22 Behind the Laughter

This episode is a parody of Behind the Music, the VH1 biography show, even sharing the same narrator, Jim Forbes, showing the Simpsons as actors portraying a fictionalized version of their lives. The story begins in Springfield, where Homer and Marge Simpson settle down to raise a family, showing several old family video clips of young Homer and Marge, as well as Bart and Lisa as toddlers, and eventually Maggie. Through interviews with the "actors" of the show, the documentary details the family's love of television, which eventually inspires Homer to create a short pilot for a more realistic take on the modern family, rather than the highly idealized families of sitcoms. However, the pilot is just a few minutes long, consisting of little more than painfully cliched jokes about Homer's boss (played by Bart), coming over for dinner. Despite the poor material, Homer took the pilot to different television networks, but was never able to get past security. Luckily, Marge reveals that her hairdresser was also the president of FOX Broadcasting, giving the family an entry into the business. FOX ordered 13 episodes, which would become The Simpsons (season 1). The success was instantaneous. Detailing the Simpsons' meteoric rise to stardom in the early 1990s, the documentary further explores Simpsonmania, as well as the family's reaction to their newfound wealth. The Simpsons moved out of their iconic 742 Evergreen Terrace home, and into MC Hammer's old mansion, Hammertime (renamed "Homertime").

However, fame soon began to show its dark side. After the iconic cliff jumping scene from Bart the Daredevil, Homer is severely injured, and becomes addicted to painkillers. The physical comedy of the show, which usually focuses on him, quickly takes a severe toll on his health. Meanwhile, the family's fortune begins to dwindle, due to Marge making a few failed investments in contraceptives. On top of that, script problems begin to develop, as the family starts having trouble thinking up new, original ideas, and the show is forced to rely on nonsensical plot twists (using the controversial The Principal and the Pauper as an example). At the same time, Bart goes to rehab after attacking flight attendants, being replaced on the show by Richie Rich for a series of episodes universally loathed by fans. Finally, the IRS, tipped off by Apu, discovers that the Simpsons have been dodging their income tax, quickly seizing their assets, along with their mansion. Pushed to the breaking point, the Simpsons have a massive falling out in public while guest hosting the Iowa State Fair, and split up.

Fox is forced to put the show on hiatus, since none of the Simpsons will talk to each other. The members go their independent ways: Homer follows a career in the legitimate theater; Bart replaces Lorenzo Lamas as the star of the syndicated action show Renegade; Marge makes a nightclub act performing Bob Marley's song "I Shot the Sheriff"; and Lisa writes a tell-all book about her experiences and how Homer would slip anti-growth hormones into her cereal, entitled "Where Are My Residuals?". Bringing the family back together seems hopeless until country singer Willie Nelson puts on a phony awards show in order to reconcile the family. They hug and forget past wrongs in a sensitive reunion. Again, they look with hope to the many years of episodes of the Simpsons to come...or not.

The episode ends with an epilogue, in which the narrator states, "...the future looks brighter than ever for this northern Kentucky family." Following the epilogue, the Simpson family is shown in a video editing room, viewing a scene from an upcoming episode, which Homer claims will be in the last season. The scene shows the family talking about winning a trip to Delaware, and was later used as an actual scene in the episode, "Simpsons Tall Tales". The final scene shows a mock teaser for an "upcoming episode" of Behind the Laughter about Huckleberry Hound, in which he reveals that he is gay.

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