When Springfield is burned to the ground, the Simpsons beg Mr. Burns to fund its rebuilding. Burns agrees – with one condition: he gets to put on a variety show at the Springfield Bowl.
Mr. Burns hires the Simpsons to play his live-in virtual reality family, but excludes Homer so that he may play dad. Now alone, Homer finds a new best friend in girl-next-door Julia, who eats, drinks and thinks like him.
After Homer catches Bart rooting for Springfield's football rival, the Boston Americans, he plans a family "hate-cation" trip to Boston in an attempt to show Bart that Boston is a terrible city.
In the midst of a major drought, Mr. Burns introduces a Hunger Games-style contest in which Springfield's children fight each other for a day in Burns' personal reservoir. Meanwhile, Lisa's imaginary best friend, Rachel, is jealous of Lisa's real best friends and starts killing them. Moe tells Bart that the barflies are actually covert agents and that he wants Bart join their team in Homer's place.
Lisa and Bart investigate Krusty's suspicious new "Krustaceans" candy. Meanwhile, Homer wants a promotion at the nuclear plant and asks Marge to help him dress the part, and news anchor Kent Brockman struggles to find his feet in the changing media world.
Homer gets roped into coaching the kids' lacrosse team with Milhouse's dad, Kirk, who is in desperate need of a friend. When Kirk gets too clingy, Homer vents about how much of a loser he is. Kirk overhears his rant and disappears, right when the team needs him most: the championship game.
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