Lifetime of Simpsons

S20 E09 – Lisa the Drama Queen

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Welcome to another week of Lifetime of Simpsons. We’ve got a week of really, really weird episodes ahead of us folks. Some of them are fun, some are bad, but they’re all incredibly strange. So buckle up! Things are going to get wacky!

Today’s episode starts off with Homer dropping Bart and Lisa off at a rec center. Neither seem to want to be there, but Homer doesn’t care, he’s just doing what he was told. So the kids are left alone, and have to find something to occupy themselves with. This leads to Bart taking a Shaolin Kung Fu class, obviously taught by Comic Book Guy, which ends with all of the children uniting to just beat up Comic Book Guy and bully him.

But today’s episode is about Lisa, and her decision actually has some ramifications. She’s chosen some sort of painting class where the instructor just heckles the children’s attempts at painting a bowl of fruit. She specifically starts to pick on one girl, Juliet who is just ignoring instructions and painting some fantasy scene with dragons and princesses. The instructor just yells at Juliet, until Lisa comes to her rescue, and starts to defend Juliet. But the instructor doesn’t back down, so Lisa and Juliet just leave and go do things on their own.

They actually have a lovely time together, and Lisa learns that Juliet’s parents are academics at Springfield University. Her father is apparently an expert on John Grisham, which I assumed was a joke, but actually is true, and becomes less and less funny as they explore it. But they had a great time, and Lisa even goes to meet up with Juliet the next day after school. Lisa is a little intimidated by Juliet’s fancy school, but they get through that and go to some weird little art museum, hanging out all afternoon.

The episode then takes a weird little turn, having Lisa act like her friendship with Juliet is like a romantic relationship that Lisa hasn’t had in a while. It’s kind of like a first date after having not dated in years, and it’s kind of a funny way to handle this. But they abandon that pretty quickly to get to the really weird premise of the episode, so whatever. We do get fun gags of them wandering around Springfield’s terrible art museum.

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After the museum Lisa brings Juliet home to meet the parents, and she’s invited to stay over for dinner. Which really makes Marge excited, pleased to see Lisa making friends. And after a lovely meal together Juliet is even invited to spend the night, letting her and Lisa have a sleep-over. And while they’re sitting around in Lisa’s room, they decide to start coming up with a story. They end up creating a whole fantasy world called Equalia, and spend the night devising their world.

Lisa and Juliet begin spending all of their time together, mostly working on their Equalia novel, and quickly become best friends. Which obviously leads to the Simpsons having to get together with Juliet’s parents for a dinner. And it doesn’t turn out well. But not in the way you’d expect. Because, yes, Juliet’s parents are refined and sophisticated, and the Simpsons kind of rub them the wrong way, but the cause of tension actually kind of comes out of left field.

Because while Juliet’s father begins reciting passages from a John Grisham novel while playing music from a Grisham soundtrack, Juliet has a bit of an outburst. She starts yelling at her parents, because she wants to talk about Equalia and Josh Groban. It gets so weird that she runs out of the house and sits on the lawn, staring at the sprinklers. Lisa goes to talk to her, and finds that Juliet is pretending that she’s in Equalia, and that the real world doesn’t exist. Which Lisa kind of plays along with, running around in their imaginations.

And after this moment Equalia transforms from a fun little hobby to a full on obsession. Lisa and Juliet spend literally all of their time writing about Equalia, even to the point that Principal Skinner has to call Homer and Marge to his office to talk about it. Lisa’s attention and grades are slipping, all because of Equalia, and Marge has to do something she really doesn’t want to. She tells Lisa that she can’t hang out with Juliet as much anymore, because they’re becoming too obsessed with one another.

Lisa obviously decides that she needs to start rebelling, but runs into a bit of a problem. Marge knows every trick in the rebellion book, having raised Bart, and she’s able to foil every single one of Lisa’s escape plans. However, the next day Lisa leaves the Elementary School, ready to go to model UN, when she finds Juliet waiting outside for her. Juliet was also told she can’t hang out with Lisa anymore, so she obviously thinks that they should run away from home and go live in the woods and write Equalia forever. Lisa agrees.

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So Lisa and Juliet get on their bikes and ride off into the woods to their new home. An abandoned sea-food restaurant in the middle of the forest that’s castle-themed. Perfect. So the two little girls set up a little home inside of the castle, assuming that nothing bad will ever happen again. Which is promptly when Marge gets a call from Martin at the model UN telling her that Lisa never showed up. Marge immediately thinks that Lisa has run away from home, and her, Bart, and Homer brainstorm where the girls may have gone.

They obviously realize that since they’re so obsessed with their book that they’d probably try and go somewhere vaguely medieval, and realize that they’re in a castle. However, they assume that they’re at the castle in the put-put golf place, and don’t find the girls. But someone does find them, because it turns out that that castle is the place that Jimbo, Dolph, and Kearney come to hang out. And when they find some girls already hiding out in there, they get mad.

The bullies lock Lisa and Juliet into little crab-traps, and then Jimbo and Dolph leave Kearney behind to guard them while they go get food. Kearney is mad that the other two are being mean to him, but he still tries to guard the girls. They try to ignore Kearney, and start talking about Equalia, hoping to keep their minds on something else. And they find something surprising. Kearney loves it. He’s fascinated by the story, and lets them out so they can tell him the story. They even inspire Kearney to be brave, and fight the other two bullies when they get back, letting Lisa and Juliet escape.

However, when they escape Lisa realizes something. She doesn’t like Equalia anymore. She doesn’t like living in some weird fantasy world, and ignoring the real world. Juliet thinks this is ridiculous, and the two end up having a friend break up, going their separate ways. The episode then ends with Lisa getting word from a publisher that they don’t want to publish the Equalia stories, putting an end to this chapter of her life.

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This is a fascinating episode. I’m always a fan of seeing Lisa getting a friend, and I love that she finds a person that she so greatly connects with, and who causes a creative spark to be ignited. I thought that the idea of treating a friendship like a romantic relationship was a fun one, and the episode was making some fun moments. Yeah, I didn’t really like some of the weird stuff like the Grisham scholar, but overall I really liked the first act and a half. Then things take a radical shift. The reveal that Juliet is obsessed with living in their fantasy world and ignoring the real world is really weird and I kind of love it. They keep it kind of vague, not explicitly saying if Juliet is having a horrible time at home, or if she has some sort of mental illness, but the way the episode turns is very interesting. Juliet takes a fun thing, and goes too far with it. And that’s something I haven’t really seen on this show before. This actually turns into a pretty dark episode, and I appreciate the decision to go this far.

Take Away: It’s fine to be creative, but don’t let your creativity keep you from experiencing a real life.

 

“Lisa the Drama Queen” was written by Brian Kelley and directed by Matthew Nastuk, 2009.

 

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