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Lisa Simpson, This Isn’t Your Life

Couch gag: Lance Murdoch jumps over the couch and crashes into a wall.

Director: Matthew Nastuk

Synopsis: After discovering that Marge was a good student until she met Homer, Lisa vows not to let any distractions get in her way. Meanwhile, Bart inadvertently becomes the school bully when a series of coincidences force Nelson to be humiliated.

Discussion: Lisa has ambition to change the world for the better, and feels that being a housewife is wasting one’s talents, more or less. Although she loves her mother and deeply respects her, it’s not a life Lisa wishes to forge for herself. It’s something we all think about as children; our world is coloured by what our parents do and the roles they plan for us. For Lisa to go against that is courageous.

However, I question whether this is really a Simpsons plot? It seems like it would be more at home in say, Everybody Loves Raymond. Lisa has always been proud of her intelligence and ambition for something more, and I wonder why she suddenly got so rattled in seeing Marge’s grades dropping.

Bart’s subplot of becoming known as a bully doesn’t hold much ground. It’s a good idea, but executed poorly; I was waiting for something bigger to happen and it never did. It seems only Nelson took any notice, the other bullies just went on their merry way, completely ignoring Bart. What if all the bullies ganged up on Bart and he made them feel good about themselves?

The most amusing part of this episode was Lisa finding a seven of clubs in her lunch bag and Homer walking past with a “Ta da!” I also liked the opening scene where Homer is trying to win Maggie’s missing elf doll from her collection. I like that he didn’t succeed because it led to Maggie substituting other toys to complete the collection, but at the same time the story could have taken a slightly different turn in Maggie had gotten the doll.

Overall, I think the episode was good but not great. The emotion between Marge and Lisa was overwrought at times, which isn’t a hallmark of the series, and I thought Lisa dismissing her mother’s work as “not for her” was philosophically self-evident; she’s been ambitious for a while now.

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