The tail end of Season 30 of the Simpsons has been absolutely awash with episodes that have revolved around a very specific cultural reference, which just so happens to be several years out of date. I don’t know what would be, perhaps because this show has gone on for 30 years and they’ve run out of storylines that don’t rely on topic references, but whatever the reason, it makes watching the episodes feel kind of strange, because they’re starting to feel like they’ve come from a time machine. Speaking of which, let’s travel back to early 2016 and talk about a Hamilton episode.
The episode begins with a line of hillbillies standing outside of a small local theater, awaiting their chance to audition in an open call for a new community theater production of Oklahoma. But, they’re apparently just filling out some minor roles, because the principal cast has already been cast, and are getting ready to get the show on the road, under the strong direction of Llewellyn Sinclair.
Which obviously means that this show is going to be a trainwreck. Sinclair is being his usual diva self, and making life hell for his leads, especially Marge. And that’s a shame, because Marge actually seems to be excited for this project, and is throwing herself fully into her role. She even goes the extra mile to take care of the other actors, teaching them how to read scripts and generally becoming the acting director while Sinclair is busy being dramatic.
Meanwhile, Homer is apparently in charge of Maggie while Marge is busy with the musical, and is driving around town looking for something for the two of them to do. And, while driving he notices a long line of men with their toddlers, waiting to go into some sort of daycare facility. So, he joins the line, assuming that it’s going to be something great. And, it turns out that it’s just a daddy/baby class taught by a sexy lady that’s heavily attended so the creepy dads can just ogle her. Yikes. And, Homer is very much on board, apparently having no qualms with getting all horny with his infant daughter.
Future therapy discussions aside, we jump back to Marge, who is having trouble with Sinclair once it actually becomes time to start rehearsing the musical. Primarily because Sinclair has a huge hissy fit when he sees how low rent the sets are, which gets to the point that the actors decide to mutiny and kick him off the project. Which, leaves them directorless. Until Marge offers to take charge, which everyone agrees to since she actually seems to know what she’s doing.
Unfortunately, she doesn’t really know, so she starts doing research on directing live theater, and quickly comes to the conclusion that Oklahoma is way too complicated a show for her to tackle as her first play. She wants a more minimalist show to do first, and for some reason that sparks her and Lisa to decide that they should rip off Hamilton and make a rap-musical about Jebediah Springfield. Because being a first time director isn’t stressful enough, apparently.
Lisa then gets to work researching Springfield, and seems to turn in a finished musical in days, giving Marge the chance to reveal the new direction to the rest of the troupe. And, they’re down with it. Everyone is eager to give it a chance, and Marge makes Sideshow Mel the lead as Jebediah himself. Which, ends up complicating things, because while Mel is practicing his lines at work on day Krusty overhears him, and becomes interested. So, seeing a chance to get in on the ground floor with a new Broadway smash, Krusty approaches Marge to work with her.
And, thanks to Krusty’s investment, Marge’s show is now going to have a live televised debut, where it will be recorded for posterity. Which means that this suddenly became a much bigger project than she’d initially anticipated. But, they roll with it preproduction begins, hoping to make the most out of their tight schedule. Unfortunately, just as Marge is getting her head around everything, a monkey wrench is thrown into the works. Because Mel stops by the house one night to tell her that he’s dropping out for a chance to play Prospero, which may or may not be revenge from Llewellyn Sinclair? I don’t know, he shows up to taunt Marge, but that may have just been a weird joke.
But, before we see how Marge deals with recasting her lead days away from opening night, we need to finish off the weird vestigial Homer plot. Because he’s apparently been taking Maggie to those classes for weeks, ogling this Chloe woman, until one day she announces one of the dads is marrying her, so she’s ending the class. Homer is bummed, but it turns out that Maggie has been enjoying all the time together so they decide to keep hanging out and having father/daughter time that doesn’t involve nursery rhyme sex dreams.
Anyway, Marge finds herself in the position to begin desperately auditioning new leads for her Springfield musical, and it looks like things are going to get pretty dire. Everyone who shows up is terrible, and it looks like it’s all about to fall apart. But, right as they’re about to give up, Professor Frink reveals himself to have a beautiful singing voice. And, because he’s been working tech on the show the whole time, he’s learned all of the lyrics, and is ready to become their Jebediah.
The day of the show then arrives, and they’re going to be putting the production on outside in the town square. But, it looks like it’s going to rain during the show, causing Krusty to recommend they just cancel it anyway. But, Marge is deadset on seeing this thing through to fruition, and they just go for it, playing through the rain. And, when it gets upgraded to a flashflood they just rapidly change some lyrics to explain why they’re all on boats now. And, despite all of the problems, it’s apparently a hell of a show. People love it, it gets massive ratings, and Marge even wins some sort of local theater award for most promising newcomer, having pulled off an original production where everything that could have gone wrong for her did.
By and large I think that this episode isn’t bad. I’ve talked at length before about the fact that most stories about Marge feature her failing at everything. Whenever she tries to get a job or something, it always ends with everything crashing down around her, and serves as some grim reminder that she should just stay in her lane and never try. But, this episode doesn’t go down that terrible path. Instead, Marge excels. She finds something that she’s passionate about, and something that’s been well defined in past episodes to boot, and she knocks it out of the park. Yeah, lots of things go wrong over the course of her producing this show, but she handles it all with aplomb, and it all works out for her. It’s a little ridiculous, especially when she’s putting on a live production on boats in a rapidly flooding town square, but it was just a nice change of pace to see an episode where Marge actually succeeds at something she puts her mind to. It was nice. Yeah, the whole idea of this episode revolving around Hamilton, a legitimately great show, but one that has maybe faded in the public consciousness a bit does bring up the show’s increasing cultural irrelevancy, but at its heart it’s a nice story. I don’t know why they felt the need to reference something so specific that so dates the episode, but the story at the core of this episode works, and that’s frankly cause for celebration at this point.
Take Away: Never give up on your dreams. And, don’t get horny around your children?
“I”m Just a Girl Who Can’t Say D’oh” was written by Jeff Martin and Jenna Martin, directed by Michael Polcino, 2019.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons