While attending the University of Pennsylvania, Elon Musk was a busy dude. He pursued degrees in business and physics during the week, and on weekends threw raging parties at a rented multi-bedroom house-turned-nightclub to earn extra money. By the time Sunday night came around, Musk wanted to relax, and did so with a ritual shared by millions of people. “I had this lousy TV that was always fuzzy and made it really challenging to watch anything,” he said. “The only thing we would tune in for was The Simpsons every week.”
This Sunday, Musk, the head honcho at Tesla Motors and SpaceX, will enjoy the rare experience of watching himself in a Simpsons episode called “The Musk Who Fell to Earth.” The episode was inspired by a meeting Musk had with James L. Brooks, the longtime executive producer of the show. The men were spitballing ideas, and by the end of their discussion Brooks knew he wanted Musk to play a fictionalized version of himself on the show.
The episode begins, naturally enough, with Musk traveling through space in a craft of his own design. He’s taking the genius engineer version of a Sunday drive because he’s struggling to come up with new ideas. Then, by happenstance, Musk lands in the Simpsons’ backyard and meets Homer. “Homer then becomes this incredible inspiration to him,” said Al Jean, the head writer and show runner for The Simpsons.
Musk forms an unlikely partnership with Montgomery Burns and seeks to electrify and modernize Springfield, while on a quest to build a model community. The cars are electric and drive themselves. There’s a Hyperloop taking people around the city at record speeds. “Burns thinks it will make him a fortune, but it turns out that he’s going to lose $50 million a quarter,” said Jean. “Musk, of course, thinks that’s fine. This leaves Burns so livid that he attempts to kill Musk.”
Jean is quick to point out that the episode takes a few shots at Musk. In fact, he said, it's meant to make people think about the consequences of charging toward a technological utopia. “Some of the sacrifices he demands are too much to bear,” Jean said. Musk got to read the entire script and could see the jabs coming. “He was very open to making fun of himself,” Jean said. “He liked the joke where Bart is trying to guess the password to unlock Elon’s self-driving car and tries ‘MUSKRULZ’ and it works.”
There’s another choice moment when Smithers first introduces Musk to Burns. Smithers tells Burns, “I’d like to introduce you to this man who is revolutionizing the car industry,” and Burns replies, “Henry Ford, good to see you. You’re as healthy and vibrant as Detroit.”
When asked about the experience, Musk said he enjoyed it and is looking forward to Sunday. "It's kind of trippy," he said.