Last week we got to talk about something that’s become increasingly rare on Lifetime of Simpsons. An episode that actually seems to have been written this year. But, there was no hope thinking that last week’s episode was going to be some sort of sea change for the show. Get ready for a very timely Whiplash parody, folks.
The episode begins with a sweeping journey through Springfield before ending up at some sort of Springfield Academy of Music, where the class of 1999 is getting ready to graduate. And, among them is Dewey Largo, the future band teacher at Springfield Elementary. And, it turns out that Largo is given some fancy baton, signifying that he’s a brilliant conductor with a bright future.
However, as we all know, that didn’t work out of him. It turns out that this was a memory Largo was living through during a nightmare, and he eventually wakes up and is put back into his depressing reality, snipping back and forth with his partner, who appears to be Ian McKellen? I don’t know, but Mr. Largo then heads off to the Elementary School where he gets ready to teach music to a bunch of brats.
But, while conducting the school band he gets an email from the Capital City Philharmonic, from a conductor named Victor Kleskov, who wants to come to the band’s upcoming recital in order to potentially poach him. And, just like that, Largo gives a shit. He announces that their recital is going to be amazing, and starts teaching the kids harder than he’s ever taught before, getting them into shape.
We then cut to the school recital, where all of the parents are legitimately shocked with how well the kids are doing. People love it and they end up getting a standing ovation, making Largo think he’s nailed it. Unfortunately, after the show Kleskov shows up backstage and informs Largo that it wasn’t him he was scouting, it was Lisa. So, while Largo’s heart breaks, Kleskov informs Lisa that she’s invited to join a children’s philharmonic.
Lisa is thrilled by the news, and on the car-ride back starts telling the family about how she wants to go with it. But, it’s 30 miles away, and would require Marge to drive every day with Bart and Maggie, because they can’t afford a babysitter. But, they decide they owe it to Lisa, so Homer starts working double-shifts, and Marge starts carting the kids around, trying to make Lisa’s dream a reality.
So, Marge begins driving Lisa to Capital City, fighting traffic and then awkwardly sitting around while Lisa gets ready for her new band. And, immediately we realize that this is a Whiplash thing. The kids are all intense and terrified, and Kleskov starts berating Lisa and the other kids giving her a trial by fire immediately. But, when the class is over Lisa comes out and tells Marge that it was intense, but she loved the abuse. So, they’re going to keep it going.
But, while Lisa is loving it, the rest of the family are suffering. Homer is having to work constantly, and the night-shift is very strange, full of bad coffee, Gil, and no lights. Bart hates it because he’s forced to sit with the other siblings, who are all sad and pathetic. And Marge is starting to drive in her sleep. Plus, Bart’s starting to feel worried that his feelings and thoughts don’t matter to the family as much as Lisa’s do.
Lisa does start to notice that the rest of her family are going insane, but she decides that it’s worth it for her to keep playing her music. Especially because she’s actually doing great, getting better and better. But, one day Kleskov tells her that because she has a birthday coming up, she’s going to have to audition again to join the next level of the philharmonic. But, it’s even more expensive, and it’s even further away. But, Lisa thinks she can spin it to her family.
However, it’s clear that things are not going well for the rest of the family. Bart is becoming king of the siblings, teaching them that they need to start misbehaving in order to earn their parent’s love. Marge and Maggie are becoming incredibly belligerent, getting angrier and angrier. And Homer is drifting around like a zombie at the Plant, having hallucinations about dancing with radiation suits, and vising the bar from the Shining. He even gets to talk to Lloyd, who recommends Homer kill his family with plutonium. Luckily, Mr. Burns and Smithers happens to be lurking around and keep Homer from killing himself by walking into the core.
The family decide to support Lisa though, and they accompany her to the audition to the next level of the philharmonic. And, when she starts to perform, she finds that she’s actually doing great. She’s nailing it, but she starts to get worried that it’s not worth it. Lisa is concerned that the family is going to start hating her, and she just so happens to look outside of the window to see the family sadly sitting around, bored and exhausted. So, Lisa decides to do the right thing, and purposefully plays a wrong note, getting kicked out of the philharmonic. She then goes home with the family, who seem to realize what she did for them, and they all make peace.
I don’t know, this episode is fine I guess. But, much like the episode we talked about a couple weeks ago with Bart’s gaming, I find myself in the unfortunate position where I’m irritated with Lisa, something I never appreciate. This episode kind of puts Lisa in the villain’s position, especially when she starts to realize that her passion is killing the rest of the family, and just decides that that’s acceptable losses. But, it’s kind of a complicated thing, because it also means that Lisa is forgoing her passion in order to help her family. It’s all just kind of a bummer folks. The episode ends in what seems like a sweet manner, with the family being happy together, but it’s kind of implicit that Lisa is giving up on her talent, at least for the present, and they keep insisting that they won’t foster Maggie’s talents. Which sucks. And, it doesn’t help that this bummer of a premise is all couched in a weird Whiplash parody. And, to make it even stranger, they get JK Simmons to do the voice for Kleskov. It’s all just super strange, especially in 2019, and it all just comes together to create an episode that I just kind of felt confused by, and then moved on with. I just want to have fun with this show, folks. Maybe Season 31!
Take Away: Always follow your passion, unless it inconveniences someone.
“Girl’s in the Band” was written by Nancy Cartright and directed by Jennifer Moeller, 2019.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons