Futurama’s Death By Snu Snu Episode Is Yet Another Ode To Star Trek

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In the “Futurama” episode “Amazon Women in the Mood” (February 4, 2001), the blustering misogynist Zapp Brannigan (Billy West) takes control of a space-bound restaurant and pilots it through dangerous areas of space, merely because it’s more adventurous that way. Naturally, the restaurant is damaged during its voyage and crash lands on a distant, uncharted planet with the Planet Express crew. They discover on the uncharted planet a race of nine-foot-tall Amazon women clad in animal skin bikinis and carrying clubs. The Amazonians rarely see men on their planet and are not exactly sure what men are supposed to be good for

This premise, of course, is cribbed from any number of pornographic male fantasies stretching back at least to the publication of H. Rider Haggard’s “She” in 1886. There is a streak of colonialist fiction that dramatized faraway places (that is: far away from Western Europe) as Edenic locales where women wear less clothing and are willing to engage in coitus with European men merely as an exciting curiosity. 

As such, in “Amazon Women in the Mood,” Fry (West), Kif (Maurice LaMarche), and Zapp are taken prisoner and sentenced to death for being male. Their form of execution, however, is “death by snu-snu,” which is to say they will copulate with a long string of nine-foot women until they die. Bender is spared because he has no genitals. 

An oral history of “Women in the Mood” was printed by Cracked in 2023, and the episode’s writer, Lewis Morton, explained that, yes, he got to write a bunch of sex jokes, but that he was also inspired by certain episodes of “Star Trek,” specifically, the episodes wherein a computer rules a planet of innocents. Which has happened more than once. 

Death by snu-snu

It should be noted that Zapp Brannigan is a very William Shatner-like character, who possesses a flair for histrionics and hefts around a massively inflated ego. He is already a “Star Trek” reference. Morton admitted that a big part of “Amazon” was the scene wherein Zapp sang karaoke in a Shatnerian style. He said: 

“One thing we wanted to put into ‘Amazon Women in the Mood’ was when Zapp Brannigan did karaoke as William Shatner. Behind the scenes, Billy West and Maurice LaMarche used to do dead-on impressions of these famous William Shatner voiceover outtakes, so we put a bunch of lines from those outtakes into the script. There’s a famous one where Shatner’s berating a voiceover director and says, ‘You sicken me.’ The whole big chunk of him being William Shatner was just an excuse to put that into a script. All of this is just a part of our ongoing love of and obsession with ‘Star Trek.'”

The twist partway through “Amazon Women in the Mood” was the revelation that the Amazonian world was overseen by an intelligent computer voiced by Bea Arthur. The “Femputer” selected laws for the Amazons and they worshiped her like a goddess. The Femputer was visualized as a massive wall-sized contraption covered with blinking lights, very much the way a computer looked in 1960s episodes of “Star Trek.” Morton admitted that the 1960s “Star Trek” computers were a primary inspiration for the “Femputer,” and he clearly knew about episodes like “The Return of the Archons” (February 9, 1967) and “The Apple” (October 13, 1967). Both those episodes featured worlds trapped in an early stage of their development by an all-powerful computer. 

‘The Return of the Archons’ and ‘The Apple’

In “The Return of the Archons,” Kirk and company discover a planet ruled by a dictator named Landru who hypnotizes his subjects to be placid and eerily serene. Every so often, they are allowed a “Red Hour,” which is sort of like The Purge. Kirk later discovers that Landru is a computer that has been keeping his citizens in line. The ultra-computer in “The Apple” is named Vaal, a snake-shaped machine that has been overseeing a local alien species and making sure they remain in a nonsexual state of childlike innocence. Kirk will have to destroy Vaal and teach the aliens how to boink. 

To that end, Morton said: 

“Another shout-out to ‘Star Trek’ from this episode is that the planet is run by a giant computer. There was at least one episode where they land on a planet with primitive people whose society is run by a giant computer — or like, the 1960s idea of what a computer was, with it being as big as a room and there’s a bunch of flashing lights on it.”

Morton was thinking of the Landru computer (pictured above). He was especially impressed, however, with Bea Arthur. With a decades-long career, Arthur asked no questions about her silly dialogue. It was also revealed that the Femputer was actually being controlled by a robot (!), leading to one of Morton’s favorite lines of dialogue: 

“[W]e got Bea Arthur to play Femputer. She had a voice with a lower register and she had authority, so it was a great choice. I thought the line ‘Have you any idea how it feels to be a fembot living in a manbot’s manputer’s world?’ was unperformable, but she killed it on the first take.” 

R.I.P. Bea Arthur

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