Written by: Jeff Melvoin
Directed by: Michael Fresco
Aired: January 18, 1995
Log line: There’s something strange in the newly tapped Cicely water when the residents start taking on the traits of the opposite sex.
Listen to the podcast of the episode here.
After the greatness of last week’s episode, “Mi Casa, Su Casa,” we are brought down to reality with a cringe-worthy episode. Of course we’ve seen the switching of gender roles before in “Spring Break” when Maurice suddenly finds himself being very domestic just before the ice breaks (and conversely, Holling becomes aggressive and has a boxing match with Barbara). This episode “Horns” extends that idea further, with nearly the whole town switching gender roles because of Maurice’s new bottled water which features ancient, pure water.
The episode is very broad. Scenes are embarrassing (who wants to know about the sexual habits of Hayden or Eugene?). And frankly, the stereotypical ideas of femininity (weepy, sensitive) and masculinity (horny, aggressive) are rather insulting.
It was difficult for us to think about what to write about this week. But we thought that it might be interesting to see how the theme of water plays out in images of water in this episode.
First the Cicely Water, with its great slogan “Taste of Time.”
We see Ed watching the water battle scene from Ben-Hur. Notice that the Charlton Heston character is in chains – a parallel to both Cal and Joel maybe?
Later on, Cal watches a scene from the 1948 movie Humoresque. Here water is tied to Cal’s depression.
Of course, there are Bertrand’s tears….
Water is a means to separate, as Joel goes back up river.
Man’s (or rather, Maurice’s) inability to contain nature (via water) culminates in the “setting free” of the water in the tank.
The episode ends with Joel peacefully rowing in water.
The Good – We didn’t find a lot to like about this episode, though we both appreciated Shelly and Maggie questioning Phil’s (and, by extension, men in general’s) labeling of women’s libido as a disease.
The Bad – There were many, many problems we had with this episode, from its title to its reductive, go-for-the-cheap-laugh stereotypical portrayals of gender. Much of our discussion on the podcast detailed our problems with the episode.
The Notable –This is the series’ 100th episode. Plus, we saw Pete Gilliam for the first time since the pilot episode.
On’s ratings: 6.5 out of 10
Shane’s ratings: 5.5 out of 10
It was 20 years ago. PC hadn’t been thought of. It was funny.
this episode was absolutely cringe worthy—and i remember hating it 20 years ago. nothing to do with “PC” it was weak writing and lacked all the nuance of other episodes dealing with gender in past season.