Lifetime of Simpsons

S12 E04 – Lisa the Tree Hugger

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So yesterday didn’t really wow me, but hey, that’s probably going to happen. Sometimes you just have to move past that though, and get onto the next episode, which just so happens to be a pretty enjoyable little Lisa story. Plus, it’s one where she isn’t furious as a parent, so that’s a rarity.

Our story today starts off with Krusty just straight up counting down the seconds until his show ends, because he’s a consummate professional, before cutting to a commercial. The ad is hocking some new video game system that’s barely better than the current one Bart has, but it’s new, so he’s got to have it. And since he’s ten, that obviously means he’s going to have to ask his folks for it, and it doesn’t go well. Marge just responds with some insufferable song about thriftiness, and Homer gets caught in some logic loop where he argues with Bart about getting a job.

But the one thing he gets from Homer’s weird rant is that he should go get a job, so he hits the town to do just that. And luckily, he finds a job immediately, for a Thai restaurant called You Thai Now, where he’s asked to hang little menus on people’s doorknobs. However Bart quickly realizes that this is a shitty job, and entails a lot of anger from people who don’t want the menus. But the owner doesn’t just let Bart, and instead trains him to be a goddamn ninja so that he can sneak around and deliver stupid menus like he’s in the Matrix.

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And Bart’s doing great. So great that he’s offered to take the family to Krusty Burger on his dime. So the family head out, while Lisa starts to complain about all the horrible paper-waste that these menus are causing. Which really comes to a head when they get to the Krusty Burger and find that there are protestors dressed like cows standing atop the building, yelling about Krusty Burger’s horrible cattle history. And of course, this causes the police to show up and pelt the peaceful protestors with beanbags. Good thing they were a bunch of whiny white folks.

And after the protestors are taken care of, Lisa runs into the leader of the group, Jesse Grass, who she instantly gets a crush on. To the point that she then follows him to the police station, and has a conversation with him in the lockup. The two start to chat, and Lisa makes it clear that she would do anything to join his organization, and he lets her join their next meeting.

So Homer drops Lisa off at some sketchy warehouse where the hippies are meeting to discuss their new plans, and Lisa joins the gang. And right off the bat, they get to the idea that Mayor Quimby is secretly selling Springfield’s old redwood trees to be used for outlandish things. And he’s moved onto the oldest and tallest tree in Springfield, which ends up getting bought by the Rich Texan, who wants to make a drive-thru humidor. So the hippies really need someone to volunteer to climb up the tree and live in it, so no one can cut it down. Hmmm, I wonder who that could be?

Lisa then cryptically says goodbye to the family, and heads out to the forest to climb that tree. And after a whole lot of work, she gets to a branch big enough to live on, and sets up a little base-camp, complete with a rope that keeps her from falling to her little death. And right about then, everyone shows up. The loggers, Jesse, and the Simpsons all seem to arrive at the same time, and all shout up to Lisa. But she’s going to stick to her guns, and stay up there, screwing over the loggers, and earning some mild respect from Jesse.

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However, things quickly start to fall apart. Especially on a rainy night when she starts to get homesick, and starts spying on the Simpson home, only to see them having some quality family time. And this is enough to spur her on to abandoning her cause, just for one night, and she leaves her post to return to the home. But when she gets there, the family have all fallen asleep in the family room, and she decides to just rest for a bit until she goes back to the tree.

And of course, when she wakes up she realizes she’s slept there all night, and races back to the tree in a panic. Which was for a good reason, because she gets there and finds that the tree has been toppled. So she returns home, admits to Marge what happened, and sulks around the living room watching TV. And as she’s watching they see a news report about the fallen tree, and she learns that it wasn’t loggers that cut it down, it was lightning. Lightning summoned by the little bucket she had in her base camp. So it’s her fault. Oh, and everyone just assumes that she was killed in the accident, and she’s become a martyr.

People are so taken with the story that the Rich Texan even puts aside his greed, and agrees to work with Jesse to turn that land into a nature preserve. So Lisa did some actual good. And of course, she just wants to let it roll. And things are even going good for the rest of the family. Bart gets straight A’s, and Homer uses her “death” to get Moe to tear up his bar tab and pour cocktail onions down his pants.

So Lisa’s death is actually turning out to be a good thing. That is until the Texan decides to show his true colors, and reveal that he’s reneging on the nature preserve thing, and is now going to turn the land into an amusement park, complete with a giant Lisa head on that tree that she took down. And this is a bridge too far, so Lisa shows up and lets the town know that she’s alive. So the jig is up, and Jesse decides to ruin the Texan’s plan by cutting the wires holding the log up, and it starts rolling down to the town, where it promptly destroys the Texan’s office, Kentucky Fried Panda, and a hemp store. So no one wins! Oh, and the log just keeps rolling all through the world.

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More often than not, Lisa episodes are kind of the gold-standard when it comes to quality on the Simpsons. They’re usually some of the best episodes there are, and tend to really speak to lonely little nerds like me. And while this one is certainly not a terrible episode, it’s a lesser Lisa Episode. Not that that’s a bad thing. I had a lot of fun with this one, even though it didn’t tackle the usual emotional hardships that Lisa Episodes then to broach. It was just a fun little episode about conformity. Which is still interesting. I love that Lisa thinks that she’s this outlier, a free-thinking independent person, and yet as soon as she meets like minded people she does everything she can to be more like them. Lisa’s not really an outlier in general, she’s just an outlier in Springfield. It’s something I’ve talked about before, but I feel like Lisa would do great in college, where she can get out of the general stupidity of Springfield, and realize that she’s not such a weirdo, so was just stuck in a town where there’s no one else like her. And here’s an episode that shows that. She finds people who think the way she does, and she gets along with them, even though she bends over backwards trying to please them and be more like them. But hey, that’s human nature, and those hippies are much better people than most of Springfield.

Take Away: Don’t do ridiculous things just to please people. Especially if it involves living in a tree. Don’t like in trees.

 

“Lisa the Tree Hugger” was written by Matt Selman and directed by Steven Dean Moore, 2000.

 

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