So you know how the most hackneyed Marge episodes all revolve around the family treating her more like shit than normal until she snaps and they briefly agree to be better people by the end of the episode? Well, what if we did that, but with Lisa instead? And lepers?
The episode starts off with Homer and the kids watching some Itchy and Scratchy together. This time it’s Tears of a Clone, and it’s all about Itchy cloning Scratchy so he can continue to murder him for all eternity. Science! But while they’re being occupied by animated genocide, Marge is clearly up to something. She has a box full of crap, and is trying to sneak out of the house without the rest of the family noticing. But she isn’t as sneaky as he thought she was, and they notice her, and realize that she’s trying to give all their useless garbage to Good Will.
So Homer and the kids freak out, and they go chasing after her. She did manage to get the box of garbage onto the Goodwill truck, but Homer springs into action and is able to jump aboard the truck. He grabs the stuff, and gets back to the house so they can yell at Marge for getting rid of their garbage. But in true Simpsons fashion this random beginning gets a real plot going when Marge points out some skis in the box as an example of them never using this stuff, and Homer decides they need to go skiing.
The Simpsons then head up to a mountain for a lovely spiteful outing. And almost immediately they get separated. Marge is too scared to actually ski so she goes down to a ski lodge, Homer falls off the ski-lift and is left to his own devices, Bart learns snowboarding lingo from Otto, and Lisa gets mauled by horrible deer. We also gets the famous scene when Homer runs into Ned, who is in some sort of skin-tight skiing outfit, causing him to say the immortal quote, “Stupid sexy Flanders.”
But a real plot starts to develop when Marge is down in the ski lodge. Because even though she’s had a nice quiet day in the lodge, tragedy strikes when the family finally come to be with her, and an enormous cuckoo clock falls off the wall and breaks her leg. So she’s rushed to Springfield Hospital and Dr. Hibbert lets them know that she has a compound fracture, and will need to be kept to bed rest in the hospital until it’s healed. So the Simpsons are without their competent member, and Lisa volunteers to step up and be the new head of the family.
And this new status quo goes okay for a while, because Lisa is actually kind of a natural. Even though it quickly becomes apparent that Homer and Bart are utterly incompetent, and can’t even dress themselves without Marge’s help. But things start to change for Lisa when she realizes how crappy Homer and Bart treat Marge, since they start to take advantage of Lisa. Meanwhile, Marge is going insane in the hospital, not used to not being able to clean. That is until she learns about morphine and acupressure, at which point she stops caring about home.
But while Marge is doing pretty good in the hospital, Lisa is starting to go insane. Bart and Homer refuse to do chores, Homer buys only candy for groceries, and they just sit up all night watching I Love Lucy as loud as it possibly could be. So Lisa’s ready to snap. And just on time she’s visited by the ghost of Lucille Ball, who is there to give Lisa some advice on how to prank Homer and Bart back into decency. Which obviously means that Lisa heads down while they’re sleeping in their own filth to pain on some fake oatmeal leprosy sores on them.
The next morning Homer and Bart wake up, terrified at these mysterious new sores all over their bodies, and come running to Lisa for help. Lisa then guides them farther down the prank path, and gets them to use some sort of WebMD site that tells them they have leprosy. Lisa then tries to explain that the only way to cure their leprosy is to clean up the house, but Homer and Bart have no patience for that, and decide to go ask Ned to help them, since he’s holier than Jesus.
Ned obviously freaks out about the sudden appearance of lepers on his doorstep, but since he’s a true Christian he decides to do the honorable thing and pay for Bart and Homer to fly to Molokai, Hawaii to join a leper colony there and get treated. But while all of this is going on, Marge has finally gotten home, and is stunned at how great the house looks. But then Lisa has to tell her about accidently tricking Homer and Bart, and they decide to go find them. Ned points them to Molokai, so the girls go follow Homer and Bart to Hawaii where they’re enjoying their treatment. Turns out Homer and Bart have figured out that they don’t have leprosy, and are just faking it to enjoy a beautiful Hawaiian vacation, the horrible electric needle pain notwithstanding.
This is a weird episode. I didn’t even really have much to say about it. It’s one of those episodes that seem a little half-baked, like it could have used another pass or something. The skiing stuff in the beginning was fun, and I liked the idea of Lisa having to be the maternal figure of the house for a while, but the episode just gives me the same sour feeling when I watch some of these Marge episodes. Homer and Bart are so shitty to Lisa in this episode, it’s just a bummer. And then the leprosy thing happens, which was a solid gag, but it just got crazier and crazier until we end with the family going to Hawaii to fake leprosy to get a great vacation/torture session. I don’t know, this episode just fell flat for me.
Take Away: Don’t be an asshole, and carry your own weight when it comes to chores. Oh, and leprosy is apparently super easy to fake, in case you need to use that information.
“Little Big Man” was written by Carolyn Omine and directed by Mark Kirkland, 2000.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons