Man this is a sad episode, and one that revolves around an aspect of the show that I always have an issue with. I really don’t see the Simpsons as poor or lower class, and episodes that revolves around them being financially strained are often a little odd, and this one is particular seems very strange, since it’s so mired in having them be lower class citizens. I don’t know, just weird to me.
We start off with the family, and Grandpa, watching the misadventures of Bumblebee Man, which involves him trying to pull out a painful tooth. Everyone is cracking up at his antics, except Grandpa, who gets up to try and fix the TV, and tinker with the rabbit ears, which always make me laugh and get flashbacks to messing with those and trying to get a good signal. But while he’s messing with the TV, Grandpa ends up knocking it over and destroying it. The family then immediately drop Grandpa off at the Retirement Castle, and then head off to buy a new TV. Bart and Lisa are excited for a new fancy one, but are saddened to learn that they’re instead going to the outlet mall in Ogdenville, so the family starts an hours-long trek to that blighted town. And once they get there Homer right away just buys a TV that’s the exact same as the one they had, since he wasn’t impressed by the new Sorny.
But this isn’t an episode about TVs, so we get to the real plot when Marge and Lisa are sifting through the horrible clothes that the outlet mall have. And while searching Lisa comes across a fancy pink Channel suit that somehow made it there. Marge is really impressed with the suit, but doesn’t want to buy it since its $90. But Lisa explains that Marge never treats herself for anything, and she does so much for the family, so Marge decides to go for it, and buys the suit. However she runs into an issue when she finds that she has no reason to wear a suit, since as Homer eloquently puts it “what’s the point of going out, we’re just going to end up back here anyway,” which is great. So she just starts wearing the suit all the time, during chores and errands.
And when she goes to the Kwik-E-Mart to grocery shop, she runs into a woman that she knew from highschool named Evelyn. Evelyn was one of the rich, popular girls in school, and doesn’t really remember Marge, but is impressed by her suit and her ability to use a gas pump, so she ends up inviting Marge out to a country club. We also see Marge having to help Mr. Burns and his crazy Model T get fueled up, which is wonderful.
So the family find out that they have to go to the country club, and Marge right away start judging them all, making sure they’re palatable to the rich society. Homer can’t wear a tie and short sleeved shirt and Bart isn’t allowed to grift people. And now that they’re perfect, they head to the club, and there’s a great gag when Homer almost hits Krusty with their car, while trying to park on the golf-course, creating a great running gag of Homer accidently hurting Krusty. The family then hit the country club, and everyone buy Marge becomes incredibly bored and just lurk around the club, trying to find something to do, while she is introduced to a room full of horrible rich women with awful names. And for reasons that don’t make sense to me, Marge is charmed and wants to join the club.
But the rest of the family aren’t that keen. They’re just confused with the whole country club scene, and man do I love Bart’s line “a man in the bathroom kept handing me towels til I paid him to stop.” However their complaints don’t really matter, because Marge really wants to join, so they keep going. She tells them that she had a good time by fitting in, and that they should try that too, leading them to go back to the country club. And surprisingly, Homer and Lisa quickly find things in the club that they enjoy. Not Bart though, he just kind of fades away for the rest of the episode. Lisa sees that there are horses she can ride, and Homer gets obsessed with golf after getting some lessons from Tom Kite. Which happened after Homer stole Kite’s clubs.
Marge however is running into a small snag though, because when she starts winning at bridge this one horrible woman who kind of seems like she’s Dorothy Parker, makes an insult about Marge wearing the same suit over and over again. So Marge heads home with the mission to fix her suit. Which ends up working, since Marge is a good seamstress. But that does create the dangerous precedent that she has to modify the suit every time they go to the club. But before that ends up happening, we see that Homer is now great at golf, and is showing off for Lenny and Carl at the Plant. This gains Homer the attention of Mr. Burns, who claims to be amazing at golf and is desperate for a good opponent. So he has Smithers invite Homer for a game.
Disaster strikes the Marge plot though when she’s working on making a gown out of the suit for a big event where they may be inducted into the club, while Lisa is excitedly talking about horses with her. I really loved this scene, because Lisa is so rarely treated like a real little girl, just excited about horses, and it was super adorable. Unfortunately Marge loses her temper and yells at Lisa, which ends up causing her to destroy the suit because she wasn’t paying attention. So she goes to Patty and Selma, desperate for a dress, and is less than thrilled with the horrific dresses they own.
And while Marge is looking for dresses we check in on Homer’s golf plot, which isn’t going well. He’s doing pretty well, but Mr. Burns is shockingly beating him, in way that doesn’t seem possible. Suspicious. Homer gets really pissed about this, and ends up throwing his club into the air, which just smashes into Krusty’s head. However it turns out that Homer was right to be suspicious, because Smithers has actually been cheating for years, and making Burns win. Mr. Burns is pretty let down by this news, since he’s just assumed that he was an amazing golfer. He then bribes Homer to keep this quiet by promising to get the family into the club, which Homer knows Marge wants.
Marge’s quest for a new dress is also not going well, because she checks the outlet mall again, and they unfortunately don’t have another Chanel suit, which causes her to go to the city and buy a real down from a Chanel store. And the family really loves the gown, but Lisa right away starts asking questions about it, which starts to peeve Marge, causing her to lose her temper again. The family heads to the club, and she doesn’t let Homer park near the building, embarrassed about the car, which causes them to walk through the golf course while she berates them about behaving and making her look good. The family starts to get sad, since Marge is just basically insulting them, but they still apologize to her. This finally melts Marge’s heart, and she realizes how horrible she’s been to them, and announces she doesn’t care about the club anymore, and loves them the way they are. So they leave the club, not even going in, and end up having dinner at Krusty Burger, even though they totally were about to be inducted into the club.
This episode is pretty good, but it kind of leaves a sour taste in my mouth, since it’s so out of character for Marge. The other family members are pretty great in this episode, and get some great gags out of the weird setting of the country club. But man Marge becomes unlikeable by the end of this one. I really loved the idea of her finally splurging on herself and getting something just for her, which is an idea that works pretty well. It’s like her getting to go to Rancho Relaxo. But it’s apparently a really slippery slope, because after getting that suit she starts only thinking about herself for pretty much the rest of the episode. She becomes really shitty to the family, all because she wants to fit in, which is probably the most dangerous force there is. Plus, I really relate with Lisa in this one, because my parents tried to join a country club when I was in late highschool and college, and man are they pretentious. Country clubs are the worst, and seem designed to make people turn into Marge from this episode.
Take Away: Outlet malls have great finds sometimes, and avoid country clubs like crazy.
“Scenes from the Class Struggle of Springfield,” was written by Jennifer Crittendon and directed by Susie Dietter, 1996.