Watch Hugh Jackman's debut on The Simpsons singing about middle-class decline
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The Simpsons has been running so long (the season 33 finale airs this Sunday) that some elements of its basic premise no longer track in the modern economic context. Modern viewers might very well wonder how an oaf like Homer (Dan Castellanata) can afford a house and car on a single income. Well, don't worry: Hugh Jackman shows up in the upcoming season finale to explain the history of the American middle class — in song, of course! Watch the EW exclusive preview above.
This is Jackman's debut on The Simpsons, after previously turning them down due to a scheduling conflict. As you can see in the clip, the star of Broadway's current The Music Man revival gets to show off his singing chops
"My understanding is that we offered him a part a few years ago, and he wanted to do it, but was swamped for time," episode writer Tim Long tells EW. "This time he was available and gave us an enthusiastic yes! He also loved the part and the song we wrote for him, which I think really play to his enormous talents."
In the episode, Jackman voices a janitor at the nuclear power plant where Homer works. Bart (Nancy Cartwright) has accompanied his father to the job site, where the janitor explains how the post-World War II era brought prosperity to the American middle class that allowed people like Homer to succeed despite their failings. But then "gradually, it all went to hell," as Jackman sings.
"We were intrigued and amused by an article in The Atlantic titled, 'The Life in the Simpsons Is No Longer Attainable,'" Long says. "At first we thought it was pretty funny. The Simpsons is a cartoon, after all, and the show's relationship with money is very fungible. Homer once got his hands on a trillion-dollar bill, and immediately tried to use it in a soda machine."
Long continues, "but the more we thought about it, the more we thought The Atlantic had a point. Homer really does belong to the last generation of people who can hold a good, middle-class job with benefits for life, without some sort of higher degree. There's no way Bart will have that. And then after ruminating about that for a few days, we came to the inevitable conclusion: It's got to be a musical! And we gotta get both Hugh Jackman and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich! From there, it all kinda came together."
Long's not lying. Although he doesn't appear in the clip above, Reich (who served as U.S. Labor Secretary under President Bill Clinton) does show up in the episode as himself to help explain the history of American middle-class decline.
Watch the clip above, and catch the full season finale episode this Sunday on Fox.
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