All’s Fair in Oven War
Couch gag: The Simpsons and their couch are launched from a trebuchet
Director: Mark Kirkland
Thomas Pynchon as himself
James Caan as himself
Synopsis: Marge enters a home cooking competition and cheats her way into the finals. Meanwhile, Bart and Milhouse find some girly magazines and transform the treehouse into a bachelor’s hangout for their friends.
Discussion: Moral dilemmas always work well in The Simpsons, and this episode is no exception. Feeling unworthy, Marge sabotages the other entrants in a cooking competition and Lisa disapproves. What happens between these characters is typical of a real life family situation, and in this case it’s Lisa pulling the guilt trip with a devastatingly cute card which compels Marge to do the right thing. You know it’s going to happen, it’s a narrative convention and it works well in sitcoms.
The B plot is also very interesting and, at times, threatens to overthrow Marge’s A plot. During the remodelling of the kitchen, Homer finds some old Playdude mags, Marge cuts out all the nude women and Bart finds the discarded magazines and does what every male pretends to do: reads the articles. From these 1970s magazines, Bart and Milhouse form an idea of what’s cool and set about to transform their treehouse into a rockin’ party pad, similar to Hef’s Playboy Mansion. Of course, it all goes pear-shaped when Homer gives the “facts of life” speech to Bart… with hilarious results.
It’s an above average episode, but only just. Marge’s plot seems a little forced at times, but there’s enough to hold interest for the entire 20 minutes. It’s well worth a look just for Bart’s B plot.