I don’t think there’s any character on the Simpsons that I’ve had such a change of heart with over the years that I’ve been enjoying the show. Not even Bart, whom we’ll get to tomorrow. Because when I was a kid, first watching this show, I really couldn’t stand Lisa. Maybe it was part of some stupid gender-norms that were baked into me as a kid where I just wasn’t interested in “Girl Stories” or because when you get right down to it Lisa reminded me too much of myself. But, for whatever reason, Lisa was a character that I pushed back at for most of my childhood. I watched the Simpsons for funny jokes, and Lisa isn’t often allowed to give the real broad, low-brow jokes that I was getting easily from Bart and Homer. Stories that revovled around Lisa were all about feelings, and stuff like that that Little Patrick had no interest in.
But, as I’ve grown older, matured, and become more comfortable with who I am, I’ve realized just what an incredibly solid character that Lisa is, and what a massive impact that she’s had on my life.
Lisa Simpson is possibly the most fully-realized character on the show. She’s a young person who is filled with untapped potential, and has all of the excitement and anxiety that comes along with that. She’s a person who finds herself in an unsupportive town, a place almost completely devoid of the stimulation that she needs to be the person she wants to be. But she doesn’t let that beat her down. She knows who she is, and knows that if she puts her mind to it, she can be a success. The very best Lisa plots often revolve around Lisa learning something new about the world, and trying to better herself by adding it into her life. She tries new things, and is constantly trying to better herself. That often results in some growing pains as he has to learn that not everyone around her wants to be the way that she is. Lisa’s the kind of person who learns about a new way of life, and assumes that everyone should automatically believe the things that she does, often to some disastrous results. But, one of the most interesting things about Lisa is that she’s open to understanding that not everyone will be open to things. She’s had her stumbles, but she realizes that she doesn’t need to harangue people in being like her, to class Springfield up, she just has to be an active and engaging voice in her community and hope for the best.
And so much of Lisa’s strength comes from her performance. Yeardley Smith is a bit of an oddball in the Simpsons cast, since she really has only ever done Lisa. But she does it so well. Lisa is a character that probably requires the most emotion put into her performance, and Smith has consistently been one of the strongest members of the voice cast, giving us some truly wonderful performances as Lisa. She gets to run the gamut of emotions, because Lisa really is the most well-rounded of all the characters. She manages to make the exploits of an eternally eight-year old girl relevant and relateable to everyone, and it’s a hell of a feat.
I feel like no other character on the show is as big a writers surrogate than Lisa. She’s a bright, passionate, caring oddball who just doesn’t know how to fit into the world. And that speaks to a lot of people, myself included. For someone who had a lot of interests that didn’t seem to equate to popularity, the Simpsons included, it really is shocking how much the life of Lisa Simpson can mirror my own. She never lets it get her down though. She’ll have moments of loneliness and times where she’s not sure if she should be living the life that’s she’s chosen, but in the end the remembers one important thing about her. She is Lisa Simpson.
No matter what happens to Lisa, she’ll always have the knowledge. She is who she is. She doesn’t have to apologize for who she is, she just needs to embrace it and live the life she wants to live. The people around her may be baffled by the interests that she acquires, but that shouldn’t bother her. Because, she’s filled with an unbridled passion, a drive to be the best person that she can be. She’s able to do anything that she puts her mind to, and always will be able to. Which is why I love the earlier flashforward episodes that show a Lisa full of potential, finally accomplishing everything that she deserves to accomplish. She becomes the goddamn President of the United States! And this is also why I hate the majority of the modern flashforward episodes that show her as sad, married to Milhouse, and devoid of hope. It’s just such a serious bummer, and not at all the future that Lisa deserves.
Because I want the best for Lisa. It would make sense if things don’t work out the way that she wanted, since not everyone is able to turn their life into what they wanted it to be. Especially the vision of their future they had when they were eight. But, I still think that she should succeed. Because Lisa really is everything that I would want to be. She never gives up, she’s full of passion, and is determined to prove that she has something to offer the world. And we should all be so lucky to be that way. And, after a lifetime of having Lisa as a role model, I would hope that I am. Lisa may not always be the funniest member of the Simpsons family, but she’s the character that has most defined who I want to be. She shows that it’s okay to be caring, to be kind, and to be herself. She has occasionally tried to change herself to the status quo, but those plots almost always remind us that trying to be someone we aren’t isn’t worth it. She’s a character who is defined by the courage of her convictions, and we all could be more like Lisa Simpson.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons