Lifetime of Simpsons

S08 E05 – Bart After Dark

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Ah, silly week here on Lifetime of Simpsons continues with another super fun and goofy little romp. Surely that will continue on to tomorrow….right?

Things start off with Bart and Lisa enjoying watching some Itchy and Scratchy while Homer awkwardly lays on the couch behind them, that is until their TV freaks out because their “V-Chip” is blocking it. Remember V-Chips? I suppose that’s still a thing, but I remember those hitting the scene in the late 90’s as the worst thing your parents could do to destroy your television fun. But luckily this clearly wasn’t Homer’s idea, because he turns it off immediately so they can watch their violence. But it’s all for nothing, because once the episode starts it gets preempted with a special news report about an oil tanker crashing and spilling it’s oil everywhere, Exxon Valdez style because Captain McCallister was drunk at the helm. Lisa is very freaked out about this, and once she learns that there are lots of cute animals covered in oil just waiting to be cleaned by celebrities, she decides she needs to go.

Lisa goes and talks with Marge, trying to convince her that the two of them need to go help out, and that it could be her birthday and Christmas present. Unfortunately she already spent both of those presents on a peach tree, which is hilarious because she’s the biggest dork in the world. But Marge relents, and decides to take Lisa and Maggie off to clean baby seals, leaving the boys alone. Which is of course going to lead to shenanigans. Homer alone with Maggie was tragic, Homer alone with Bart is fun, especially when we get an episode where Homer and Bart are little pals. And things start off ridiculous with the two of them waiting until 10 pm to have dinner, which they do with a TV parked right on the dining room table. Homer also doesn’t make Bart brush his teeth, as long as he rinses his mouth with soda.

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And speaking of cleaning things, when Marge and Lisa get to the oil spill they’re shocked to find that all of the animals to get cleaned have already been called by celebrities, leaving only rocks to be cleaned by commoners like them. So they get to the rock cleaning while back in Springfield Homer and Bart are having fun making trash-angels in all the refuse that’s already piled up in the house. But as fun as that is Bart decides he needs some fresh air and heads out to the park to hang out with Milhouse and Nelson. Milhouse has a remote-controlled airplane, and is managing to keep it nice and level, which is boring the other two kids. But then Nelson grabs the controls and causes the plane to go haywire and land on the roof of a big creepy house. And while the other kids are worried that the house belongs to evil witches, Bart is brave enough to sneak in and get the plane back. He gets all the way to the roof, and even gets the plane, before slipping and falling off the house, breaking a gargoyle in the process. And right as Bart realizes he survived, an older woman comes running out to chastise him.

So the older lady, who we learns name is Belle, drags Bart back to his house to make Homer punish him. And as she converses with Homer while he only wears a paper grocery bag as pants, Homer laughs at the idea of punishing Bart. But when Belle threatens to talk to Marge Homer decides he needs to actually do something, and makes Bart go work for her to make up for the gargoyle. So Bart heads over to the house to do chores for Belle, and is shocked to find that she isn’t a witch with a creepy old house, because the house is actually a Burlesque club, complete with gambling, drinking, and scantily dressed women. Which leads to the amazing Bart line “I have been grossly misinformed about witches.”

And right away Bart becomes a pro at the Burlesque house, even forging a friendship with Belle. And man do we get a lot of goofy Burlesque scenes. I really love when Grandpa shows up, sees Bart, and leaves immediately, but when he confirms Homer knows that he’s here he just orders a drink and heads on in. And a wrinkle in the plot starts to form when we see Lisa and Marge give up on the rock cleaning and head back to Springfield, which isn’t going to be good for anyone. Especially because Homer finally finds out what Bart’s actually doing at the house when he get jealous that Bart’s spending all his time there and goes to check on him. And Homer’s cool with it, so Bart keeps working there.

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Unfortunately, things start falling apart when Principal Skinner, who’s apparently a regular, visits the club, and is shocked to find Bart there. He then narcs to the Lovejoys and the Flanders, who show up at the Simpson house to shame Homer. We also get this wonderful scene:

Homer: “Aw, this isn’t going to be about Jesus is it?”

Reverend Lovejoy: “All things are about Jesus. Except this.”

But Homer is immune to shame, and ignores them, that is until Marge and Lisa show up just in time for Marge to hear Homer admit that Bart’s working in a Burlesque house. And Marge gets pissed immediately, and storms right down to the house to yell at Belle, because Marge is suddenly really judgy and prudish. She has an awkward sit-down with Belle where Marge says that she’s sinful and shouldn’t be in this wholesome town, even though the Maison Derriere has been there forever, and Marge doesn’t really have any power to kick someone out of town for not conforming to her views on sex.

But if there’s one thing Marge is good at, it’s bringing shit up at the Town Hall meetings. So Marge, the Lovejoys, and the Flanders hold the meeting hostage and start to rant about the evil of the Burlesque House, and even have pictures of various men in town leaving the club. Which does lead to a silly scene of various men’s pictures coming up, their wives yelling their names in anger, and then Barney showing up and Moe having to yell Barney’s name since no one else would. But the religious weirdos win out, and rile up an angry mob to go destroy the Maison Derriere. The mob shows up and starts destroying the building until Homer and Belle stop them, and begin convincing the town about how much they need the Maison Derriere with the power of song! And boy is this a great song. And in the end the song convinces the rest of the town, and they decide to keep the building, since they love it now. Unfortunately Marge missed the show and shows up with a bulldozer to knock down the building, which she kind of does. So the episode ends with Marge getting the same punishment Bart does, and begins working as a ventriloquist at the Maison Derriere as the whole town gathers to enjoy their sleazy nightclub.

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Man this is a fun episode. I love all the weird little things lurking around in Springfield that we don’t get to see this often, and this is a great example. It’s almost David Lynchian that there’s a weird Burlesque House hiding in this quaint little town, that basically everyone is aware of and secretly enjoying their vices while pretending they don’t exist. And it’s great! I hate that weird American prudishness that permeates the country, especially the suburbs, where we all try to pretend that we aren’t humans and don’t enjoy vices. People want sleazy nightclubs where they can drink, gamble, and be open about their sexuality, and it’s great that they have a place like Maison Derriere. Plus it’s just a great episode, with some wonderful Bart and Homer being pals stuff. We get a great song out of it too! Just a great episode all around.

Take Away: Don’t let prudes ruin the things that give you joy.

 

“Bart After Dark” was written by Richard Appel and directed by Dominic Polcino, 1996.

 

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