Over the course of Simpsons’ 24-year run, Homer Simpson has been established as a “typical American moron” who doesn’t even know how to do his job at the nuclear power plant (which I’m still amazed he even has). However, in newer episodes, this characteristic has been consistently contradicted.
In older seasons, he was a disciplinarian father whose heart was in the right place, but he was still pretty slow-witted. In the Mike Scully era, he seems to have gotten even stupider, and is even more of a jerkass because of it.
In later seasons, however, he is shown to have some level of knowledge that would typically not be found in a moron like the typical description. For instance, in “The Italian Bob”, he is heard explaining Italy’s history before being unified by Victor Emmanuel II. Someone as dumb as Homer is claimed to be cannot know something like that, because he would be too slow to pay attention to something like that.
The show screws itself over all the time as far as timeline goes. In “Lisa the Simpson”, Lisa discovers the “Simpson gene” (which is scientifically impossible), which turns men of the family into boneheads, but in “HOMR”, Homer is revealed to have become stupid by lodging around sixteen crayons up his nose.
Of course, neither of the episodes are realistic, and so I have to doubt both of those accounts, and I highly doubt that Homer’s mythical stupidity is psychosomatic (which would mean that he’s faking it in order to fit in). Even if he is stupid, he absolutely pales in comparison to Family Guy’s Peter Griffin, who is mentally retarded, and doesn’t seem to be aware of the consequences of his antics.
I’ve got a new idea. What if Homer is a man whose intelligence is somewhere between slightly dumb and average, but he’s intelligent in areas of his interest. That would make him more like an actual person. As for him being a bad father, it’s not because of stupidity. Yes, he was stupid when he decided to marry Marge and have her carry Bart to term, but that’s not it. He’s a bad father because he was unprepared, and doesn’t pay attention to his kids.
If Homer was supposed to be written as a stupid moron, then I’d say they didn’t do a job of hiding his hidden intellect. He’s not as smart as Lisa, but my point still stands. In fact, I think it’s weirdly ironic that there’s a fictional TV character within the show who’s also called “Homer Simpson” (forcing the real Homer to change his name). There’s an interesting quote that says more about the real Homer than the fake Homer.
Homer: Yeah, but why does the Homer Simpson character have to be so stupid?
Producer: Oh, he’s not stupid. He’s a street-smart fish-out-of-water in a world he never made!
I think this is actually rather symbolic, because maybe Homer is really just a perpetual fish-out-of-water case. But then again, we’re all fish out of water at some point, but then we grow accustomed to our environment. Perhaps Homer is a bit slow, but he only takes in what he wants to hear.
In conclusion, I think that Homer isn’t a full-blown moron. The writers made him into one in order to prolong the run of the show, and possibly to hide the inevitable decline in quality. Even if he is stupid, he’s not as stupid as Peter Griffin (who I’ve noticed is also fatter than Homer).