Hey everyone, it’s the middle of the week so how about we get over this hump by talking about a story where the Simpsons children befriend a kindly homeless woman and let her live in their house? It’s always great to see random people live in the Simpson’s home.
The episode begins with Marge walking into the kitchen, and noticing that one of the tiles on the floor is loose. She begins lamenting the fact that no one in the house is handy, and says that she’s going to need to call a handyman to fix it for them. Which ends up pissing off Homer. His fragile masculinity is broken, and he decides to make a huge stink, insisting that he could easily fix a tile if he wanted to. So, relenting from his complaints, Marge decides to let Homer do it.
This handyman thing is actually going to be coming back throughout the episode though, it’s not just a random little first act bit. But, before we see how that shakes out, we need to set up the primary plot. Which begins with Bart going out to have a fun sled race with the other kids. However, when he starts going down the hill he notices that Milhouse is holding them up, so he kicks him off to go faster. This was a miscalculation though, because Bart ends up going too fast, and careens down the hill out of control until he strikes a homeless lady’s cart, knocking it into a lake. And, immediately, he feels terrible.
But it’s Homer time now! Because over at the house he’s realized how woefully unequipped he is to actually fix the tile. Luckily, Lisa shows him a YouTube tutorial that lets him go through the process nice and slow. And, it’s such a good tutorial that Homer is eventually able to fix the tile! Marge is incredibly impressed, and Homer feels a surge of pride. Well, until he realizes that he accidentally trapped Snowball under the floorboards. Whoops!
As Homer is panicking about the possible death of Snowball we see that Bart has returned home with a special guest. It’s Hettie, the homeless woman whose belongings Bart has ruined. Because he feels bad Bart decides to try making it up to Hettie by letting her live in the Simpson’s house. He sneaks her past Homer and Marge, and brings her up to his room so that she can start living in his closet.
Bart has done this in some sort of reparations for ruining all of Hettie’s earthly belongings, but she seems to think that this is too good of a deal, so she insists to rent the closet from Bart. She tells him that she’ll give him a dollar a day for as long as she lives there. And, seven dollars a week is a ridiculous amount for Bart, so he quickly starts to live big pimpin’ going around Springfield and throwing his dollars around to get candy and whatnot. Which makes Lisa start to get suspicious.
So, this episode is clearly going to be about Hettie. But, that Homer plot with Snowball trapped under the kitchen floorboards is something that we’re going to be coming back to occasionally, but not often. First off we see that she’s gotten out of the floor, and into the walls, which leads Homer to wander around the house, trying to find where she’s scurried off to. And, while doing so, finds that Lisa is snooping around the house, trying to find out where Bart’s getting all this money.
We then see that during the day Hettie heads down to busy areas of Springfield, and sings songs and plays her guitar for the money that she gives Bart for rent. Bart heads over to chat with Hettie, which is when Lisa springs her trap. She’s been following Bart, and when she hears Bart and Hettie discuss their rent she finally understands what’s going on, and starts yelling at Bart for exploiting a poor homeless woman.
Hettie doesn’t really seem to care though, and while Lisa starts yelling at Bart about all of his terrible behavior Hettie ends up singing one of her songs. And Lisa is blown away. Hettie is a great singer, and has a very powerful folk style, which enthralls Lisa instantly. It transports her back to the Great Depression, and she decides that since Hettie has a great musical gift that she’s fine with helping Bart keep her secret at the house.
But, Lisa plans on treating her better. She’s going to let her live in her closet for free, and the two start to bond. Especially when Lisa learns that Hettie’s father is actually a pretty famous Appalachian folks singer that she’s heard of. So, because of this, Lisa decides to start recording some of Hettie’s songs, figuring that she should archive them for posterity since they represent the music of a dying people. Even though the song she records is mainly about peeing in a Barns and Noble.
Lisa then takes that recording of the song and brings it for Mr. Largo to listen to. He’s pretty impressed, and Lisa uses that to ask him for some sound equipment. Lisa has a plan to host a massive concert for Hettie, and she starts hustling around town, hoping to find people to invest and become interested in the concert. And, slowly but surely, she starts to get it all set up. But, as the concert is starting to come together, Bart shows up to rain on her parade. He says that Hettie is going to break Lisa’s heart, because this always happens, and Bart doesn’t want to see Lisa get hurt. But, Lisa insists that this will be fine.
But, before we see how that plays out for Lisa, we need to check back in on Homer. Because things have escalated! Snowball has been trapped in the walls of the house for quite some time, and Homer’s having a hell of a time keeping it from the rest of the family. Although he finally corners her in the basement, and breaks into the wall, hoping to chase her down. He does manage to do this, but in the process gets Santa’s Little Helper trapped in the walls too.
Now that we’ve had that little moment of slapstick we check back in on Lisa’s plot, where nothing is about to go wrong. She’s arranged for Hettie to be interviewed on a local NPR station to promote her concert, and while there the host starts asking Hettie about her childhood. Which is when Hettie starts to talk about her years of heroin dependency, and her history of screwing over everyone who ever tries to help her. Whoops!
Lisa becomes very worried that Hettie is going to break her heart, just like Bart said, and to make matters worse she ends up vanishing the day of the concert. Lisa then decides that she needs real help, and finally admits to Marge that a homeless woman has been living in her closet. Oh, and Marge tells Homer that she knows about the pets in the walls, and has rescued them so that he can be available for the A-Plot now.
Homer tells Lisa to go keep the crowd at the concert happy with some of her sax music while he and Bart go find Hettie. And, because Bart remembers her smelling like moonshine they decide to go check at Cleetus’ house. And, sure enough, they find her drunk and passed out on Cleetus’ property. Homer and Bart yell at Hettie a bit, and she decides to try and get her act together and head out to the concert to keep her promise to Lisa.
However, by the time that that happens everyone has long since left. Lisa’s sax playing wasn’t enough to keep their attention, and now the venue is empty, and Lisa’s heart is broken. Hettie finally does show up though, and Lisa starts venting at her, which makes Hettie sad. So, she starts playing one of her songs, and it’s so moving that Lisa is able to find some forgiveness for her. She then helps Hettie find a rehab facility, so she’ll presumably be better in the future.
I liked this episode. At times it did feel a tad hackneyed, even to the point where Bart comments on the fact that Lisa has gone through similar plots countless times before and just never seems to learn the lesson of not putting her heart on the line for these eccentric weirdos she befriends. But, even though this is a plot that’s been well-tread in the past doesn’t keep it from being a pretty fun story. I even really enjoyed the silly little Homer story, which kept popping up as a slapstick palate cleanser to the relatively heavy A-Plot. The music in the episode was also pretty fun, with it’s ridiculous lyrics and legitimately great folk instrumentals. It’s not an episode that’s going to stay indelibly in my memory or anything, but it was a fun little story, which I can always appreciate.
Take Away: Let weird ladies live in your closet, they may turn out to be troubled musicians!
“Gal of Constant Sorrow” was written by Carolyn Omine and directed by Matthew Nastuk, 2016.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons