Baby Yoda is a breakout character on The Mandalorian, but his popularity is starting to resemble The Simpsons’ “Bartmania” of the early 90’s.
The Mandalorian is starting to the run into the same conundrum with Baby Yoda as The Simpsons did with Bart. By this point on the show, Baby Yoda has become one of the most recognizable and adored characters in Star Wars, with his popularity and small size making him very easy to merchandise, too. However, with The Mandalorian now midway through season 2, much of the show’s focus is being drawn to the latest headline-making antics Baby Yoda finds himself in during each new episode, which is where The Simpsons comparison comes into play.
The Simpsons began as more or less a kid’s show, and despite the whole family supposedly being in the spotlight, the mischievous Bart Simpson constantly stole the show in the early days of the series. The “Bartmania” phenomenon ensued from this, with Bart being one of the most popular and merchandized fictional characters of the early 90s. Eventually, The Simpsons morphed into more of the family ensemble series that its title implied, with Homer Simpson in particular becoming more of the slow-witted, off-the-wall cartoon character the world knows and loves him as today.
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Though Bart’s popularity never diminished, it took some effort for The Simpsons to steer the ship away from simply being “The Bart Simpson Show“, and if the last few episodes of The Mandalorian are any indication, it is starting to drift into the same waters with Baby Yoda. From retreating into his floating carrier when Mando’s about the get into a fight to horrifying the world by eating the Frog Lady’s (fortunately unfertilized) eggs, Baby Yoda is starting to generate more attention than virtually anything else in season 2.
The Mandalorian season 2, episode 4, “Chapter 12: The Siege“, shows how much Baby Yoda need only be Baby Yoda to be in the spotlight when he gets hold of another character’s macarons when Mando leaves him in a local school. The problem is that the show’s use of Baby Yoda’s naivete and cuteness is starting to resemble how much Bart dominated The Simpsons in its infancy. Furthermore, with Baby Yoda being a character that Mando can carry around in one arm, his aforementioned merchandizing capacity is on the same tier as Bart himself.
Of course, this is all likely an unintended side-effect of Baby Yoda becoming such a breakout character, and he’s obviously not heading into the same kind of slapstick shenanigans as Bart’s crank calls to Moe Szyslak or assembling a schoolyard militia to defeat the bully Nelson Muntz. Still, it’s hard to miss how much Baby Yoda’s random acts of child-like curiosity are becoming a central element of every episode of The Mandalorian. While this isn’t something that the show needs to put the brakes on altogether, it should be kept in check, lest the simple act of Baby Yoda picking up and examining an object he doesn’t fully understand begin to come at the expense of other character’s stories.
The Mandalorian has been one of the best chapters of the entire Star Wars universe, but the last few episodes have shown that it needs to be wary of unleashing “Baby Yoda-mania” on the world. Baby Yoda is an integral part of the series, but the show shouldn’t over-rely on him, either. The Simpsons found its groove after its beginnings with Bart in the cockpit, and did so without putting him on the bench, and The Mandalorian can surely do the same with Baby Yoda.
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