Doh! Narcolepsy Just Isn’t that Funny, Even Homer Simpson Agrees!

It’s unfair, but Hollywood thinks narcolepsy is funny.

Over and over, characters suffering from the rare neurological disorder are portrayed as buffoons, falling asleep face down in their chicken soup, or taking a nap in the middle of a bowling lane.

Well, surprise! Score one for The Simpsons!

Now in its 26th season, Homer is diagnosed with narcolepsy and the situations are a fair depiction of an actual 3-dimensional person living with the condition.


I’ve never been a huge fan of the animated show, but I have to give the writers credit in this case. The narcolepsy community may be used to the ridicule tossed in their direction every time the sleep disorder is depicted on the big screen, but The Simpsons producer Al Jean promised that this episode would not go that route; he kept that promise.

The Simpsons manages to respectfully portray people who are trying to cope with their narcolepsy.

In one scene, where the irrepressible Bart asks the doctor if it’s time to pull the plug on Homer, the doctor sets Bart straight and informs him people with narcolepsy can lead normal lives.

Of course, as soon as he’s diagnosed, Homer begins to use narcolepsy as an excuse for getting out of everything he doesn’t want to do, but the episode makes it clear that that’s on Homer, and not his diagnosis.

And, while many people with narcolepsy, can see the humor in many of the situations they are presented with, The Simpsons realistically shows the ups and downs of dealing with excessive daytime sleepiness and/or cataplexy associated with narcolepsy in a realistic and compassionate manner.

Wow! Did not see that one coming!

Erica Zahn

Erica Zahn

Erica Zahn is passionate about raising awareness of rare diseases and disorders and helping people connect with the resources that may ease their journey. Erica has been a caregiver, and is a patient, herself, so she completely relates to the rare disease community--on a deeply personal level.

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