Lifetime of Simpsons

S23 E22 – Lisa Goes Gaga

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Hey, so you know how yesterday I mentioned that this week we were going to talk about a real stinker of an episode? Well that day has arrived! Because the folks behind the Simpsons decided to close out Season 23 with this utterly baffling episode. How do you feel about episodes that get completely derailed by a celebrity cameo, causing the entire narrative to bow down to their glory? Because that’s what we’re getting today!

This episode starts off with an odd voiceover narrating to us, talking about Springfield. The voice tells us how happy and simple Springfield is, while filling us in on all the insane things that they’re famous for, but also confirming how average the town it. But, that’s about to change, because something magical is coming to Springfield to change it forever. And what is it? Why it’s Lady Gaga, who is driving around the country on a weird train that looks like her, complete with plenty of room for her dancers to constantly practice and her to wear all her weird outfits.

Oh, and Lady Gaga is apparently magical. She seems to be able to spontaneously create happiness, and can sense when people are unhappy. So she’s made it her quest to find the town with the lowest self-esteem in America, and fix them. And, of course, it’s Springfield. More specifically, it’s Lisa. Because we then cut back to Springfield and see that Lisa is even more depressed than normal right now, because she “won” some sort of award at school for being the least popular kid. Which is a bummer.

This award really starts to bother Lisa, and she becomes very sad. Until that night when Milhouse is over for dinner, and decides to try and cheer her up. Because apparently the kids of Springfield Elementary School use some sort of message board all the time, and he’s found an anonymous post from some person calling themselves Truth Teller who tries to defend Lisa. This Truth Teller person writes a massive post about how great Lisa is, and how unfair it is that everyone keeps dumping on her.

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And this actually works wonders. Lisa seems to have her self-esteem boosted, and the next day they find that because one single person seems to like Lisa, she can’t be all bad. All the other kids start being nicer to Lisa, and her popularity really starts turning around. That is until Bart realizes who Truth Teller is. It’s Lisa. Lisa’s faking this whole thing. And, when he accidentally reveals this Lisa finds herself in an even worse position than before.

While all of this has been going on we’ve occasionally been cutting back to Lady Gaga, who has been getting weird psychic readings about Lisa, confirming that she needs to get to Springfield as fast as possible. The train then goes full steam ahead, and they quickly arrive in Springfield, which absolutely loses their goddamn minds. The whole town arrives to see the train arrive, and Gaga immediately gets out to perform a show for them.

Lisa really didn’t want to go to this show, but Homer manages to convince her that it’ll be fun and could cheer her up, so Lisa is one of the many people watching Gaga arrive. Gaga ends up giving them a huge speech about loving themselves no matter what, that turns into a huge song and dance number. And everyone loves it. Except Lisa. And Gaga somehow notices that Lisa is the person not having fun, and decides to point her out and make a big fuss about her sadness.

Obviously, Lisa is not a fan of being made the center of attention, and she freaks out. Gaga does recognize this, and decides to go more incognito. She sheds her crazy costumes and just goes to talk to Lisa as a normal person. The two end up walking all around Springfield, talking about sadness and happiness, before ending up at the house. Lisa invites her in, and shows Gaga all of the message board drama.

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Gaga realizes she has her work cut out for her, but doesn’t give up. So Gaga begins trying all sorts of methods to make Lisa less depressed, and nothing seems to work. She won’t give up though, and goes to talk to Marge a bit to get some advice. Marge explains that she’s always worried about Lisa, because she recognizes how smart and sensitive Lisa is, and just can’t understand why she’s so sad all the time. But before we get any sort of insight from this avenue Gaga just decides to kiss Marge for some reason, which spurs Marge on to having amazing sex with Homer. Wait, what? What does that even mean? Why did that happen?

Whatever, we’re not going to get any answers on that front. Because we then head back to the school, where Gaga has shown up to watch Lisa get bullied. Gaga tries to convince everyone to be nice and happy all of the time, which finally is the straw that breaks Lisa’s back. She starts yelling at Gaga, telling her that this whole thing has been about her, not actually trying to cheer Lisa up. Which seems accurate, but it really makes Gaga sad, causing her to run off.

For some reason this then puts Lisa in the position of trying to help Gaga. She goes home that night, feeling bad that she upset Gaga, when she gets in a conversation with Homer, who gives her horrible advice. He feels that the only problem with what Lisa did was that she got caught, and encourages her to be more sneaky in the future. Which, I don’t know, I guess?

But while Homer is giving Lisa this advice she realizes that she has been a little ungrateful that this person took time out of their life to make her happy, and races off to apologize to Gaga. Lisa manages to jump on to Gaga’s train just as it’s about to leave Springfield, and she tells tells Gaga how thankful she is for helping her, and gives a big speech about all the things she loves about herself. And they sing Of course they sing. But after that everything ends with Lisa having slightly higher self-esteem, so I guess that’s good.

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Okay, listen. If there’s one type of Simpson’s episode that I’ve grown to hate it’s the ones where they let a guest star completely take over the episode. And this is probably the most egregious example of that type of episode. This is an episode of the Simpsons that spend it’s entire run time trying to tell us that Lady Gaga is the greatest human being who ever lived, some sort of magical saint whose only goal in life is to make people happy. Which would he heavy handed if the guest star was the Dali Lama, let alone Lady fucking Gaga. This episode is just absolutely absurd. And it doesn’t even offer any insight into Lisa’s self esteem issues. Those have been mined for some truly great episodes, but this one just takes it for granted, and uses it as an excuse to heap more praise on Gaga. They came close to having an interesting thought when they had Marge talk about how much it saddens her to see Lisa so sad, but they just destroyed that by having Lady Gaga kiss Marge Simpson for no discernible reason. It’s all just pretty rough here folks. I know that their hearts were in the right place, trying to impart the lesson that everyone has things that make them special, but it just ends up coming off as some recruitment video for a Lady Gaga themed cult.

Take Away: Be comfortable with who you are. And Lady Gaga is your god now.

 

“Lisa Goes Gaga” was written by Tim Long and directed by Matthew Schofield, 2012.

 

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