Hey everybody! Here we are again, during the most bland and uninteresting week of Simpsons episodes basically ever! And what better way to demonstrate that then by having one of those triptych episodes. And, even better, they managed to cram a fourth story in there two! Lucky us! But they’re at least doing something a little different, because the frame story revolves around Lisa and Marge going to a salon to get a mani/pedi, while also telling stories about great and powerful women.
Queen Elizabeth I
Our first story, told by Marge, tells the tale of Queen Elizabeth the First, one of the most well known queens in England’s history. Here played by Selma. We see that Queen Selma is being pressured into getting married and having an heir. But she hates every single one of her suitors, so that makes things difficult. Well, until she’s visited by Sir Walter Raleigh, played by Homer, an explorer who has been visiting the New World, and has even brought tobacco back to England, which Selma is a big fan of. Selma takes a shine to Homer, but he’s too busy hitting on Marge, who is one of the princesses under Selma. Selma finds out about their relationship though, and decides to send Homer to the Tower of London to die. Well, that is until they hear word that the King of Spain took offense at being rejected as Selma’s husband, and is sending the Spanish Armada to come take England by force. So they have bigger fish to fry than Homer and Marge’s affair. War then begins, and Homer has to board a ship and head out to fight the Armada, when something dumb happens. Homer lights a pipe, and ends up lighting his ship on fire. All of the British soldiers bail off the ship, and it gets swept into the Armada, lighting all of their ships on fire, and saving England. So, Homer gets a commendation and Marge’s hand in marriage, and Selma went on being powerful and unmarried.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
The second tale, told by Lisa, is basically just a retelling of Snow White, particularly the Disney version, with Lisa as Snow White. We see Lisa being menaced by a wicked queen, who’s just some generic character, by sending Willie the Huntsman to go kill her and remove her heart. But when Willie gets to Snow White’s house he decides he can’t kill her, and lets her flee into the woods. Lisa wanders around for a while until she finds a little house. She breaks in and heads up to the bedroom, pulling a Goldilocks until she finds a nice bed to sleep in. Which is when the dwarves come in. We have Crabby (Moe), Greedy (Mr. Burns), Drunky (Barney), Hungry (Homer), Lenny (Lenny), Kearney (Kearney), and Doctor Hibbert. They find Lisa in their home, and after briefly contemplating murdering her, they welcome her to their lives, and they become fast friends. But then one day a witch shows up, and ends up forcibly cramming a poisoned apple down Lisa’s throat. Lisa falls into a deep slumber, and the queen has to flee, before getting mauled to death by some cuddly woodland animals. After which they put Lisa in a glass coffin, and she stays there for eternity, because she doesn’t need any man to save her.
Marge is a little unhappy with Lisa’s choice to end the Snow White story without a husband, and decides to tell the story of a very happy married couple. The Macbeth’s! Well, actually, this story is about Homer and Marge as they act in a staged rendition of Macbeth. Marge is working on costumes, and Homer has been stuck with playing a tree. Marge is irritated that Sideshow Mel is play Macbeth, and not Homer, and decides that they should murder Mel so Homer can get the lead. Homer agrees with this, and goes to kill Mel with his bone, getting the opportunity to be the new Macbeth. Although, Homer’s pretty terrible at it, and has to read most of his lines from a script taped onto his shield. Even though he also has lines from Bye Bye Birdie and the Matrix Reloaded. Which leads to some terrible reviews, especially for Homer. Although, Dr. Hibbert got great reviews, so Marge sends Homer to kill him next. Homer pumps a bunch of laughing gas into Hibbert’s office, slowly asphyxiating him. But this didn’t really change anything, because now the reviews shine light on literally everyone but Homer. So, Marge sends Homer to the cast-party so he can kill all the stragglers, making him the only person on stage. And, without anyone there to upstage him and no one in the audience, Homer does a fantastic job and knocks it out of the park. But Marge’s joy at seeing Homer doing well is cut short when she’s haunted by the ghosts of everyone she had Homer kill, leading to her having a heart attack. Marge’s ghost tries to convince Homer that he can have a great career as a Shakespearean actor, but he just kills himself so he doesn’t have to read any more plays.
But things aren’t over yet! Because when we cut back to the salon we see that Maggie wanted a story read about her. So Marge looks around, spots a copy of the Fountainhead, and she begins to spin a tale about that, even though Lisa accurately points out that it’s just a bible for right-wing losers. But Marge doesn’t care about that, and tells the tale of Maggie Roark, a brilliant baby who loves building impressive building out of blocks at her daycare. However, the owner of the daycare, a man named Ellsworth Toohey, hates that Maggie has so much talent, and just tries to quash it to make her more normal. The two engage in a bit of a war where Maggie keeps outdoing her skills while Toohey keeps destroying them. And it all leads to Toohey holding a weird little court case between the babies, and he gives a speech about how mediocrity is the best. Maggie then gives her own speech, voiced by Jodie Foster, about exceptionalism, and all the garbage Ayn Rand people love. Maggie wins the case, and ends up becoming a famous architect in the future. And the episode ends with Marge scolding Maggie for painting a perfect “Starry, Starry Night” with nail-polish.
Listen, most of these triptych episode have been pretty rough lately. They’ve been getting increasingly strange and strain the theme as much as they can, all while just putting in lackluster segments that don’t have the weight or craft as the Treehouse of Horror episodes. And this one is not really any different. I think the idea of telling stories of powerful women is a good idea, but they barely keep that theme going. Telling the story of Elizabeth the First is great, but it quickly becomes all about Homer saving the day. Snow White is a weird call anyway, but especially so when it just keeps the story of Snow White running from her problems and being bested. You would have thought that they would have changed things and had her get the best of the witch or something. And I really don’t know what’s up with the Lady Macbeth thing, because that’s basically all about Homer being nagged by Marge, and she’s barely in it! I guess the segment that best uses the theme is the Maggie one, but that one is so truncated and weird. I do enjoy the dig at how stupid Ayn Rand is and how people who believe in objectivism are assholes, but other than that there wasn’t much to that one. It’s just a weird episode, that seemed to not understand what the theme was, and then stuffed a bunch of lackluster and rushed little segments in. So, in short, it’s a triptych episode from this era.
Take Away: Don’t blow off the Spanish, don’t trust witches, don’t kill people, and don’t read Ayn Rand.
“Four Great Women and a Manicure” was written by Valentina Garza and directed by Raymond S Persi, 2009.