Lifetime of Simpsons

S22 E05 – Lisa Simpson, This Isn’t Your Life

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Hi there everyone, and welcome back to another week of Lifetime of Simpsons. And guess what? We have another fun Lisa episode. Sadly the rest of the week breaks the chain, but Season 22 somehow started off with four incredibly great Lisa episodes, which is certainly something to be happy about. The rest of the week has some good episodes, but we’re really starting off with a high note here.

The episode begins with Homer and the kids sitting on the couch and watching an Itchy and Scratchy about basketball. Once the short is done we see that it’s time for Krusty to start hocking some garbage. Turns out Krusty’s show is sponsored by a gas station chain, and they’re doing some sort of promotion where people get a free Happy Little Elves toy whenever they get ten gallons of gas. And Maggie has apparently gotten all of them but one, and since the promotion is about to end she begins begging the family to go get her that final one.

So the family pile up into the car and go seeking out one of the gas stations that’s selling the toys. They end up getting out to the middle of nowhere and finally find one. Unfortunately they then find out that the toys are blind-boxed, and the one that Maggie is missing is intentionally scarce. So Homer begins spending more and more money buying gallon after gallon of gas, getting dozens of elves. And they’re all the wrong ones.

They spend a shocking amount of time and money on the damn elves, until Marge finally tells Homer that it’s hopeless and that they should give up. Homer isn’t happy about this, but he finally capitulates and they head home. However, because they were out in the middle of nowhere they get kind of lost, and end up in a weird part of town. And it just so happens that it’s the neighborhood that Marge grew up in.

They drive around the town, and Marge ends up guiding them to the house that she grew up in. The family stop to gawk at it, and the crazy lady that lives there ends up wandering over to talk to them and invites them inside. Marge shows the family the house, telling them about how it looked when she was a child. And she has a surprise. Apparently a box labeled “Marge’s Stuff” was left in the attic. So Marge and Lisa go through it, looking at all the mementos from Marge’s childhood.

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And while they’re going through the box Lisa finds something shocking. There are a bunch of schoolwork from Marge’s childhood, and she was a phenomenal student. Marge was apparently one of the best students at Springfield Elementary, which makes Lisa wonder what happened to her. Marge seemed to have a really promising life ahead of her, but Lisa is shocked that she’s a housewife now, and she decides she needs to figure out what happened so that she can avoid that fate.

While Lisa is busy doing some research we are introduced to a goofy little B-Plot. It begins when some drainage backs up at Springfield Elementary and the whole playground becomes a horrible mud pit. Bart decides to parasail on the mud, and ends up accidentally smashing into Nelson. Nelson gets pissed and tries to attack Bart, but keeps slipping and falling, making everyone laugh at him. And this sets off a series of coincidences that will happen throughout the episode where Nelson keeps trying to get even with Bart, and then accidentally hurts himself, making everyone think that Bart’s a bully. He gets smashed by a tetherball and slips into an open locker and getting himself struck, just making his wrath grow.

Meanwhile, Lisa decides to go talk to Principal Skinner about Marge’s grades, and confirms that Marge was once Springfield Elementary’s most promising students. Buts Skinner does warn Lisa that kids often end up like their parents, and warns her that things might not end up the way she wants them too. But Lisa won’t accept that, and begins to do some research. She ends up getting all of Marge’s schoolwork and finds that he grades dropped dramatically in her senior year of high school. So Lisa does some research and finds the culprit. Marge’s grades tanked when she started dating Homer.

So Lisa storms down to the kitchen where Homer is making some sort of gum cigar, and demands to know why he caused Marge’s downfall. Homer explains that all people find their “Homer,” something that will cause people to lose interest in school. Lisa hates this idea, and declares that she will become forever focused on education, and won’t let anything distract her for the rest of her life.

Lisa then heads up to her room and decides to get rid of absolutely everything that could be a distraction from school. She even decides that her saxophone is a distraction, and throws it out of her window. Marge notices this, and asks Homer if he knows what’s up. Which puts Homer in the awkward position of having to tell Marge that Lisa is disgusted by the idea of growing up to be like her mother.

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This obviously crushes Marge, and the next morning she decides to confront Lisa about it. Lisa tries to be diplomatic, but does confirm that she thinks that being a stay-at-home-mother is a depressing outcome, and something she’s going to avoid. The two aren’t able to reconcile these issues before Lisa has to go to school though, and she spends the whole day trying to find ways to make sure she won’t have distractions.

And on the way home she finds the answer. Because while the school bus is sitting at a red light she sees a fancy bus for a place called Cloister’s Academy that’s an extremely academic-focused school for smart rich kids. She then runs home and demands that Homer and Marge send her to Cloister’s. So Homer and Marge agree to take Lisa to check out the Academy, and she’s instantly taken with it. However, it’s very expensive, and the snooty administrator they meet makes it clear that she won’t be able to afford it. But Marge decides to help Lisa have a better life, and asks Homer and Lisa to leave the room so she can yell at the guy. And when she’s done he agrees that Lisa can now come to Cloister’s Academy.

But hey, let’s wrap up that Bart plot. Throughout the whole episode we would pop back briefly to see Bart continue to make Nelson mad, and now things are getting dire. So he asks Marge for some advice, and Marge tells him that bullies are all dealing with their own issues, and if Bart makes a connection with Nelson things will stop. So that afternoon when Nelson comes to attack Bart, he starts trying to compliment Nelson. He compliments him about his teeth and his wardrobe, but they aren’t working. However, when Bart tries complimenting him on his bullying techniques, things change. Nelson suddenly is impressed that Bart notices his devotion to his craft, and the two end up working things out.

Anyway, Lisa has started to attend Cloister’s Academy, and things are going great. She loves every little thing about the Academy, and it’s clearly making her happier than she can even express. However, one night she wakes up and notices that the laundry machines are going. She goes down to the basement and finds something shocking. Marge didn’t yell at that guy, she agreed to do the whole academy’s laundry in lieu of paying. So now Marge is going insane, and doing laundry 24/7. Lisa is horrified that Marge is doing this to herself, and despite her love for the Academy, she decides to do the right thing and tell Marge that she’s quitting the school so Marge can be happy. She then tells Marge that she’s such a wonderful mother, and she’d be delighted to be like her when she grows up.

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I really liked this episode. It actually has a very similar structure to most of the classic Homer/Lisa episodes, but with Marge switching out the parent role. We have Lisa being a bit rude and making a sweeping generalization, while Marge tries to fix things, causing them to find common ground. Which is a basic structure that really works well for me. Although this episode does have an interesting way to handle things by having Lisa be quite in the wrong. Having Lisa be horrible, and thinking that Marge’s life is horrible, and then being demeaning to her is very unlike Lisa, but also something that made sense. Lisa is a very driven person, and I could see her deciding to focus on what she wants, because she wants a better life than Marge’s. But she words it so horribly, and doesn’t know how to back down. But, being a good mother, Marge deals with that insult, and decides to try and make Lisa’s life better anyway. Which is so sweet. And then Lisa learns the truth, and knows that being a housewife isn’t what defines Marge, but being the best mother she possibly can be does. And, while being a mother isn’t exactly something she wants right now, being as compassionate and giving a person as Marge is is something she does.

Take Away: Give your parents some slack, they’re doing the best they can to make your life as good as possible.

 

“Lisa Simpson, This Isn’t Your Life” was written by Joel H Cohen and directed by Mathew Nastuk, 2010.

 

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