So yesterday we got to see Bart being a bit of a monster, and trying to destroy both Springfield and his parent’s marriage for his own gain. But today we’re going to abruptly change gears, and instead focus on the more tender side of Bart Simpson, and his trials and tribulations while navigating the complicated world of hormones. Good luck, Bart!
The episode starts off with Homer proudly explaining to the kids that he has a new GPS system, and that it’s going to get them to school as efficiently as possible. However, the fact that the system uses metric units completely baffles Homer and the kids, which ends up causing them to get horribly lost in a construction field. And this of course ends with the car being destroyed, and Homer resorting to having the tow-truck driver drop the kids off at school.
So Bart’s a little late, and when he comes into class he finds something shocking. Mrs. Krabappel isn’t there and the students are basically rioting and destroying the room. But Principal Skinner comes and stops the anarchy, while explaining to the kids that Mrs. Krabappel had to head to Oregon to save her sister from a cult, and she won’t be back for a while. And because they can’t just get a long-term substitute for some reason, he’s decided to merge Krabappel’s class with the other fourth grade class in the building.
The kids are obviously unsure about this, but march with Skinner into their new classroom, where they’re going to have to sit with random other kids at their desks. We see a couple gags like Sherri and Terri having to sit with other twins, and Nelson finding some blind kid that becomes his side-kick for the whole episode. But this is a Bart episode, so it’s really his seat-mate that matters. And Bart has gotten stuck with a sort of gothy little girl named Nikki.
But before we get into Nikki, we should probably go check in on Lisa and get the B-Plot going. It all starts when Lisa gets a test back, and is horrified to find that she’s gotten an F on it. This causes Lisa to have a slight break from reality, and she ends up spending the whole recess time sadly sitting by herself, moping for her GPA. However, things start to brighten up when a bunch of kids approach Lisa, wanting to hang out with her now that she’s not perfect, and seems approachable. Lisa’s social life is saved! Until Ms Hoover shows up and tells her that there was a mix up, and Lisa actually aced the test, causing everyone to abandon her again. Poor Lisa.
But we’ll get back with Lisa later, for now let’s see how things are going with Bart and Nikki. Not well! She can’t stand the idea of having Bart at her desk, and hates him from the get go. Bart also can’t stand her, because she’s a little aloof, and keeps reading some terrible Twilight book. However, when Bart starts to make fun of her for the book, and starts to show her gory drawings he made of vampires, she suddenly gets interested in him, and the two start to hit it off. They spend the rest of the day paling around, realizing they have a lot in common.
So much in common that after school Bart returns home with some questions for Homer. Yep, Bart’s looking for some lady advice. He thinks that he may like Nikki, and asks Homer what he should do about it. But Homer’s too busy dealing with fixing Marge’s car, and he tells Bart to go ask Grandpa instead. So, against better judgment, Bart goes and asks Grandpa for dating advice. And Grandpa’s big suggestion is to “steal a kiss” from Nikki to see if she likes him too.
The next day Bart heads back to school, and during recess he finds that Nikki loves skateboarding too. The two end up boarding all around the campus, doing a variety of crazy stunts while keeping up with each other. They end up sitting atop the slide, and Nikki asks Bart what he wants to do. So, taking Grandpa’s advice, Bart just plants a kiss on Nikki. And the shit hits the fan. Nikki is horrified that Bart kissed her without getting permission, and that her first kiss is with Bart Simpson, and she runs away screaming.
And things aren’t done escalating, because we then see that Homer and Marge have been brought in to talk to Skinner about the incident. They’re obviously worried that Bart did it, but think that it’s getting blown out of proportion. Which is when Nikki’s parents show up and threaten to sue the school unless the enforce a strict no-touching policy in Springfield Elementary. Skinner agrees, and Bart has to leave the school, confused about what’s going on. He thinks about going and apologizing to Nikki, but Homer doesn’t want Bart anywhere near her, and instead takes Bart to go see some weird Itchy and Scratchy movie that’s basically just Koyaanisqatsi.
But that’s enough Bart for a bit; let’s check back in on Lisa. Things aren’t great! She’s still incredibly depressed over seeing some fleeting friendship before having it dashed away by her achievements. We also learn that Lisa runs some sort of organic gardening blog, and she writes a long post about how no one appreciates her, and that she should just give up. But her spirits are brightened when she gets a random comment from someone telling her not to give up, and to stay strong.
We’ll find out who this mysterious commenter is later though, because it’s time to see the school enact their new anti-touching policies! And the best way to do that is to host an assembly for the kids where they make Willie dress in drag and have Skinner dress as Bart and awkwardly kiss him. This makes the kids laugh, which makes Chalmers for Skinner and Willie to kiss longer and longer. So that’s a good time. But what’s not a good time is the fact that Bart is a total pariah now, since his mistake has lead to this weird new culture.
And things are complicated even further when something ridiculous happens. Nikki is waiting for Bart, inside his locker, and she kisses him. Turns out Nikki now has a crush on Bart, and wants to break the rules. So the two run up to the roof of the school to have some time together where no one will see them. And that’s also helped by the fact that something ridiculous is happening in the playground that’s keeping everyone’s attention held.
A random helicopter has landed on the playground, and some military officials hop out and begins securing the area. This obviously draws everyone’s attention, especially when they learn whose inside. Michelle Obama! Turns out that she’s that commenter on Lisa’s blog, and she’s come to Springfield Elementary to tell the kids to appreciate overachievers, because they’re the people who will be running the world in the future, and that everyone should be proud of being smart and passionate about things. So that’s cool!
Meanwhile, Bart is up on the roof with Nikki, and has learned something huge. He’s bad at being in a relationship, and starts second-guessing himself and freaking out about everything. This really bugs Nikki, and the two starts to fight, which distracts Bart, who slips and falls off the roof. Luckily the crowd was still gathered for Michelle Obama’s speech, so they’re there to run to Bart’s aid as he lays there unconscious.
Unfortunately there’s an issue. The new anti-touching rules make it so that no one, not even the faculty, can touch Bart and see if he’s okay. They call an ambulance, but Bart seems like he’s in rough shape. So Nikki comes to the rescue, riding her skateboard. She then performs CPR on Bart, which launches a truly hilarious montage of the greatest kisses in cinema history, and it’s amazing. Bart then wakes up, and tries to thank Nikki. She however has now lost interest in Bart, and officially breaks up with him, completely baffling Bart. Women, right?
This episode is a lot of fun. We’ve seen Bart try to dip his toes in romance, but this is a really interesting way to tackle that topic that we haven’t seen before. This is one of the most accurate portrayals of young attraction that I’ve seen. Bart and Nikki have no idea what’s going on with their feelings, and have no idea what to do about them. They’re both utterly baffled, and just keep messing everything up. It also doesn’t help that Grandpa gave Bart some truly terrible advice, telling Bart to get physical with a girl without her consent. But that’s also an important thing for him to learn. Plus that B-Plot gave some good messages, telling kids that it’s okay to be weird and passionate about education, because the world will always need smart people. Until the GOP burns it to the ground. But let’s focus on nice things!
Take Away: Always get consent, don’t be a creep, and don’t be afraid to be an over-achiever.
“Stealing First Base” was written by John Frink and directed by Steven Dean Moore, 2010.