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The Simpsons

The Simpsons is an animated comedy about a family in the fictional town of Springfield. The family is made up of selfish father Homer, fretting mother Marge, precocious daughter Lisa, rebellious son Bart and silent daughter Maggie. FOX 1989-???

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Episode 6 - Moaning Lisa

27 March 2012

Synopsis: Lisa is facing an existential crisis, feeling sad and seeing her creativity squashed. She is inspired by “Bleeding Gums” Murphy, a local saxophone player who helps cheer her up. Meanwhile Bart keeps defeating Homer at a Boxing video game. So Homer seeks advice on how to get better.

The Good: This episode shows quite a bit of emotional depth. It shows that The Simpsons are no mere caricatures but well rounded creations. The way Bart and Lisa’s behaviour brings out issues which Homer and Marge have is an eminently plausible way for the plot to develop.

This is the first episode to focus on Lisa and she seems stifled by her small town life. Her intelligence and sensitivity also make her question the meaning of life. Perhaps the best part of her story is that there was no one underlying reason for her malaise. She was just generally sad and in the end her problem wasn’t “solved.” She simply received affection and affirmation from Marge and found inspiration in the music of “Bleeding Gums” Murphy.

Marge’s own repressed childhood turmoil was a nice glimpse into her inner conflicts. We can see the roots of her ability to put up with the stress of being a wife and mother. But she doesn’t allow her own repression to be passed on to her daughter. It’s actually a much more traditional TV story than The Simpsons has so far been showcasing. But the moral of the story is so firmly in the right place that it doesn’t seem odd.

Homer also manages to make a connection to his own childhood. He links Bart defeating him at a video game to his own feelings of getting old and those he had when he began to surpass his own father. It certainly makes their story more interesting and the Simpson men do have to carry the jokes for the episode (see Best Joke). We get a nice glimpse into Homer’s bizarre logic too, which will of course become increasingly prevalent in the future. With Lisa in turmoil, Homer says “Bart! Vacuum this floor.” Bart protests as he hasn’t done anything wrong. “In times of trouble you gotta go with what you know” is his rationalisation.

The Bad: Lisa out on her own at night, without permission, talking to a strange man should probably have been a bigger deal.

Best Joke: As Homer and Bart prepare to play their Boxing video game, Bart makes long introductions. “In the red trunks with a record of 48 wins and no losses (himself)…and in the lavender trunks (Homer) with a record of 0 wins and 48 defeats, oh correction, humiliating defeats, all of them by knockout…” Homer says irritated “Must you do this every time?” The idea of Bart actually doing this for 48 games straight is pretty funny.

The Bottom Line: A showcase of the characterisation that the show is capable of. Otherwise it’s probably a bit slow for most people’s tastes.

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