Well, I guess it’s time to finish off this mostly forgettable week here on Lifetime of Simpsons. And what better way to do it than by dealing with something that’s near and dear to everyone. The confusion you feel when you learn someone you know is a Republican. Relatable stuff. Oh, and it also starts off with a bizarre, but pretty fun, little opening sequence that’s a parody of an old Merry Melody-esque animation style where everyone in Springfield is a sentient instrument, while Lisa is trying to bring Jazz to the people who are controlled by the Classical-fixated Burns. I don’t know why it exists, but it’s pretty fun.
Anyway! The episode actually begins with the students of Springfield Elementary happily fleeing from the school, and out into the rain. It seems like it’s the end of the day, but I think it must be recess, because they go back to school almost immediately. All of the kids seem psyched to be free, except Lisa, who is moping around in the rain and singing “One (Is the Loneliest Number)” to herself, because this is an episode all about Lisa being sad.
But, like I said, they all seem to head right back into the school, either after a break or the next day, and Lisa is still feeling really depressed and lonely. Which obviously means that Bart needs to start harassing her as much as possible. He attacks her with spit-balls, and she has no choice but to flee from her brother, and seek refuge in her usual hideout. The library. It seems to be absolutely empty, so she starts wandering the stacks, looking for something to read.
However, while she’s walking around she ends up running into another person in the library, which is apparently a shocking thing. It turns out that this is a new girl, who is in the second grade, and whose name is Isabel. Lisa and Isabel begin chatting, and it quickly becomes evident that they’re basically the same person. They start geeking out, talking about Jane Austin and anagrams, like cool people, and they immediately decide that they should be best friends.
Lisa and Isabel then begins spending a lot of time together, both at school and talking on the phone at home. And one day while they’re chatting at their homes Isabel notices that they’re both planning on giving presentations about Franklin Roosevelt, and she suggests that they pool their resources and do a join presentation. Lisa thinks this is a great idea, and the two get to work on their two halves of the presentation, apparently just planning on smooshing them together on the day of the assembly.
Which was a bad call! Because as the two are standing up in the auditorium, taking turns reading their essays, Lisa starts to notice something odd. Isabel doesn’t see FDR as any sort of hero. In fact, she seems to think he was a monster who stifled American ingenuity. This is a serious red flag for Lisa, and she tries to surreptitiously ask Isabel what her deal is, and learns something truly horrible about her. Isabel is a Republican.
This information terrifies Lisa, and the two end up getting into a heated ideological debate, squabbling with each other before ultimately deciding that they’re too different to be friends now. Lisa is obviously crushed by this revelation, and goes home that day to tell Marge about the whole story. And, while trying to cheer her up, Marge reveals to Lisa that in the 80’s she got swept up in a conservative phase, and tries to convince Lisa that this shouldn’t be a deal-breaker, because Isabel could possibly grow out of her conservatism.
Apparently Isabel got similar advice from her parents, and the two decide to continue being friends, while choosing to stop talking about politics in the hopes that they’ll both just magically change somehow. And they are terrible at this. Because almost immediately the two learn that the school will be holding class president elections, and they both decide to run against each other. I don’t think that Elementary school elections usually involve political parties, but that doesn’t really matter right now.
Oh, and to make matters even crazier, it turns out that the local branch of the Republican Party has heard about this election, and that this smart young girl considers herself a Republican, so they decide to groom her for future leadership. So Burns and the other Republicans take Isabel out for ice cream, and offer to fund her campaign in order to launch her career. But, in a shocking display, Isabel refuses this offer, claiming that she wants to succeed on her own, not just thanks to money.
You would think that showing some integrity would bar her from aid from the GOP, but apparently Burns and the Republicans are so invested in Isabel that they decide to help her on their own. So they just decide to plaster the Elementary School with Isabel campaign material, which obviously catches Lisa off guard. But Isabel promises she had nothing to do with it, and ensures that she wants to run an honest campaign about real ideals and principles, so Lisa decides to overlook the large amount of money that’s clearly being spent on Isabel.
But Lisa realizes that she needs to do something special to beat Isabel. She needs Bart to be her campaign manager. He agrees, and beings a bizarre campaign, with tactics like putting Isabel’s face on dodge balls before the bullies assault people to create negative psychological associations, holding ridiculous mock-debates, and threatening to release a video of Isabel needing training wheels on her bike.
This is all too much for Lisa though. She decides she can’t abide this kind of shifty politics, and ends up firing Bart to run her own campaign. The debates then begin, which are apparently multiple day affairs, and they actually keep things to their ideals. However, that night Lisa has a strange dream where she’s visited by the ghosts of several Democrat politicians who ran on ideals, and lost to fear-mongering Republicans, because even though Democrats are often in the right, they often loose.
Lisa wakes up from this dream, panicking, but still doesn’t want to stoop to Bart’s level. She decides to just finish the debates, and see how things end up. And, after a well-argued debate, the election is held, and Isabel wins. But Lisa doesn’t mind, because she didn’t sell out her principles, and some exit-polling said that people likes her ideals, just not her. We then end the episode by jumping ahead to the year 2056 where Lisa and Isabel are both debating for the Presidency of the United States.
Overall I think I liked this episode. It’s nice to see a Lisa-heavy episode that all about her fighting for her ideals, it’s just kind of a bummer to watch this episode after the disastrous 2016 election. The idea that finding out a person you’re friends with is a Republican, and thus feeling like you can no longer speak to that person was probably just a silly joke when this episode came out. But that’s kind of just life now. Seeing Lisa and Isabel have their little war or ideals, even though they’re eight and probably have no idea what they’re talking about, was pretty fun. But when you watch this episode from our current lens, that ending is fucking bleak. Because seeing people vote against their interests because they don’t find the Democrat woman that appealing is pretty spot-on to reality, and it kind of sucks to see.
Take Away: Don’t vote Republican.
“The Kid is All Right” was written by Tim Long and directed by Mark Kirkland, 2013.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons
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