Well after yesterday’s silly little Prohibition episode, we’re back with one that tackles a pretty serious issue. Although I will say that I was shocked that this episode happened so late into the series. I really thought Skinner and Krabappel had been together for much longer than this, season 8 seems way too late to me.
This episode starts off by really pounding it in that Skinner is the most boring man on Earth, as he rambles on in a monotone during some interminable morning announcements that leave all the kids asleep. And after Mrs. Krabappel wakes them up with some fireworks, Martin moves the plot along by inviting all the kids to his birthday party, which should be a much sadder affair. I wasn’t as aggressively lame as Martin as a kid, but I was probably held in a similar esteem by the other kids, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to waste my time inviting anyone to a party. And when the birthday comes up Bart and Milhouse decide to head over, since they have nothing better to do, and were just hanging out with Homer while he drove a riding mower around pretending to be an astronaut. Which really made me laugh, because it seemed to be 100% Homer’s idea.
So they get to Martin’s party, which is surprisingly full of kids who apparently had nothing better to do. Bart then wanders around, marveling at how lame the party is, and having awkward chit chat with Edna, where neither really have anything to say to the other. And when Bart just leaves Edna to go stand by himself, she decides to go hang out with the only other adult at the party, Skinner. They also awkwardly talk and find that they’re both immensely lonely people, which gets worse when we find out Skinner apparently lives next door to Martin. And as the two are talking, Agnes pops her head over the fence, and claims that she’s going to come over and ruin Skinner’s fun, so he and Edna go hide in Martin’s weird playhouse. Unfortunately right on time all the kids at the party start vomiting, since Martin’s parents thought it was a good idea to serve oysters instead of cake. So all the kids are taken out of the parents by ambulances, leaving Bart the only kid there. And as he wanders the remnants of the party, he finds Edna and Skinner in the playhouse, who are drinking tea together, and kissing.
The next day at school Edna and Seymour are flirting in the lunchroom, when they hear Bart start to tell all the kids about the horrible thing he saw at the party after they all left. So Skinner calls him into his office, and the two lovebirds awkwardly try to get Bart not to tell anyone. Bart really isn’t up for sweeping their relationship under the rug, that is until they offer to switch his permanent record with Milhouse’s, which sweetens the deal enough to get him to go with it. And with that taken care of, the two actually start a relationship, having a sad little date in Edna’s apartment before making out all night while her Charlie Brown candle melts.
And now that they’re both happy and having a good time, both Skinner and Edna are acting like better, more well adjusted people. So everybody’s happy! Except Bart, who becomes their weird go-between. Skinner and Edna both make Bart carry little love-letter between each other, flirting all day long while Bart apparently misses a lot of class. They even drag Bart out to a late-night movie when Superintendent Chalmers shows up and almost figures out they’re on a date. Because having one kid on a field trip to a movie in the middle of the night is less sketchy than them dating. Although it does lead to the wonderful gag when Chalmers and Bart have to sit next to each other during the movie:
Chalmers: “Do you actually think they filmed this in Atlanta?”
Bart: “I don’t know, I don’t think it’s important.”
Chalmers: “yeah, yeah you’re right.”
So great. And the abuse just keeps going when Skinner makes Bart hang out with Agnes all afternoon looking at pictures of cakes she’s clipped from magazines. But the final straw is when Skinner makes Bart tell Edna that he “loves her,” as a weird proxy for Skinner. This causes all the kids to start mocking Bart, and when Skinner and Edna sneak out to make out for a bit, Bart brings the whole class with him to catch them in the act, exposing their affair.
And things start to really fall apart when all the kids who sneaked a peak at their making out go home to tell their parents all their outlandish interpretations of what they saw. And because kids are dumb, the rumor starts spreading around town that Skinner and Edna weren’t making out in the closet, they were having sex. And when the news reaches Superintendent Chalmers, he races down to the school to give Skinner and ultimatum. The two have to either split up, or be fired. And when the pair decides they’d rather be together, they agree to be fired. But as Skinner is getting ready to leave the building, Bart starts trash-talking him, and gets him to make a bold decision. They’re not going to quit! They’re going to barricade themselves in the school and hold it hostage until Chalmers changes his mind!
Unfortunately when they barricade themselves the only other person in the school is Willie, and he doesn’t care. So Bart uses his skills at prankery, and calls Kent Brockman, telling him about an octopus attack at the school. A media circus then embroils the school, and when they find out that there isn’t an octopus, and just some unfair treatment, they still decide to cover it. A crowd appears and they start talking with Skinner and Krabappel, trying to figure out what they want. Skinner, Krabappel, and Bart end up spending the whole night in the school while the police try to get them out with reverse psychology, blaring music, and spotlights, which just results in Edna and Seymour having a nice dance party. But in the end they decide to come out and give their demands to Chalmers. They announce that they love each other, and shouldn’t be punished for that. But then this amazing scene happens:
Maude: “Excuse me, Edna. I don’t think we’re talking about love here. We’re talking about S-E-X in front of the C-H-I-L-D-R-E-N!”
Krusty: “Sex cauldron?! I thought they closed that place down!”
Skinner and Edna then realize that the whole town thought they were having sex in school, and they change their mind when Skinner awkwardly admits that he’s a 44 year old virgin. And that shocking display of honesty is enough for the crowd to buy that, and they no longer have any problem with the relationship. Chalmers even gives his blessing as he leaves. But at the end of the episode they tell Bart that they’re going to split up, but then make it clear they aren’t when he leaves, because I guess they like the secrecy.
This is a pretty fun episode. We’ve learned before, numerous times, how Skinner and Edna are immensely lonely people, and it was honestly just great to see them be happy for once. Their relationship really worked for me, although I think they end up splitting up around the time I stopped watching the series, so I guess I have a bummer waiting for me in a few months. The efforts the two go to keep their relationship secret are pretty ridiculous, and honestly that’s the only issue I have with the episode, because man they take advantage of Bart, to the point where it’s not surprising that he blows up and exposes them. But they fight for their love against the weird prudes in the town, and end up together in the end! Which is a pretty good love story, especially for this show where Homer and Marge are really the only functioning relationship in town.
Take Away: Let people be in love, you don’t need to judge it or ruin it.
“Grade School Confidential” was written by Rachel Pulido and directed by Susie Dietter, 1997.