Lifetime of Simpsons

S31 E06 – Marge the Lumberjill

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This season of the Simpsons hasn’t exactly been the best, but it also hasn’t been the worst. It’s a moot point at this point that the show really shouldn’t exist anymore, but at the very least it’s nice when they do something at least a little different. And, while this week isn’t exactly breaking any boundaries, it at least gives us something a tad out of the ordinary. Because we should always be up for episodes about Marge trying to find a new passion, even though those do tend to follow a formula pretty heavily.

The episode begins with Superintendent Chalmers and Principal Skinner welcoming a crowd to a special night of theater, all written and performed by the children. Which they insist will be terrible. And, for the most part it is. Milhouse and Ralph do a weird parody of Riverdale, which is insane, but honestly no more insane than I feel like that show really is. Then we see the bullies performing some sort of live reenactment of video game YouTube videos, but with a tremendously lower chance of racism.

But, there is one somewhat decent play, written by and starring Lisa. But, it’s also just a glimpse into her home life, with Homer and Bart being grunting monsters, and Marge the even-tempered source of stability. Which, weirdly isn’t something Marge wants to see. Everyone in the audience makes it clear that they find Marge to be boring, and it really starts to bother her. Eventually this reaches the point that she decides to spice up her life and be more interesting, but that only takes the form of her delivering a hammy reading of the Bible at church, which no one enjoys.

 

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The family then return home from church, while a rainstorm is happening. And, as they pull into the driveway a bolt of lightning hits a tree and drops a huge branch onto their driveway, freaking the family out. Homer then gets to do one of the joys of home ownership, and begins hacking up he tree with an ax. Which he promptly gives up on. And this spurs Marge on to start attacking the branch, chopping it to pieces so that she can vent all of her fury.

And, weirdly, she’s really good at it. To the point that Patty and Selma, who are there for some reason, decide that they should introduce Marge to a friend of theirs named Paula. Because Paula is in a professional timber-sports league, functioning as a lumberjill. And she’s very impressed by Marge’s raw talent, even going so far as to offering to train Marge. And, Marge decides to take her up on it, heading out to the woods to learn the basics of lumber-jacking, and realizing that she loves it.

They then go to some sort of timber-sports exposition, where Marge quickly starts to dominate. It’s all very strange, and I’m not exactly sure what’s going on, but Marge appears to win very quickly, and is some sort of lumberjill savant. Which, makes Homer very proud, until Patty comes up and ruins it. She lets Homer know that Paula is a lesbian, which instantly makes Homer think that she is trying to woo Marge and steal her away from him, especially because the two have forged a pretty quick friendship.

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And that feeling becomes much stronger when Paula suggests that Marge become her partner for a big lumberjill competition happening in Portland. Which would require Marge moving to Portland with Paula for a month. Homer is a little against it at first, attempting to woo Marge with romance to keep her, but it becomes clear that this is what she really wants, and he decides to try and be okay with it.

Marge then moves out to Portland for a month, until Homer and kids come out for the competition. Which gives them plenty of time to comment on the fact that all of the street names were used for characters names on the show. But, Homer decides that they should come a day early, hoping to catch Marge in some sort of indiscretion. And, while that certainly doesn’t happen, he is pretty shocked at how close Marge and Paula have become. They have essentially become an old married couple, incredibly invested in all the stereotypical Portland stuff.

This ends up causing Homer to freak out, telling Marge that he wants her to come home and give up on this whole thing. He tells her all of his fears, and Marge mocks him for being completely ridiculous, getting pissed at him and telling him that he’s being a moron and tells him that if they win the competition they’re going to move onto an even bigger training session, which will keep her away even longer. Which would be okay with Lisa, because she has been instantly enamored with Portland, even going so far as to making fun of the fact that she always does this.

The next day the family head to the timber-sports competition, which is sparsely attended to say the least. Which makes it much more sad when Marge and Paula start to do poorly. At which point Homer races down to the …field? He starts apologizing to Marge and supporting her, which helps her push herself to victory. At which point Homer approaches Paula, and concedes victory. But, obviously, Paula isn’t trying to steal Marge. She’s happily married, and just wanted a friend. So, to Homer’s joy, his marriage is intact, and with some advice from Paula he’s able to apologize and rekindle their romance.

 

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This episode is pretty strange. On the one hand, I enjoy episodes where Marge is allowed to have a passion, and even more so when she gets to be successful at that passion and not have something terrible happen to punish her. So often she finds a new interest, and then a nightmare ensues to make her regret trying new things. But, thankfully, that doesn’t end up being the case. Marge finds something that makes her happy and that she’s good at, albeit an incredibly weird thing, and she succeeds. But, there’s also the whole Homer fear thing, which is really weird. Homer being terrified that Marge has been “turned” gay and will be leaving him really feels like a plot that shouldn’t be in an episode from 2019. I don’t know why we can’t just have an episode about Marge succeeding without having to tarnish it with some stupid marital jealousy. But, at least the episode didn’t go down the most obvious path, as it joked about, by having this be yet another episode where Lisa finds the town of her dreams only to be rudely disavowed of that notion and going back to Springfield, perhaps the only solid joke in the whole episode.

 

“Marge the Lumberjill” was written by Ryan Koh and directed by Rob Oliver, 2019.

 

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