We seem to be in the era of the show that I dipped out of. The last couple episodes have been familiar to me, but in a way that I think I maybe saw them when they first aired, and then never again. And today may be an episode that I never actually saw. But it’s also possible that it’s just so damned dull that I forgot it, because even though I only watched the episode a couple days ago I had virtually no memory of it when writing this article and resorted to my notes like crazy. So let’s talk about this thrilling episode!
Things start off with basically every family in town eagerly waiting to get into Mayor Quimby’s estate for an Easter Egg Hunt. And it seems pretty intense, having the entire estate covered with eggs and even having some sort of rabbit referee. Whom Homer runs afoul of almost immediately when he starts helping Maggie steal eggs from other kids who were faster than her. But, I think we all could have assumed Homer was going to get into a fistfight with someone at an event like this.
Meanwhile, a group of the mothers are getting a private tour of the mayor’s mansion from Quimby’s long-suffering wife. Marge actually seems to be getting along with the other mothers, and having a good time, despite how sketchy the mayoral mansion is thanks to all of Quimby’s sexual escapades. But things get awkward when the women are going to go get tea together and Homer bursts into a window, still fighting that damned referee, and embarrassing everyone to the point that Mrs. Quimby cancels the tea.
And Marge is super pissed. She’s mad that Homer embarrassed her, but mostly mad that she was making friends with women and he ruined it. She doesn’t really have many friends, and Homer always scares potential friends off. So, Homer decides that the logical thing for him to do is start scouring the town to find Marge a suitable friend. And after a lot of creeping on random women in the town, his best applicant appears to be the Crazy Cat Lady, who just throws cats at Marge.
Oh, and let’s get the B-Plot going while we’re at it. Apparently even though it was just established as Easter, Lisa is getting ready to plan her summer vacation, and she finds a flier at the school for a summer abroad in Rome. So she takes the flier and tries to get Skinner to pick her for the program. Because it’s something the school pays for? I don’t know, the important thing is that Lisa needs to be fluent in Italian to be considered, so she just lies and says she is in the hopes that she can fake it by the time that she needs to prove it to Skinner in a couple weeks.
While Lisa begins trying to teach herself Italian, things are pretty rough for Marge too. She wasn’t thrilled with the Cat Lady as a potential friend, and begins wandering the town in a funk. Which is quickly pushed aside when she has a chance encounter with a woman named Tammy, who makes quick friends with Marge. Tammy is a loud lady whose a member of a club called the Cherry Red Tomatoes, which seems to be a club for sad older ladies, all of whom wear red hats. Which I believe it based on a real thing.
Tammy invites Marge to join her and the rest of the Tomatoes to a Mexican restaurant to have margaritas and complain about their husbands, and she ends up having a great time. And that night when she gets home she’s been completely lifted from her funk, and starts to hang out with the Tomatoes more and more, doing all their crazy activities. Like sky-diving! And after a montage of bonding, we see them formally invite Marge to join the group, and give her a red hat.
Before we talk about the Tomatoes and what they’re up to though, we should check-in on the B-Plot. Because it turns out learning a foreign language by yourself is tough, so Lisa signs up to get a tutor. And shockingly, the tutor ends up being Milhouse. Apparently Milhouse’s family comes from Italy, and he spent a lot of time with his abusive grandmother in Italy who hammered the language into him. So, despite her worries about Milhouse being her teacher, she agrees to being taught.
And he’s actually a pretty great tutor. He begins teaching her all about Italian, and even takes her on a trip to Springfield’s Little Italy, where he’s apparently a badass. They race around town, riding Vespa’s, and having a good time, until Lisa actually starts to develop a bit of a crush on Milhouse. But that’s quickly quashed when he starts acting like a tool, and breaks her heart, causing her to scream at him in Italian, proving that he was actually a decent teacher.
Anyway, back to Marge. Things aren’t great. Because as soon as she’d inducted into the Tomatoes, she learns about their “fundraising” plan for the year. They’re going to steal a couple priceless Faberge Eggs from Mr. Burns, after he reneged on a donation to a Children’s Hospital. They’ve even gone so far as to have plans drawn up, and the heist is ready to go down in just a couple days. And Marge is expected to participate.
So the night of the heist arrives, despite Marge’s worries about them, and she heads out to assist in the theft. And when she heads out, Homer notices that she was acting suspicious and starts snooping in her Tomatoes folder. Which is when he stumbles upon the heist plans, and freaks the hell out, running off to stop her before she does something stupid. But Marge is apparently much quicker than Homer, because she’s already at Burns’ and has already snuck through a vent and opened the gate so that the theft can commence.
The Tomatoes then easily get into Mr. Burns’ vault, and steal all the eggs. But as they’re leaving they run into Homer, who raced over to stop them. And while racing over he picked up the police, who followed him right to the crime. So the Tomatoes freak out and try to flee, only to be caught by Mr. Burns. Burns threatens them at first, but decides that he’ll let them go if they just give him the Eggs back, mainly because they’re just “simple women,” and Mr. Burns is a misogynist. So they give the Eggs back, and get to leave. And as soon as they’re off his property, Marge reveals that she had one of the Eggs hidden in her hair, so they still got one! Which leads to Tammy taking the Egg and kicking Marge out of the Tomatoes for some reason. So…no friends for Marge I guess. Everything goes back to normal.
I don’t know what it is about this episode, but it just does absolutely nothing for me. The idea at the core of the episode is actually pretty great. Marge really doesn’t have many friends, and I think the idea of her getting lonely and trying to find some friends is a really realistic and relatable idea. And I think that something like the Tomatoes exists; at the very least there really are clubs for older women to make friends outside of their families. And yet, the idea to make them start stealing stuff is just weird, and comes so late into the episode that it felt inconsequential. Especially because the episode ends with the group just kicking Marge out for no discernible reason, even though she actually was the only competent member of their heist. It just feels really weird to me, and was utterly forgettable.
Take Away: Everyone needs friends, but maybe don’t hang out with people who plot heists?
“The Last of the Red Hat Mamas” was written by Joel H Cohen and directed by Matthew Nastuk, 2005.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons