Lifetime of Simpsons

S03 E16 – Bart the Lover

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So you know how a couple episodes ago I said Bart’s prank in “Radio Bart,” was the worst thing he’d ever done? Well he tops it pretty quick in this one! Holy crap this episode is messed up, and so good. I completely forgot how great this episode was. Kind of like “Call of the Simpsons,” I didn’t really think of this episode as a great one, but man was it a blast.

The episode starts right off with a great gag of Bart’s class watching an old “educational” film strip about the importance of Zinc. By the time I got to school these had been phased out of circulation in classrooms, so I never had to watch one there, but I’ve still seen plenty in what’s probably my second favorite TV show of all time, Mystery Science Theater 3000. They sure did love making fun of those terrible film strips, and man was this Zinc thing spot on. Except for the part where the kid tries to kill himself, things didn’t usually get that bleak. But the bell rings, and class is over, so the kids start pouring out, and we find that this episode we’re going to follow Mrs. Krabappel, and her incredibly sad life. She even tries to get the kids to stay and hang out with her. She goes and gets soup for one, and heads back to her sad apartment with her cats. But while she’s sitting in her apartment she flips through her newspaper, and sees the personal ads, and decides to submit one.

Back at school the next day the kids all get to sit through an assembly about yo-yo’s, which was just a thinly veiled marketing ploy to get the kids to all buy yo-yo’s. And boy does it work. It really made me laugh hard watching this episode to see the kids freak out about the yo-yo’s, because I remember them being huge when I was in fourth grade too. I don’t remember having to go to an assembly about them, but it was right around this age that the things became essential to elementary school life, right before they were supplanted by pretending to understand how the Pokemon card game worked. And while all the kids get into the fad, Bart in particular becomes really good, and starts drawing crowds to see his new tricks. But there’s one person in the school who isn’t into the yo-yo’s, Mrs. Krabappel. Especially after the kids keep asking about the Pilgrims and their thoughts on yo-yo’s. So she bans them from the classroom, and immediately Bart decides to try a trick. It doesn’t go well, and ends up causing the death of the two class fish, Wrinkles and Stinky. So Krabappel gives Bart detention, and takes away his yo-yo. I love the interaction when she asks if their positions were reversed, would Bart give the yo-yo back. And he has a crazy fantasy of a giant Bart not letting a tiny Krabappel grab his yo-yo.

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Meanwhile, Mrs. Krabappel’s dating is not going well, since we see her have a date with Jasper, who was totally Catfishing her with a picture of him from the 40’s. His Zoot suit was pretty rad though. And Bart’s detention is beginning as he’s forced to spend time with Krabappel after school. But when Ms. Hoover comes and tells her Happy Hour in the teacher’s lounge is starting, Krabappel leaves Bart alone. He goes digging through her desk and finds his yo-yo, but then also finds her personal ad, and Bart decides to do the most messed up thing he’s ever done on this show. He creates a fake man named Woodrow (after the President, since this episode there’s portraits of all the presidents on the wall) a man who is perfect for Krabappel and hates yo-yo’s. But while Bart is being horrible, we introduce the B plot, which is all about Homer building a doghouse for Santa’s Little Helper since its cold outside, and he doesn’t want to buy one. And while Homer starts building, Bart gets a response back from Krabappel, who is very interested in Woodrow, and even sends a sexy photo. But while Homer is building the doghouse, he starts swearing like crazy, just like I do when I have to build something, and Todd hears him. Todd then swears at Ned and Maude, and Ned immediately calls Reverend Lovejoy for advice. Man I love how apathetic Lovejoy is to anything Flanders ever has to say. He recommends Flanders reads page 900 of the Bible, and then hangs up. “Damn Flanders.” Flanders then starts stalking Todd, trying to figure out what was the cause of the profanity, but crosses out TV since as Maude says, “He used to watch Davey and Goliath, but he thought the idea of a talking dog was blasphemous.”

But things are heating up between Woodrow and Mrs. Krabappel, so Bart starts asking for advice for the love letters. Lisa initially makes fun of him and tries to guess which girl he has a crush on, so he leaves. But he asks Marge about love letters Homer wrote, and we get one of my favorite jokes of the Simpsons ever, which is the postcard Homer sent Marge from a brewery that we hear narrated by Homer. “Marge, you got a butt that won’t quit. They got these big chew pretzels that…(unintelligible)…FIVE DOLLARS?!” So good. Bart then even starts pumping Krabappel for information during detention to add to the letters. But back at the B plot, Ned finally realizes that it was Homer who was responsible for the swearing, and asks Homer to quit. They make a weird agreement, that’s mainly due to Homer being a jerk, and Homer agrees not to swear if Flanders shaves his mustache. I love that Bart watches bad old romance movies to get lines for his letters, and when Krabappel asks for a photo of Woodrow, he finds a book of NHL stars in the classroom, and puts in a picture of Gordie Howe. “Strap on your skates Gordie, you’re going in.” But things really reach the worst when Krabappel says they should meet, and Bart has Woodrow make a date. He then goes and watches Krabappel sit alone in a restaurant and laughs at her. But he then goes and watches “Ernest Needs a Kidney” and when he leaves, she’s still sitting there crying, and Bart finally realizes that what he’s done is evil.

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We wrap up the B plot with Marge having Homer use a swear jar, and after a hilarious montage of Homer hurting himself and using the jar, including a bee hive falling on him while he sleeps in a hammock. But by the end of the montage Homer has gone crazy, and even steps a nail through his foot and doesn’t swear. But then Marge shows up with a doghouse they bought with the swear jar money, and things are fine. But back at school Mrs. Krabappel is starting to get really depressed, and even mentions it to Bart when she says “Bart you are the closest thing to a man in my life, and that’s so depressing I think I’m going to cry.” So Bart finally comes to the family, and admits what he’s done, begging them for help to fix his mistake. So they decide to write a letter to her to break things off as softly as possible. I love that Homer’s suggestion was “Dear Baby, welcome to Dump-ville, population you!” They then start working on the letter, using bits and pieces of all of their ideas, and we even learn some important things about love, such as Marge’s line “When a woman loves a man, it doesn’t matter that a crocodile bit off his face.” They also keep shooting down Homer’s suggestion of “Three words: I. Am. Gay.” But they finally make a good letter that they all agree on, and Bart slips it under Krabappel’s door. She reads it, and while sad isn’t crushed, and has a new lease on her life. She then comes to detention and bonds with Bart. The episode then hilariously ends with Gordie Howe’s career stats.

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This was such an amazing episode. And so sad. Up until now Mrs. Krabappel has always been a villain in the show, since she’s just there to destroy all of Bart’s shenanigans, but this episode really showed her to be a tragic figure. Nothing is good in her life, and then when something finally is good, it’s actually a prank. And man is it great that Bart grew a conscience, and fixes his mistake.

Take Away: While I want to say when a woman loves a man, it doesn’t matter that a crocodile bit off his face, or that Gordie Howe was a good hockey player, I guess I’ll go with NEVER DO THIS TO ANYONE! Jesus Bart, what a messed up prank.

“Bart the Lover” was written by Jon Vitti and directed by Carlos Baeza.

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