This week we got to learn about love, mental health, Guatemalan Insanity Pepper caused spirit quests, and aliens. So what are we ending the week on? Pretzels and mob-warfare! The Simpsons were really hitting the important issues guys.
We start off with a meeting of the Investorettes, a group of women investors in Springfield that’s comprised of Helen, Edna, Maude, Agnes, Luanne, and Marge. They’re hanging out at the Municipal House of Pancakes while congratulating themselves over their successes in the stock market. They’ve made a killing on Mexican wrestlers, and now have some extra money to spend that they think should go to buying a franchise at the next franchise festival. Unfortunately Marge is a little too timid when it comes to investment, and cautions them against buying a franchise. And this is apparently the last straw, and the Investorettes kick Marge out of their cool club with the $500 initial investment she made to join. Poor Marge.
But getting kicked out of the Investorettes really pisses Marge off, to the point that she decides to go to the franchise expo and get one for herself, even though that’s the reason she left in the first place, but whatever, spite is a powerful motivator. So the whole family goes to the expo for some reason, and we see them wandering around, looking at all the awful businesses they could invest in. We see people who straighten picture frames, Disco Stu tries to sell Homer a disco record business, and finally we see the Investorettes looking at a falafel food truck called Fleet-A-Pita. They get really into the Flee-A-Pita, especially the fact that they white-wash the Middle Eastern food as much as possible. So they decide to officially purchase a franchise, which really irritates Marge, since was kind of interested in it. But she comes across another mobile-food franchise, the Pretzel Wagon, ran by Frank Ormand, voiced by the wonderful Jack Lemmon, who manages to convince Marge that pretzels are the way to go, and she agrees.
Marge then gets ready to enter the fun-filled work of pretzel-selling, and starts by watching Frank Ormand’s wonderfully depressing instructional video. He teaches them how to set up an office, and cook the pretzels, which Marge is able to do pretty easily. They end up throwing a fake parade in order to pass out pretzel fliers and drum up business, and once that’s done and they’ve managed to make a bunch of pretzels, her and the kids head to the Power Plant to make some sales. Homer drums up business and gets everyone to line up and buy food out of his wife’s car, which is totally legit. Unfortunately the Flee-A-Pita have shown up and end up stealing all her business, because the Investorettes are spiteful monsters.
And things just get worse from there. They end up having to give away 300 pretzels to Cleetus and his brood of children because he had hundreds of coupons. They try to sell them at a baseball game, but Mr. Burns ends up winning a free van, which causes the audience to get so mad they pelt the field with the pretzels, injuring Hall of Famer Whitey Ford. And since Marge doesn’t want to capitalize on Whitey Whackers, she loses faith and gets really depressed. And Homer decides that he needs to do something to help Marge, and ends up going to Frank Ormand himself for help. But when he gets to Ormand’s house he finds that he’s apparently just died in a car accident, leaving Marge helpless. So Homer, with nowhere else to turn to, ends up going to the church, where he responds to a church bulletin ad for Fat Tony, who is more than happy to help out with Marge’s pretzel woes.
And pretty quickly we see the benefits of getting in bed with the mob, because they start making the pretzel business get booming. They get a union in New York to order hundreds of pretzels, and end up intimidating all the other food trucks in town. They break Moleman’s hotdog stand, ruin some pizza at Luigi’s, and kidnap some Girl Scouts, letting them loose over the county lines. They even intimidate Principal Skinner into making the Elementary School solely eat pretzels. And it all escalates with them getting the Fleet-A-Pita ingredients seized at port before blowing their truck up. But who cares! They Simpsons are raking in the dough, all thanks to pretzels.
But, shockingly, it turns out working with the mob is a bad call, because as Homer is flaunting all his newfound pretzel money at Moe’s, Fat Tony shows up to collect their cut. Homer is able to confuse Fat Tony and get out of paying him, but that just pisses the mobster off. So they call Marge out on an order in the middle of nowhere, and when she shows up they run her off the road and threaten her. They give her twelve hours to give them all the profits that the pretzel business made. So Marge comes home and yells at Homer for getting her involved with the mob before they begin trying to figure out what to do about the money. And in a shocking lack of judgement they decide to not pay the mobsters, and just cook them pretzels instead. So let’s see how that works out! The mobsters show up the next morning, and really aren’t cool with the lack of money, but before they can punish the Simpsons everything is interrupted by the Investorettes, who are there to settle the score. They’re pissed the Mafia blew up their truck, so they’ve hired the Yakuza to come kill Fat Tony and his mob, which leads to a full-blown mob-war on their front lawn. So Mage and Homer go inside, even though they didn’t get to see the little guy with the Yakuza do something amazing, and everything is worked out apparently.
This episode…didn’t hold up great for me. It’s so weird, much weirder than I remembered. I liked the idea of Marge getting a job selling pretzels, but it quickly became evident that they didn’t have enough plot for this idea when it start floundering in the second act. I suppose the story could have been really depressing and just been nothing but Marge failing more and more, but the whole Mafia twist just feels weird. I’m always happy to see Fat Tony and his mobsters, but it just felt incredibly misplaced. And the ending makes absolutely no sense, because I guess the Yakuza and the Mafia just forget the massive amount of money that the Simpsons owe them? I don’t know, this one just didn’t do it for me. There were some funny stuff in the episode, but as a whole it was kind of a dud. Hopefully we get better stuff next week!
Take Away: Selling pretzels are a terrible business idea.
“The Twisted World of Marge Simpson,” was written by Jennifer Crittendon and directed by Chuck Sheetz, 1997.