Updated on June 11, 2015
D’oh! And also hmm: The Simpsons, it seems, are separating.
In an interview with Variety this week, show-runner Al Jean reveals that, in this fall’s premiere of the The Simpsons’ 27th season,
it’s discovered after all the years Homer has narcolepsy and it’s an incredible strain on the marriage. Homer and Marge legally separate, and Homer falls in love with his pharmacist, who’s voiced by Lena Dunham.
This isn't the first time, to be sure, that the Simpsons have faced marital difficulties. The threat of divorce has long loomed over Springfield's bluest-haired and baldest-headed couple, the threat usually caused by something dumb and/or comically inconsiderate that Homer did. (There was also the episode in Season 20 that revealed that, because of a clerical error, the couple had been legally divorced since Season 8.)
But Homer and Marge have persevered, together, both in spite and because of the key fact of their marriage: The Simpson union features a clear reacher … and a clear settler.
How I Met Your Mother laid out the basic dynamics of the reacher/settler theory: In every relationship, the idea goes, there's a reacher and there's a settler. The roles are fairly self-explanatory—the reacher has gotten someone out of his or her league; the settler has, indeed, settled. Which isn’t to say that a reaching/settling couple don’t both love each other or get something equally fulfilling out of their relationship; it is to say, though, that according to traditional and occasionally superficial romantic criteria—looks, smarts, charm, whatever else you want to throw in there—couples will rarely be evenly matched. One will go up; the other will go down.