourages Homer to use the company’s medical insurance plan to get the Dimoxinil, dismissing Homer’s hesitation about the legality of this by stating “Why should you get nothing while some guy who loses a finger hits the jackpot?”
Homer with hair
Homer charges the Dimoxinil to his medical insurance and immediately uses it, with quick results: the next morning he awakens with a full head of long beautiful hair.
This causes a noticeable change in Homer. Wife Marge says he’s “friskier” than he’s been in years and Homer’s boss Mr. Burns promotes him to junior executive, thinking him a “young go-getter” who is “dynamic and resourceful” solely because of his restored hair.
Helped by his incredibly efficient and resourceful secretary, Karl, Homer is definitely on the move – until Smithers, Mr. Burns’ right hand man, does some snooping and finds Homer’s insurance form for Dimoxinil.
All looks black for Homer when Smithers confronts him about this, but Karl takes the fall, claiming he filled out the form and that Homer knew nothing about it. Before he leaves, Karl gives Homer a speech he has prepared for Homer to read the next day at a crucial executive meeting.
That night, Bart sneaks into Homer’s room and, imagining how he would look with a beatnik goatee, splashes Dimoxinil on his face. Unfortunately, he drops the bottle and every last drop of the precious hair growth formula pours into the carpet.
The next day, having been deprived of his nightly treatment, Homer awakens with no hair once again. Despite a pep talk from Karl, his speech is a disaster: the content of his speech is impressive, but the audience refuses to accept him because he’s bald. (“Some nerve telling us how to run the plant. He doesn’t even have hair!”) Busted back down to his old nowhere job, Homer goes home depressed and in bed admits he’s afraid Marge won’t love him as much as before. In a tender ending, Marge confirms that his hair, or lack of it, makes no difference to her as she sings “You Are So Beautiful” to him.
The Simpsons explore the depth of hair loss
It may only be a cartoon, but “Simpson and Delilah” speaks eloquently (if amusingly) about the difficulties encountered by many people who experience hair loss. Appearances are crucial in our society, and most people get locked in to a particular mode of defining how they look, a mode that begins in youth when they have hair. So when they start to lose that hair, it can cause a crisis of confidence.
Not for everyone. Some people accept hair loss as a part of their lives. They may miss some of the things associated with having hair, but they realize that they’re still the same person and that though they may look different than they used to, that doesn’t mean they aren’t still attractive.
But for others it can be devastating. A loss of comfort in the way we look can lead to a loss of confidence in many matters. We can feel that our whole lives have been transformed, and not for the better. If we can’t come to accept the way we look, or if we can’t find a way of working with our hair loss – hats, hairpieces, plugs, etc. – that makes us feel comfortable, we can feel as if our lives are derailing.
We sympathize with Homer’s desperation to get the Dimoxinil. We laugh at the manner in which his life turns totally around once he regains his hair, but deep inside many of us, we believe that we could also be “better” if we only had our hair back. And we understand the crippling blow that Homer feels when he once again loses his hair and understand his fear that everything will turn black, even down to losing his loved one.
It’s not true, of course, and Homer finds that out. Ultimately, this very funny episode reinforces through laughter the truth that many of us find so difficult to accept: we are who we say we are, not who our hair says we are and … most importantly, there are many Marge Simpson types among us capable and willing to see the deeper attractions and true beauty of people, regardless of their hair loss.
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