Lifetime of Simpsons

S01 E09 – Life on the Fast Lane

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Dang. This is a heavy episode. I don’t remember it hitting so hard as a kid. I assume that would have something to do with the fact that I haven’t seen this episode since I’ve been married. Well, let’s talk about marital infidelity everyone!

The episode starts with the kids making Marge breakfast in bed, which is honestly something I’ve never done. My mom had no interest in whatever horrible breakfast my brother and I would have cooked up. And with good reason. But the Simpsons kids do a good job, and there’s a good joke of Bart trying to lick the still moving beaters and getting his tongue stuck. I also enjoy the idea that Bart bought Marge a jug of perfume. So the kids bring the breakfast upstairs to Marge, and Homer realizes that he’s forgotten Marge’s birthday. Now, maybe things were harder back in the days before we had little computers in our pockets that kept all of our important dates, but I don’t understand the trope of the husband not remembering his anniversary or his wife’s birthday. I may be terrible with remembering phone numbers, but dates aren’t hard, c’mon Homer, step it up.

Anyway, Homer runs off to the mall, passing some great stores like Jerky Hut and Girdle’s n’ Such. And in true Homer fashion, he gets Marge a bowling ball. The family then goes to the Singing Sirloin with Patty and Selma, and holy crap the Singing Sirloin would be irritating. Why would I want to have my waiter sing at me. Although I do love that they were singing to a family that was there after a funeral. But the family gives Marge their gifts, while Marge deflects Bart’s terrible perfume, ending with Homer dropping the new bowling ball, which he had engraved with his name, onto Marge’s cake. Not too smart Homer.

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Marge and Homer have a big fight that ends with Marge deciding that she’s going to learn how to bowl, out of spite. And the next night goes to the alley to try out her new ball, and runs into Jacques, a super creepy dude who apparently scams on single ladies at the bowling alley? Jacques apparently thinks Marge is an easy target, and begins trying to woo her, while teaching her all the important aspects of bowling, like which frame is the beer frame. Then there’s probably the best joke of the whole episode, when Jacques yells for onion rings his accent goes away, so…he’s faking?

Home starts taking care of the kids at night while Marge continues going out for her bowling lessons, and I think it’s great that Homer needs instructions to take care of his own kids. I remember once when my mom was out of town my dad had to call my grandma to ask how to make scrambled eggs, because we wanted them, and he didn’t like them so had no idea how to make them, but other than that, I can’t think of any time one of my parents were unable to take care of us without instructions. We also get a montage of bowling romance, leading to Jacques taking Marge home, while the moon looks like a bowling ball and his car seats look like pins. Jacques convinces Marge to meet him for brunch the next day, abandoning the charade of bowling lessons. We also get two great lines from Jacques, “My heart..and my hips cry proceed!” and his explanation of brunch “It’s not quite breakfast, and it’s not quite lunch, but you get a slice of cantaloupe at the end,” are both pretty fantastic lines. So Marge goes to brunch, and after running into a super judgey Helen Lovejoy, Jacques proposes that Marge meet him the next day at his apartment, leading Marge to faint, and have a crazy musical fantasy about life with Jacques, capped off with finding Jacques’ trophies for lovemaking.

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While all of this is going on, Homer is getting increasingly depressed, and the kids are getting worried about the collapse of their parents marriage. It’s super sad, but kind of alleviated by the joke of Homer getting racked in the head by a baseball and collapsing without a sound. But the next day Marge drives off to meet Jacques while driving down the most ironic street of all time. She then gets to a fork in the road that either leads to Jacques’ apartment, the Fiesta Terrace, or the Nuclear Plant. We then cut to Homer sad at the plant, and then Marge walks in, parodying An Officer and a Gentleman, and the reconciled couple embrace, and Homer marches off with Marge in his arms, finishing the episode off with the great line “tell him I’m going to the backseat of my car, with the woman I love, and I won’t be back for ten minutes!”

So this was a pretty great episode. Marge episodes are often even more derided than Lisa episodes in terms of being called “boring.” And yikes does it deal with a hard topic. I feel like not many sitcoms tried dealing with infidelity, and this one doesn’t pull it’s punches. It really pulls the family apart, but you also completely understand it from Marge’s point of view. She isn’t treated like some terrible woman going against her man, or some other weird mysoginistic viewpoint that usually gets put into stories about infidelity, you really understand how shitty a husband Homer can be, but by the end I guess he learns his lesson, at least for this episode, and just like always, things go back to the status quo.

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Take Away: Don’t let your marriage fall apart like this. Treat your spouse well and with respect, just generally don’t be a shitty spouse or partner. Oh, and avoid sketchy dudes who troll around bowling alleys.

“Life on the Fast Lane” was written by John Swartzwelder and was directed by David Silverman

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