OMOA Undue Influence in Pop Culture – Cult Recruitment and Exiting

In this month’s episode, Pearse and Spike take a look at two cult-related episodes from the popular cartoon shows, The Simpsons and King of the Hill.

In The Simpsons episode entitled “The Joy of Sects,” Homer joins the Movementarians, who promise their followers a life of Bliss on Blisstonia – if only they give up all their money and follow their Leader, by toiling in the lima-bean fields. The whole town falls under the group’s spell until Marge gets the family out. Spike and Pearse discuss the inaccurate Hollywood “cult” tropes – and consider the few bits the episode got right – as well as dissecting the extremely erroneous “deprogramming” of the Simpson family.

Moving onto the King of the Hill episode “Fun with Jane and Jane,” Pearse and Spike explore what makes this a much more accurate picture of a high-control group – and which tropes weren’t so accurate. In particular, they discuss the excellent job Hank does in helping Peggy and LuAnne leave the group on their own terms, in sharp contrast to the forcible kidnapping and deception Marge employs to “rescue” her family in the Simpsons episode.

Before you tune into this informative and high-spirited discussion, we encourage you to watch the shows so you have them fresh in your mind. Also mentioned in this podcast is a former episode with Christian Szurko, available here.

You may also upload the episode as an mp3 here.

What do you think about this podcast? Do you agree? Do you know of a movie, television or book demonstrating undue influence that you’d like to see us tackle next? We’d love to hear from you! 

This article was compiled by the Open Minds Editorial Staff.


  1. Ron Kasman November 30, 2018 at 5:36 pm - Reply

    Hi, folks. I have the Simpson’s episode but not the King of the Hill one. I thought the Simpson’s episode was vaguely about Scientology and more about Scientology than any other cult. But I thought it was done less for education than for laughs. I had no problem with it veering away from an accurate view of cults– as I said, I don’t think it was there to educate.

    And just to mention it South Park did one on Scientology concentrating on Travolta and Cruise. I am sure you are aware of that. I was surprised when a young man, perhaps 18, told me that Hubbard was on a boat somewhere raping little boys. I am sure he got that from South Park. I don’t know why that put that in. Much of the rest seemed quite factual, or as factual as the creators could surmise.

    I actually thought the South Park one on the Mormons was even better than the one on Scientology.

  2. Lucem P December 10, 2018 at 4:04 pm - Reply

    Hello, any chance you could get a feed available on either itunes or provide an RSS feed for the podcast? I’ve been looking and can’t find any feeds to subscribe to, other than youtube. Thanks

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