Homer and Marge attend a candy convention and hire a babysitter for the kids. After the convention, Homer gives the babysitter a ride home. He notices a very rare Gummi candy stuck to her bottom, so he reaches out and grabs it. Homer is accused of sexual harassment, and the whole town and the media are against him until Groundskeeper Willie saves the day by giving proof of Homer's innocence.
Homer and Marge attend a candy convention and hire Ashley Grant, a college-aged feminist, to babysit Bart, Maggie and Lisa. At the convention, Homer outfits Marge with an oversized trenchcoat and is vigilant in smuggling out as much candy as possible in her pockets, until a Gummi Venus de Milo catches his eye. Using Marge as a distraction, Homer is able to steal the show's most valuable and rarest candy, the Gummi Venus, using a Buzz Cola and Poprox grenade to escape, possibly injuring many people.
That night, Homer searches for the Gummi Venus but is unable to find it. Marge reminds him to take Ashley home and Homer grudgingly obliges. As Ashley is exiting Homer's car he sees the Gummi Venus stuck to the back of her pants. Homer innocently grabs the candy and Ashley turns around to see Homer drooling lustily, anticipating finally getting to eat the Gummi Venus. Misinterpreting his poor tact as a deliberate sexual advance, Ashley runs off screaming in terror while Homer gleefully eats the candy.
The next morning, an angry mob marches onto the Simpsons' lawn and claims that Homer sexually harassed Ashley. Homer tries to explain his actions, but the crowd isn't interested in anything that might defend him and continually harasses Homer, following him everywhere, including work. Rock Bottom, a tabloid news show, wants to interview him about his predicament and Homer immediately agrees to be interviewed. However, the interview is heavily (and badly) edited into a totally inaccurate segment where Homer is portrayed as a sexual pervert. Things go from bad to worse as a media circus arrives at the Simpson home and provides 24-hour coverage of Simpson household events such as Marge letting the cat out and the family watching TV. In the process, the media practically label Homer the worst person in the world and claim that everything he does, including slipping in the shower, is an act of perversion. Making matters worse, the FOX network airs a movie titled Homer S.: Portrait of an Ass-Grabber (starring Dennis Franz as Homer) which makes Homer look even more evil. Lisa and Marge suggest that Homer videotape his side of the story and air it on a public access TV channel, but all he succeeds in doing is angering an old-time bicyclist.
However, Groundskeeper Willie also sees Homer's public TV speech, and arrives at the Simpson home with a video tape of what happened the night Homer took Ashley home. The tape clearly shows that Homer was not grabbing Ashley, but the Gummi Venus. Ashley and the media apologize for labelling Homer a monster. Later, the Simpsons watch Rock Bottom on TV. When the show retracts its accusations against Homer, they all cheer. The very same episode, however, runs a segment that labels Willie as a disgusting voyeur ("Rowdy Roddy Peeper") and Homer immediately declares that Willie is evil. Marge asks Homer if he learned anything from his experiences, to which Homer cheerfully replies that he hasn't learned a thing.
Marge and the kids leave the living room with disgusted looks, and Homer looks around a couple of times to make sure they're gone. Then he hugs the TV and says, "Let's never fight again."
Greg Daniels, the writer of the episode, originally pitched this episode as being more centered on Lisa's and Homer's opposing ideas on feminism. Eventually, the episode became more a satire of the media and shows like Hard Copy. David Mirkin, the show runner at the time, felt very strongly about the "tabloidization of the media" and has said that the episode is as current today as it was at the time and things have since gotten worse. Several gags in the episode are based on what real-life shows like Hard Copy would do, such as making people appear guilty without a trial as well as completely invading their privacy by setting up camp outside their homes.
According to David Mirkin, this episode is very highly ranked among Simpsons fans. In Entertainment Weekly's top 25 The Simpsons episodes in 2003, Homer Badman was placed eighteenth. The Quindecim, a college newspaper, made their own top 25 list, placing this episode at 15th place.
At the end of the episode a list of apology is scrolled across the screen faster than most people can read. The following was displayed, "Peoples' Choice Awards" is America's greatest honor. - Styrofoam is not made from kittens. - The UFO was a paper plate. - The nerds on the Internet are not geeks. - The word "cheese" is not funny in and of itself. - The older Flanders boy is Todd, not Rod. - Lyndon Johnson did not provide the voice of Yosemite Sam. - If you are reading this, you have no life. - Roy Rogers was not buried in his horse. - The other UFO was an upside down salad spinner. - Our universities are not "hotbeds" of anything. - Mr. Dershowitz did not literally have four eyes. - Our viewers are not pathetic sexless food tubes. - Audrey Hepburn never weighed 400 pounds. - The "Cheers" gang is not a real gang. - Salt water does not chase the thirsties away. - Licking an electrical outlet will not turn you into a Mighty Morphin Power Ranger. - Cats do not eventually turn into dogs. - Bullets do not bounce off of fat guys. - Recycling does not deplete the ozone. - Everything is 10% fruit juice. - The flesh eating virus does not hide in ice cream. - Janet Reno is evil. - V8 juice is not 1/8 gasoline. - Ted Koppel is a robot. - Women aren't from Venus and men aren't form Mars. - Fleiss does floss. - Quayle is familiar with common bathroom procedures. - Bart is bad to the bone. - Godfry Jones' wife is cheating on him. - The Beatles haven't reunited to enter kick boxing competitions. - The "Bug" on your TV screen can see into your home. - Everyone on TV is better than you. - The people who are writing this have no life."