Lifetime of Simpsons

S24 E12 – Love is a Many-Splintered Thing

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Do you remember how just a couple of weeks ago we had an episode where Bart seemingly randomly decided that the love of his life was Mary Spuckler, and he travelled to New York to pursue her? And remember how I thought that whole concept was poorly realized and appeared to just exist because Zooey Deschanel was super popular because of New Girl? Well here’s another one!

The entire episode has a very weird frame story to it, parodying Annie Hall, with Bart dressed up as Woody Allen and talking to us about love. And it all starts off with him telling us all about what he knows about women. Which isn’t much. We then get a weird scene of Homer being bossed around by his GPS and getting into a car accident, all to then establish that Bart got most of his male influencing from the school bullies.

Because while at school Bart is successfully badgered into pranking some random girl and scare her with a bug. He agrees to do this, but as he pranks the girl he suddenly realizes that it’s Mary Spuckler, and is blown away. Mary has apparently come back to Springfield after fleeing from Cleetus at the end of that last episode, and didn’t tell Bart. But they’re both still interested in each other, and even though Bart has to push her in some mud to save face with the bullies, they make plans to hang out that Saturday and reconnect.

However, Bart is a bad dude, because when Mary shows up on Saturday it appears that his whole plan for the day was to have her sit on the couch with him while he plays video games. Which Mary is not interested in. She starts to get super bored and irritated, so Lisa shows up and tries to tell Bart that he’s being an asshole. She tells Bart that he has to try harder, and be a more attentive boyfriend, or he’s going to lose Mary.

But do we think Bart’s going to learn that lesson? Nope! Because sometime in the future Bart is invited over to Cleetus and Brandine’s for dinner, and then gets to hang out with Mary afterwards. They go to her room and she ends up playing a song for him that she personally wrote. And the entire time he gets distracted by pigs, and just ignores her. This really pisses her off, but Bart does an okay job at trying to butter her up, managing to keep the relationship going, albeit by a thread.

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That night Bart gets back from this disastrously awkward date, and finds that Lisa is not pleased. She starts yelling at Bart that he needs to get his shit together or he’s going to lose Mary. She also yells at Homer a bit, basically for the same thing, but Homer super ignores her, so we’ll see how that works out for him. But Bart does seem like he actually wants to try and do better, and he leaves the conversation seemingly a little more enlightened.

Which is false. Because we then see that Mary has been accepted into some sort of hillbilly themed talent show, and she wants Bart to come cheer her on while playing her songs. And she loses. It’s not a crushing defeat or anything, but she doesn’t win, and Bart does a pretty piss poor job at consoling her. Luckily though as they’re squabbling Mary is approached by a Columbian record producer who wants to sign Mary up. She invites Mary to come hang out with him and his handsome son, and Mary is very interested, but wants Bart to come too. And then, because he’s an idiot, Bart makes a big deal about not caring about this whole thing, and refuses to go with her.

But the weirdest thing is that Bart immediately realizes that this was a terrible plan, and seems to just decide on his own that they must be broken up now. Bart gets super depressed that he lost Mary, even though it was all his fault, and he starts moping around Springfield. Hell, he even has some sort of hallucination where he talks to Woody Allen and gets terrible advice. And then, to really finish everything off, Bart finally meets with Mary and she officially says that they should go on a break. Which means they’re over.

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Bart then heads home, depressed, and finds that Homer is also in trouble for basically the same thing. Marge is mad at him for being so inattentive, and Bart ends up trying to stick up for Homer, yelling that women don’t make relationships easy. And, just like that, Homer and Bart are temporarily kicked out of the house. Luckily Homer apparently knows of some weird hotel that caters specifically for sad men who have been kicked out of their homes, so the two go move in there for a bit.

While sitting around in this sad hotel Bart decides that he can’t give up on Mary, and ends up calling her to see how she’s doing. And it turns out she’s doing great! Apparently her creative impulses really get amped up when she’s sad, and she’s writing songs like crazy. So Bart is crushed yet again. And the next day Homer and Bart end up talking to all of the other sad men outside in the courtyard, and they end up watching some British rom-coms, and they decide that the only way to win their spouses back is by grand romantic gestures!

And their plan is really weird! Because we see Marge and all of the other women get fancy letter, inviting them to this sad hotel. All of the women arrive, and find the men in suits, with an orchestra, and a whole song prepared begging the women to come back to them. And it works. Everything is forgiven. Well, not everything. Because Mary does show up, but she makes it clear that she’s over Bart, and wants to stay with the Brazilian boy. So Bart’s crushed. There’s then one final Bart as Woody Allen bit where he says that he’s giving up on love. Until Lisa shows up as Annie Hall and yells at him, telling Bart that one bad relationship shouldn’t spoil him on love forever, and he kind of decides that that makes sense.

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This episode bugs the hell out of me. First of all there’s the fact that we have yet another episode where we’re supposed to buy that Mary Spuckler is some great lost love of Bart’s despite them having almost no interactions with each other. I guess this episode did the most to make us think that they have any chemistry, but it still just is so clear that they picked Mary because New Girl was popular on Fox at the time. But honestly I think the biggest thing that bugs me about this episode is that Bart is such an unmitigated asshole in this episode. Yeah, people don’t know how to be in relationships inherently, but why is Bart such a prick? He just treats Mary like crap, despite getting so many chances to do the right thing, and then is baffled at why she gets frustrated and leaves him. And, to make matters worse, then end of this episode has a bunch of shitty dudes doing big romantic gestures to win their spouses back, despite that being ludicrous. Yeah, Bart doesn’t win Mary back, but it works for everyone else. And grand romantic gestures aren’t what fix relationships. That takes time and work, not showy nonsense that functions as little more than a bandaid on a problem. I don’t know guys, this episode just irritates me to no end, and I really hope this is the last we see of Mary, and that we don’t do another love episode for a while, because it really feels like they aren’t getting it right lately.

Take Away: Love is far more complicated than a stupid movie would portray it, and it takes both participants to be invested.

 

“Love is a Many Splintered Thing” was written by Tim Long and directed by Michael Polcino, 2013.

 

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