Lifetime of Simpsons

S30 E12 – The Girl on the Bus

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Yesterday, against all odds, I found an episode I actually ended up enjoying. It had some shaky moments, but by and large I found myself having a good time with it. But, like Charlie Brown with the football, Season 30 saw that optimism and hit me hard. Because today’s episode is like a perfect storm of things that rub me the wrong way. Buckle up, this is a weird one.

The episode starts off with Kent Brockman giving some sort of local interest piece, telling the people of Springfield about various things that happened on that day throughout history in the town. Such as the Wright Brothers avoiding the city, Burns firing all female employees after World War II, and a fleet of brand new, top of the line school-buses being made in the seventies.

And, it turns out that these are the same school buses being used today, ushering children unsafely throughout the town while they participate in some sort of lunch-box based boxing league. Much to Lisa’s chagrin. She’s in a very judgmental mood this episode, as is demonstrated by the fact that she opens things up with a song about how much she hates everyone around her, that they’re all intolerable idiots, and that she’s leave in a heartbeat if given the chance.

And, while singing about how much better she is than everyone else, she looks out the window and notices a girl sitting on her porch, playing a clarinet. Which instantly fascinates Lisa, making her decide that this girl is her friendship soul-mate. And that obsession continues to that evening, where Lisa is forced to sit in front of the TV eating dinner with the family while they watch some sort of American Ninja Warrior show.

Lisa is disgusted by the show, and the fact that the family are eating dinner on trays instead of at the table, and does everything she can to derail the show and talk about the random girl she saw. She keeps trying to talk about the girl, to the point that the whole family gets irritated with her, thus pushing her into an even deeper funk.

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So, the next day, while Lisa is busy moping on the bus, she specifically looks out of the girl. And, when they reach the right neighborhood, she gets up and demands that Otto stop the bus so that she can get off. He complies, and Lisa starts wandering around the nicest neighborhood in Springfield, Springfield Heights, enjoying their culture and fancier outdoor mall.

Eventually though she makes her way to the clarinet girl’s house, and spots her crying upstairs in her room next to the window. So, logically, Lisa lets herself into this stranger’s house! And, almost immediately, Lisa is stricken by how perfect the house is, full of foreign art, great literature, and classy films. But, she doesn’t find the girl, so she decides to just head upstairs and talk to her.

Now, you might assume that this would freak the little girl out. But, for some reason, that’s not the case. She’s perfectly fine with a stranger showing up in her home, and just starts chatting with Lisa. She explains that she was crying about the Pacific Garbage Patch, and Lisa immediately decides that they’re perfect together, and that they should become best friends. The little girl agrees, and they end up jamming together! Because this episode is insane!

Now, I had to look up what this girl’s name was, because unless I missed it they never said it once. She’s Sam Monroe, and she wants this strange girl who broke into her home to stay for dinner. Lisa accepts, and has a lovely time with the Monroe’s, who are everything Lisa thinks adults should be. They just eat good food at a dinner table, make music together, and write down all the witty things they say.

Which means that when Lisa finally goes back to her house, she’s even more disappointed in them than normal. Their TV dinners and general lack of culture becomes unbearable for her, so Lisa starts spending more and more time with the Monroe’s, and they seem perfectly fine with this. They adore Lisa, and start to assume that if Lisa’s this great, the rest of her family must be too.

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But, they’re never going to have the chance to meet them, because they’re about to move away for Mr. Monroe’s research. So, Lisa decides to lie her ass off. She says that Homer is a sculptor, Marge is a chemist, Lisa is a non-linguistic communication professor, and Bart doesn’t exist. She even pretends that Ned is her father when they drop her off at her house.

However, when Lisa goes back over to say her final goodbyes, they have something shocking to tell her. The research project got cancelled, they aren’t moving anymore, and they want to meet the Simpsons. So, doubling down, Lisa explains that that will be impossible, because the family are moving to Lithuania immediately. Oh, and she’s going to stay in Springfield, living with her grandfather.

They aren’t okay with this though, and invite this random girl they met a few days ago to just live with them. Lisa accepts. She just keeps piling on the lies, and decides to live with the family in the evening, after sneaking out of the Simpson’s house, and then returning bright and early in the morning. And, it works decently. She starts to get exhausted, but all of the sneaking around is exhilarating to her.

That is until one evening when she tries to sneak out she finds Marge waiting for her. Turns out Ned told Marge about the time Lisa pretended he was her father, and Marge started noticing something was going on. So, Lisa tells her parents the truth, and Marge is incredibly mad that Lisa is apparently this ashamed of them. And, as a form of punishment, she tells Lisa to invite the Monroe’s over to meet the real family, and tell them the truth.

From what I could tell, Lisa never does tell them the truth, but they do agree to come over for dinner. And, playing into Lisa’s insanity, Marge decides they need to class it up and make a good impression, meaning Homer is only allowed to say four sentences that she pre-wrote. And, it actually works out pretty well, keeping Homer from looking like a complete idiot.

However, by the end of the night Lisa decides to tell most of the truth to the Monroe’s. And, they seem basically fine with the bizarre series of lies that have been thrown their way. It does kind of kill the mood of the dinner though. That is until Bart reveals that while the entire episode has been ignoring him he’s turned his bedroom into some sort of swanky bachelor pad, and invites everyone up for cocktails, which fixes everything. Sure, fine.

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This episode bugged the shit out of me. I love Lisa Simpson, I’ve written quite a bit about how much I love her. And, Lisa episodes are often some of my favorite type of Simpsons episodes. But, there can often be a fine line that they have to walk, and they can easily teeter off that line and into a mindset like this episode. Lisa often thinks that she’s better than everyone else, but the best kind of episodes have her realize that that’s a shitty way of seeing things, and gaining new appreciation for the family. But, other times you get episodes like this, that never really have that realization, and just make Lisa an unlikable prick. I mean, every single thing Lisa does in this episode is aggravating. She lies nonstop, she demeans her family at every turn, and she just inserts herself into the life of a strange family like a goddamn sociopath. I mean, when Lisa just randomly let herself into a stranger’s house and everyone involved seemed cool with that, I realized that his episode was going off the rails. But I never could have guessed how far it would fly from the rails. Nothing in the episode makes any damn sense, Lisa is completely wretched, and it’s all for the weirdest reason. Because these Monroe’s are incredibly superficial. Like I said, I never even caught their goddamn names! They weren’t people, they were weird robots who liked things Lisa liked, and she immediately decides to throw her family away for them. And I hate that. That’s not Lisa Simpson. Her family may drive her crazy, but she still loves them, and she isn’t going to abandon them for a bunch of vague strangers.

 

Take Away: DON’T LET YOURSELF INTO STRANGER’S HOMES

 

“The Girl on the Bus” was written by Joel H Cohen and directed by Chris Clements, 2019.

 

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