Folks. I have good news for you today. For basically the first time this season I have an episode to share with you that didn’t result in active dislike. It’s far from perfect, but this is an episode I can actually say I enjoyed. Which, I’ve got to tell you, is a welcome surprise after the episodes I’ve been dredging through lately.
Things start off with Lisa walking into the lunchroom at Springfield Elementary, walking up to Lunchlady Doris. She starts dramatically yawning, trying to get Doris to inquire, and when she doesn’t Lisa just steams ahead. She announces that she’s tired because she stayed up late the previous night watching French films, and then spent the whole night have dreams that felt like French films. Doris really couldn’t care less, but the episode then starts having a French narrator.
With her attempted conversation/humble brag with Doris shot down, Lisa then has to go through the pain and humiliation of trying to find somewhere to sit at lunch. Which doesn’t go well. No one wants to sit with Lisa, and she’s forced to sit at a table by herself in the corner. But, as she begins sullenly eating, she notices that there’s a loose brick in the wall. She investigates, and ends up coming across a very old lunch box that appears to have belonged to Jasper, back when he was a little boy who just looked like an old man.
So, Lisa heads to the park, where Grandpa and the Old Jewish Man are sitting on a bench, waiting for Jasper. She ends up putting the old lunch box on a different bench, and gets Jasper’s attention. He finds the box, and is absolutely blown away. It was stolen from him when he was a boy, and its sudden appearance gives him a massive amount of joy and magic. Which thrills Lisa, causing the French narrator to tell us that she’s now going to start spreading magic and joy to the people of Springfield.
Before we see how that pans out though, we’re introduced to the main plot of the episode, which begins with Homer wandering into the kitchen to find a smorgasbord of Tupperware containers. He excitedly opens them, expecting to find goodies, and is aghast to find them all empty. Marge then shows up and tells him that she’s planning on selling Tupperware now, because they could use the extra money. And, Homer has absolutely no problems with that, and gives his blessing.
So, Marge hits the streets of Springfield, looking for women who want to buy Tupperware. Well, specifically she’s looking for people willing to host Tupperware parties, since that whole system is insane. And, it’s that caveat that ruins her chances. No one is willing to throw a party, and she ends up despondent, heading to Julio’s beauty shop to get her hair done and vent.
Marge tells Julio about her failures, and he realizes that her biggest problem is that she just lacks confidence. So, he offers to throw a Tupperware party for Marge, and give her a makeover to try and help for her confidence. Later that night Homer and Marge arrive at Julio’s apartment, and Homer immediately starts to get bored and fussy, so Marge sends him off to Moe’s to get him out of her hair.
Julio then begins the makeover, trying to get Marge to embrace her female warrior and find her confidence. And, it works. Marge loves the way she looks, and when all of Julio’s gay friends arrive to buy Tupperware she becomes an instant hit. Although, there is a slight issue. The guys immediately assume that Marge is just the most convincing drag queen they’ve ever seen, and Julio decides not to correct them. And, because they love Marge so much, they end up buying a whole shitload of Tupperware, to the point that the French narrator gets interested and starts narrating for her too.
However, after all the other men leave, and Marge is telling Julio how happy she is it went well, he decides to tell her the truth. He explains that they all thought she was a drag queen, and she’s pretty shocked. But, when Julio says that they were responding to her confidence, she decides that she should continue marketing towards gay men and other drag queens, because apparently there’s a precedent for drag queens having huge success as Tupperware salespeople, which the episode then proves to us by providing a bunch of links to news stories about just that thing. Marge is going to be a drag queen!
At the same time that this is all going on, Lisa is still living on the high she got from making Jasper’s life more magical. And, when that high starts to fade, she decides she’s going to keep it going, spreading joy and magic around Springfield. She starts this by finding Kirk and Luanne Van Houten at Krusty Burger, and sparking their romance by making Luanne think someone is flirting with Kirk.
She then finds Gil, who is busy passing out fliers to people, and together with Bart comes and takes them all while wearing a variety of costumes, making him think he’s a very prolific person. But, these objectives are small potatoes compared to her biggest idea. She’s going to mend the relationship between Agnes and Seymour Skinner.
And, to do this she ends up writing a whole fake diary that would be attributed to Seymour, and is going to leave it inside their house. She uses a spare key Bart has had made, and put it in a place where Agnes is sure to snoop. And, sure enough, it works. Agnes reads the diary, all about how much Seymour loves her, and she actually starts acting nicer to him, as Lisa notices while spying on them at the grocery store. Unfortunately, shortly after that Agnes realizes it’s fake, and it causes a huge fight in the middle of the school, causing Lisa to reveal the truth, and flee in shame.
While all of this is going on though, Marge is embracing her time as a drag queen. Julio takes her to Springfield’s most popular drag club, where she’s introduced to all the other drag queens. They give her some tips, and even sing a song while helping her flesh out this “Marge” character she’s developed, making her even more confident. To the point that she start going around town in her regular life, being salty to people in her life like Helen Lovejoy.
And, it really starts to pay off. Marge is making bank as a Tupperware salesman, and Homer is reaping in the rewards. He goes and brags to the guys at the bar about all the money she’s making, and they end up telling him the truth. They’ve learned what Marge is doing, and give him the address where her latest party is being held.
So, Homer liquors up and heads to the party, shocked to find that Marge is all dressed up pretending to be a drag queen. And, because he’s in a shitty mood, Homer starts loudly telling the crowds the truth, making them instantly turn on Marge. Which then makes Homer realize he messed up. He attempts to apologize, but Marge is too furious at him, mad that he took away her confidence. She then storms off and spends most of the night by herself, fuming, until she comes home and finds Lisa crying in her room.
But, as Marge starts to console Lisa we get spoken to by the French narrator again, who tells us that things are bad for the Simpsons women, but that they’ll get better. And, to start that off, we see that the next day at school Lisa is given a message telling her to go to the roof. She does so, and finds all the people she gave magic to, waiting to have lunch with her as a sign of their appreciation, giving Lisa somewhere to sit. With a bunch of sad adults she sort of knows.
Homer’s path to a happier ending isn’t as smooth though. He’s at Moe’s, complaining about how he ruined Marge’s career, until Moe gives him some accidental advice. So, Homer speeds off, and arrives at the drag club that Marge has been hanging out at. She’s there, telling the other drag queens that she’s depressed and thinks that this is the last straw for their marriage, which is wild, until Homer marches out in full drag. And this fixes things. Marge forgives Homer and the two start dancing while the drag queens of Springfield cheer them on.
This episode was surprisingly strong, in my opinion. When I realized that this was going to be an episode of the Simpsons all about drag culture, I was a little worried. It seemed like something that the show could have pulled off wonderfully in its prime, but the current era of the Simpsons didn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence. But, it worked. We’ve seen so many episodes that revolve around “Marge tries to get a new job and is instantly terrible at it.” And those episodes are a bummer. But here we get an episode where Marge tires a new career, and becomes amazing at it, all while finding a new group of friends and a new passion that gives her confidence. And that’s amazing! It’s completely absurd, and almost episode breaking, that Marge decides Homer revealing she’s not actually a man is enough to make her consider divorce, but the rest of the episode works well enough to let me push that bit of lunacy aside. The Lisa stuff is fine too, I guess, but I’m always a fan of seeing Marge be treated like a real person, which sadly isn’t something we see much anymore.
“Werking Mom” was written by Carolyn Omine and Robin Sayers and directed by Michael Polcino, 2018.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons