Over the course of its now 30 years on television, The Simpsons has become so ingrained into our cultural lexicon that everyday references are wholly inescapable. This is particularly true on the internet, where Simpsons reactions GIFs and memes reign supreme, from the classic Grandpa Simpson enter/exit GIF to Nelson Muntz’s trademark “ha ha!”
But the most popular of them all is probably the “Homer slowly backs into bushes” GIF, which is a simple and straightforward way of communicating that you want to back away from an awkward situation. And in a clever meta nod to itself, on Sunday night’s new episode of The Simpsons it was revealed that, yes, even Homer Simpson himself uses the GIF.
In the episode, titled “The Girl on the Bus,” Lisa becomes enamored with a new friend named Sam and her seemingly perfect, cultured and educated family. Because she’s ashamed of her own family, Lisa makes up lies about her parents while assuming a double life to spend time with Sam’s family.
At one point in the episode, Homer, who is lost without Lisa, texts her because he can’t find his phone. Lisa reminds him that he’s literally texting from it. And then:
Some critics complain that The Simpsons has gotten stale over the years, but many — including New York Times writer Dave Itzkoff, a veritable authority on Simpsons reaction GIFs — were quick to point out the clever nod on Twitter.
Yes, well played, The Simpsons. Like a long marriage, the show still manages to come through with surprises now and then.