Lifetime of Simpsons

S04 E13 – Selma’s Choice

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Oh look, another sad episode about Selma not wanting to die a loveless old spinster. Sounds like fun!

We start the episode right off with a commercial for Duff Gardens, a local theme park that’s basically just a montage of poor old Lance Murdoch getting injured even worse while riding the unsafe rides. We see all kinds of horrible rides and the hilarious Beerquarium, which is just a giant tank of beer full of suffering fish. We pan out and see Homer and the kids psyched to go to Duff Gardens, but their joy gets wrecked pretty quickly when Marge comes in and announces that their Great Aunt Gladys has just passed away, and they’ll have to go to the funeral instead of the amusement park. I love that the kids are fine with this decision, knowing they can’t always get their ways, while Homer bitches and moans.

The family head off to get Patty and Selma while Homer and Bart are singing the “On top of Spaghetti” song, which Marge finds a little distasteful, so they switch to “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead,” which is hilarious. They get to Patty and Selma’s and Bart and Lisa have to sit in the trunk with the luggage, which must suck. I love that they almost immediately go to a diner, because that family loves the eat. We also see the goofy scene of Homer failing at figuring out the maze on the child placemat. After their meal they finally get to wherever the funeral is, and we catch just a glimpse of the sermon, where the priest doesn’t realize Gladys is a woman until the very end. Not a great start. The family then goes and looks at the open casket, which is seriously one of the creepiest things to do. I’ve been to a lot of funerals, and the open casket ones really stick out in your mind. It’s like the uncanny valley, you know that it’s a lifeless body, but its just laying there like it’s normal. Creepy. But it’s great seeing Bart play with the corpse, then scare Lisa by making it sound like it’s still alive.

After the casket the family goes to a room to watch Gladys’ video-will, and of course Lionel Hutz is the executor of her will, because that dude has the busiest law-practice in the world. I love that the video starts with Gladys reading a poem, and Homer just fast-forwards it, with the approval of everyone but Marge. The rest of the Bouvier family usually hate Homer, but I thought it was really funny that they agreed with him in that moment. Anyway, she starts bequeathing stuff and after Hutz tries to trick them into giving everything to him, they learn that Marge gets a collection of potato chips that look like things (which Homer already eats), Mrs. Bouvier gets Gladys’ iguana Jub Jub, and Patty and Selma get a grandfather clock and a warning not to be childless like she was. The family then heads back to Springfield, and on the way Selma decides that she needs a baby.

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We cut right to Selma making a profile for video dating, which seems like the sketchiest thing in the world. I don’t see the stigma for online dating anymore, that’s been pretty accepted as a normal thing, but man would video-dating be weird as hell. And I love that the only person who watches her tape is Groundskeeper Willie, who wars some horrible satin shirt. When that doesn’t work Selma moves on to a gypsy in the mall who is going to sell her a love potion, but admits that it doesn’t work after taking a truth potion by accident. Selma is then desperate enough to go on a date with Hans Moleman after seeing he’s single while failing his drivers test once again. They go out to dinner where he’s incredibly awkward and blind, but she still gives him a shot because she’s that baby crazy. But luckily for Selma she gets her wits together when she has a fantasy of having a bunch of ugly and blind children with Hans, and ends the date without kissing him and abandoning him someplace that isn’t his house.

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With poor old Moleman removed from the running, she still needs to find a man to impregnate her. Lisa suggests artificial insemination, which Homer assumes is sex with a robot, but Selma likes this idea and heads off to a sperm bank. We then get a weird scene where it turns out Barney is the most prolific donor, and a lot of women are having little Gumbles, which was the plot of a bad Vince Vaughn movie, right?

Anyway, the Selma plot takes a brief break and we’re back to the Simpsons house, where the kids wake up Homer and Marge, excited to finally be going to Duff Gardens. Unfortunately when they pull the covers off Homer, he appears to be dead. Of course he isn’t, and actually is just suffering from intense food poisoning, because he’s apparently been eating a giant 10 foot party sub for days, even as it begins to spoil and grow mushrooms. Instead of making the kids miss the park again though, Marge calls Selma and has her take the kids to the park while Marge takes care of stupid Homer, who tries to eat the sandwich again.

They get to Duff Gardens, and it’s hilarious. I love when the Simpsons makes fun of amusement parks, because it’s so spot on. We see the Seven Duffs (Surly is the best), the Beeramid (which is a giant pyramid made of beer cans that killed a bunch of immigrant workers), the crazy beer goggles, and the weird hall of robotic Presidents which has a rapping Abe Lincoln. We take a brief break from Duff Gardens to see that Homer is feeling better while watching Yentl (gross) so Marge shows him the other movie she rented, The Erotic Adventures of Hercules, staring Troy McClure! Wait, Troy McClure starred in a soft-core porno? That’s weird. Anyway, back to Duff Gardens. They’re riding a creepy It’s a Small World while Bart dares Lisa to drink the “water” the boat is on, which she does, and she immediately starts tripping out.

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She runs off into the park unsupervised while high as shit, and Selma chases after her. Bart takes that time to go ride a roller coaster he’s too short for, which he thinks is an accomplishment until he realizes that the safety bar doesn’t fit over him, so when the ride starts he fall right out and has to cling to the bar. The kid running the ride sees Bart almost falling out of the car and shuts it down at a bad time, so Bart is hanging from the apex of a loop. Duff Gardens security catch both Bart and Lisa, and start yelling at Selma for being a bad guardian. She takes the kids home, and has a heart to heart with Homer where she admits that this day was too hard, and she doesn’t think she has it in her to have kids. Which is pretty bleak. But we end on a sweet note where Selma decides to raise Jub Jub the Iguana as a surrogate baby.

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This episode is kind of odd. It didn’t do it for me as well as “Principal Charming,” and I still think one of the sticking points with me is that I don’t really like Selma as an emotional character. Her and Patty are fun as foils to Homer, just super shitty sisters-in-law and mess with him and insult him. And these episodes that try to humanize them just don’t work great for me. I’m sure there’s people who like Patty and Selma as characters, but I don’t think I’m one of them. I’m trying to remember if there are any future Patty or Selma episodes I like that make be enjoy the characters, but I don’t think there is. The episode was still fun and had some great jokes, because every Simpsons episode still has fun stuff in it, but that emotional core just didn’t ring for me. But that could just be my own weird thing.

Take Away: Having kids is hard, and you kind of have to think about your age, and the age you will be when the kids are older before having them. Oh, and don’t eat spoiled sandwiches.

“Selma’s Choice” was written by David M Stern and directed by Carlos Baeza, 1993

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