Since people can never get enough of naming their worst. episode. ever. And since, more often than not, it's from a later season, I figured we'd name our favorite post-Golden Era episodes for a change.
When starting to compile my list, I found that it was both easier and harder than I thought it would be. Easier because there are more episodes from the post-GE that I like than I thought. Harder because I had to narrow all of those down to ten. (Edit: Well, not that hard.)
It was during this task that I realized that maybe we need to cut The Simpsons some slack--Scully, Jean, the writers, everybody. Sure, when compared to the GE classics--which are works of art--later Simpsons episodes do seem subpar. But name one other show that, 21 seasons or one season, produces episodes as good as "Papa's Got a Brand New Badge," "Please Homer, Don't Hammer 'Em," or "Eternal Moonshine," just to name a few from later seasons. Most post-GE episodes do have inconsistent endings. (What the hell was up with "Mona Leaves-A"'s third act?) But the writers' hearts (and wallets) were in the right place, jerks.
For the purposes of this list, the GE is seasons 1-9, so none of those seasons' episodes can be used in your list. You don't have to name 10, but the minimum is 5. You don't have to explain your choices, either. So, without further ado, here are my picks for the best post-GE episodes, in order from least to greatest (Yes, I have plenty of time on my hands.): <--That emoticon was not intended
10. Sex, Pies and Idiot Scrapes
9. The Color Yellow - "And that's why I earn considerably less than my white coworkers." Parts of this episode reminded me of "Lisa the Iconoclast."
8. Alone Again, Natura-Diddily - Though he majorly resents Ned, and is literally responsible for killing his wife, in the end, Homer comes through for him, in yet another episode where Ned's faith is put to the test. The scene where the two are sitting on the swings reflecting on Maude's death is the scene all those Homer and Ned exchanges in the series have been building up to.
7. Any Given Sundance - Three words: Life Blows Chunks.
6. I Don't Wanna Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - The. Best. Marge Episode. Ever. You really begin to empathize with her, something that no other Marge episode has managed to do. And Steve Buscemi's Dwight is a nice foil.
5. The Squirt and the Whale - I was shocked when I first saw this episode at just how good it is. A nice environment-themed story and, dare I say, the best Homer-Lisa episode of the series.
4. Dangerous Curves - Shows how much story you can fit into 20 mins. if you use it wisely. Episode jumps back and forth between past and present times in Marge and Homer's weathered relationship without losing a beat.
3. That 90's Show - Who cares that it contradicts the Simpsons timeline--it's the most enjoyable Simpsons episode in recent seasons. A flashback show, an imposing professor (with a nice performance from Hank Azaria), grunge, Lou the Cop, "Margerine," an early peek at Kirk and Luann's marriage, CBG explaining why Lord of the Rings will never be filmed, Marge finding out Homer's "drug" problem is due to insulin, not heroin, "No soup for you! Because I am master of my domain, Newman." What's not to like?
2. He Loves to Fly and He D'ohs - A post-GE episode where Homer isn't acting like a Jerkass, and nobody noticed.
1. D’oh-in’ in the Wind - Might as well be a GE classic
A Second Opinion
These are what my brother thinks are the best post-GE episodes, in no particular order:
1. That 90's Show
2. Beyond Blunderdome
3. Behind the Laughter
4. Kill the Alligator and Run
5. E-I-E-I-(Annoyed Grunt)