Lifetime of Simpsons

S22 E01 – Elementary School Musical

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We’ve done it everyone! We’ve made it through yet another season and are now into Season 22. And while yesterday’s episode may have been an odd choice for a season closer, today we have something that certainly feels more appropriate for a season opener. I’m not sure if it’s exactly an episode I like, but it at least feels right.

The episode starts off with Lisa and several other geeks eagerly watching TV in the middle of the night. Homer comes strolling in, not able to sleep, when he sees that what they’re watching is the live nominations for the Nobel Prizes. Homer actually gets sort of interested and watches with the geeks, who are excited to see what person is going to get nominated for the Peace Prize. And, what should not be a shock to anyone, the winner is Krusty the Klown.

Everyone is pretty baffled by this decision, but Krusty kind of just rolls with it and gives a speech to the citizens of Springfield before heading off to pick up his Prize. However, while Krusty is giving his speech he finds that only one person laughs at all of his terrible jokes. Homer. So, hoping to have someone to prime the rest of the Nobel audience Krusty invites Homer and Bart to join him to the Prize ceremony. They’re off to Norway!

Which is really pissing off Lisa, who is the only one in the family who actually gives a damn about the Nobels, and is very jealous. But Marge has a trick up her sleeve, so while Homer and Bart are spending the week in Norway, Lisa is getting to do something fun just for her. Marge has bought Lisa a week at an art camp where Lisa will get to play music, be with fellow artists, and generally embrace all of her artistic impulses.

And, obviously, Lisa loves it. Everyone is singing constantly, and Lisa is introduced to the camp by a series of fellow campers who aren’t given names or really lines, but are apparently references to Glee characters. Neat. But what I did enjoy was the fact that the camp’s counselors are played by Brett and Jemaine from the Flight of the Conchords, doing their usual shtick, which I’m a big fan of. So, with the Conchords and the Glee kids Lisa begin a fun week of artistic expression.

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Meanwhile, things aren’t going great for Krusty, Homer, and Bart. They’ve landed after their trans-Atlantic flight, and find something shocking. They aren’t in Oslo, they’ve in Holland. And Krusty didn’t actually win the Nobel Prize, that was all a trick to get Krusty to the Hague where he can be tried for crimes against humanity. So, you know, not exactly the best vacation Homer and Bart have ever been on. Because now they have to prove to the Hague that Krusty has done one thing to benefit humanity.

But that story has becomes a B-Plot, so now it’s time to go see how Lisa’s doing at Art Camp. Pretty well! The Conchords teach Lisa about heckling, and how great and important the life of an artist is. Lisa gets utterly enamored with the life of an artist, living in the big city and expressing yourself for a living, and is convinced that she needs to move to the city as soon as she can.

However, this is all brought to a crashing conclusion when Lisa’s week is suddenly up, and Lisa arrives to take her back to the real world. Lisa begrudgingly returns to her life, and becomes utterly depressed at how mundane her life is. Marge tries to cheer her up, but is utterly unable to do so. And things don’t get much better when she returns to Springfield Elementary and gets mocked by the bullies for liking art and sees how much Mr. Largo’s soul has been crushed by his lack of art.

So, after a few days of being depressed about her life, Lisa decides she needs to do something ridiculous and extreme. She’s going to take her saxophone and sneak out of the house so that she can run off to live in the city of Sprooklyn. Lisa manages to get to the trendy neighborhood all on her own, but when she gets there she finds something a little shocking. The place is a goddamn pit, and the apartment that the Conchords are living in is terrible.

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Lisa comes up to their apartment to talk to them and get their advice about the city, and sees how utterly depressing their lives are. They do get to go perform their art for people, but they also live a depressing life working at fast food and scrounging up what little food they can afford. Lisa’s pretty aghast, and they have to admit that a lot of what they taught her at Art Camp was a lie, and that while having a career in art can be emotionally fulfilling, it’s very hard.

But hey, let’s finish off that B-Plot. Homer and Bart are still desperately trying to find something good that Krusty has done for humanity, and it’s proving very difficult. Krusty has basically given up and is resigning himself to a life of imprisonment. However, things come to a somewhat baffling conclusion when Homer and Bart bring in footage of Krusty refusing to perform at some anti-apartheid charity, which they argue somehow freed Nelson Mandela? I rewound this because I was so confused, and still couldn’t figure out what they were trying to say, but whatever, they accept it and Krusty is free to return to Springfield, ending this story.

Anyway, Lisa is still hanging out with the Conchords, trying to convince herself that a life of art is still something she wants. She follows them to some gross coffee shop where they perform to mostly no one, and basically all of her ambitions are killed. However, Marge somehow finds Lisa in the coffee shop, and she gladly returns back to her life, ready to reassess her interests. But then, as she’s leaving Sprooklyn she finds that the Conchords have painted a mural to her, giving her the confidence that she’ll be able to succeed some day.

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There’s a lot I like about this episode, but I think overall it’s a little scatterbrained. It’s one of those episodes where it feels like the B-Plot was an idea for a full episode that they just couldn’t quite figure out. I feel like the whole family travelling to Holland to help Krusty defend himself should lend itself to a lackluster vacation episode, but they just had to shove it into a weird B Plot that kept derailing the Lisa plot. Which is actually pretty fun. I love Lisa’s obsession with art, and seeing her find a whole new world out there, only to have it lose some of its glamour was interesting. Lisa is always an idealistic character, but she’s also a realist, so having her actually learn that living a life of art is difficult, and not something that she should attempt if she doesn’t actually have the passion.

Take Away: Building a life around your passions is difficult, but if it’s actually your passion you can find a way.

 

“Elementary School Medicine” was written by Tim Long and directed by Mark Kirkland, 2010.

 

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