This was kind of a weird week for Lifetime of Simpsons. Basically every episode has played with a topic that’s been done better in previous episodes. And today is no different. Because today we’re treated to Bart having a crush and his first girlfriend. Something we’ve dealt with before. Hell, Bart’s almost gotten married on two separate occasions in the last couple seasons. So just dating isn’t exactly going to be too surprising. But, let’s see if it worked out for them.
Things start off with Bart and Milhouse hanging around the Springfield Elementary School, praising themselves for their latest prank. And it’s a doozey. Because they’ve apparently gotten to the school before everyone else, and have painstakingly traveled through the school, unscrewing every single screw in the building. I have no idea how long this must have taken, but Bar and Milhouse are certainly masters at committing to their bits.
So the boys stand by and watch as the students and teachers march into the school, unaware that the whole damn school is about to fall apart. Which it promptly does. Lockers, desks, doors, and basically everything else in the school, just falls to pieces, and everyone begins panicking. And, in typical Simpsons fashion the boys are caught pretty quickly. Well, not all the boys. Just Milhouse, who seems more than happy to take the blame for this prank, and let Bart get off easy.
Skinner and Chalmers do everything they can to push Milhouse into telling them who his accomplice is, despite the fact that it’s always Bart. But, shockingly, Milhouse remains resolute and doesn’t rat out Bart, which earns him a suspension. Bart starts to feel guilty that Milhouse took the heat for him, and heads over to Milhouse’s house after school, thanking him for that solid favor. He also promises to visit Milhouse every day, hoping that will make his suspension easier.
And as soon as that trip’s over we see Bart get picked up by Homer, and taken to the Retirement Castle. Apparently Bart is just going to have to sit with Grandpa while Homer sleeps in the car. Bart just kind of awkwardly stands around with Grandpa in the day-room, when something interesting happens. Some little girl named Jenny who routinely visits the elderly arrives, and Bart instantly falls for her. Despite the fact that she’s a fifth-grader, and voluntarily comes to the Retirement Castle to spend time with old people, which Bart can’t imagine isn’t punishment.
Meanwhile, we’re introduced to our bonkers little B-Plot by establishing that Lisa has a new school project for social studies. She’s supposed to write an essay about what Springfield will be like in fifty years. So she of course starts searching on the internet for what the world will likely be like in half a century, and things don’t look good. She finds article after article about climate change, animal extinctions, war, petulance, and basically all sorts of Apocalyptic harbingers. Which really starts to bum Lisa out.
But before we see how that shakes out we follow Bart to school, who can’t get Jenny out of his head. He finds her on the playground, and decides to go talk to her, despite the fact that they’re so incredibly different. Plus, he gets some terrible advice from Nelson, who tells him that he needs to be mean to Jenny to show her that he’s into her. But Bart ignores that advice, and actually just chats with Jenny, trying to be decent. And it works out for him, because the two make plans for a date.
But hey, how’s Lisa doing? Well, she arrives to school, ready to give her presentation, and she does not look good. She quietly waits while the other kids give their innocuous reports, before storming up to the front of the class, looking bedraggled, and starts ranting and raving to the kids about how hope is futile, and the world is doomed. Which of course means Lisa’s going to be reported to Skinner, and he’s going to recommend to Homer and Marge that Lisa see a childhood psychologist. Which is probably a good call.
We then cut to Bart and Jenny, ready to go on their little date that weekend. They head to a park, and begin riding around in a canoe on a lake, chatting and getting to know each other. And there’s plenty of red flags on Jenny, who seems to be a devout Christian and who is always talking about helping people. Which doesn’t really seem like Bart’s speed. But he’s desperate to impress Jenny, and pretends that he’s a good kid. He even goes and gets beat up by the bullies in exchange for them to stop picking on some ducklings, hoping that this will earn him more brownie points.
At the same time though Lisa is going to her first psychologist appointment. And it doesn’t seem that involved, because the psychologist basically just immediately writes her a script for a drug called Ignoreitall, which will help her repress the evils of the world. But they decide to give it a shot, and Lisa ends up taking some drugs. And they work. Mostly. When Lisa’s on the drug she’s happy, everything bad in the world is covered in smiley faces, and she’s generally able to drift through life without noticing anything bad.
And it isn’t just Lisa who starts acting differently, because now that Bart is trying to impress Jenny he begins acting like how he thinks a good kid should. And Marge is loving it. Especially when Bart says that Jenny will be coming over to dinner, which means Bart’s going to keep being a good kid. The rest of the family? Not so much. She’s confused at Homer’s lack of attention and how utterly drugged up Lisa is. Marge seems nice though, and they have a mostly fine evening.
Well, until the doorbell rings in the middle of the meal. Bart gets up to see who could possibly at the door, and finds it to be someone surprising. Milhouse. Apparently Milhouse is no longer on suspension, but he’s plenty pissed. Because it turns out once Bart met Jenny he broke his promise and never came to visit Milhouse. And when Milhouse finds out that the reason Bart bailed on him is over a girl, he decides to get some revenge. Especially when he learns that Jenny thinks that Bart is a good kid.
We then cut over to a bake sale at the church, which Jenny has convinced Bart to participate in. Bart’s becoming terrified that Jenny will learn the truth about him, which gets worse when Milhouse shows up and starts slyly threatening Bart. And it all really starts to bother Bart, who becomes terrified that Jenny will immediately dump him when she realizes that he’s not some pious loser like the guy she apparently wants.
Oh, and it’s time to finish the Lisa plot. Because she’s become hardcore addicted to the Ignoreitall, and is basically just drifting through life, being doped to the gills and ignoring everything bad. Which of course leads to Maggie trying to convince Lisa to stick her tongue in a movie fan. For some reason. Marge notices this at the last minute though, and stops it from happening, while also deciding to get Lisa off the drug so she can go back to normal.
Anyway, Bart starts becoming paranoid, terrified that Milhouse will appear at some moment and spoil his relationship, so he starts trying to hide with Jenny at places that Milhouse can’t go. Like the pier, where he gets nosebleeds. But Milhouse deals with the bleed, and shows up at the pier, ready to tell Jenny the truth. And when he does, she immediately dumps Bart. Just like he was worried about!
So Bart goes home, heartbroken and miserable, and ready to get advice from Lisa. She tells Bart that he can’t wallow in despair, and that he should just go say how he feels. Bart agrees, and surprisingly heads over to Milhouse’s house to apologize for being a shitty friend. They patch things up, and hatch their latest prank on the school, hiring a zamboni to make the floors too slippery to walk on. And things are back to the natural order.
This episode is just kind of fine. There’s nothing that special about it though. We’ve seen several episodes about how hard it is to maintain friendships when a lady is introduced. Sometimes it’s been Milhouse with the girlfriend, and sometimes it’s been Bart, but the outcome is always the same. Their friendship gets strained, the girl dumps them, and they get back together to be friends. And this one really did nothing new with that formula. We’ve seen this episode, but with better jokes and more interesting premises. The Lisa stuff was kind of funny, and looked at how weird it is that we over-medicate kids, but it’s that main plot that drags the episode down. There’s not really anything wrong with it, it’s just that we’ve seen it before.
Take Away: Don’t change yourself for a romantic partner.
“The Good, the Sad and the Drugly” was written by Marc Wilmore and directed by Rob Oliver, 2009.