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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-???


Episode 2 - Mr Lisa Goes to Washington

21 July 2016

Synopsis: Homer gets hooked on Reading Digest and discovers an essay contest which Lisa enters. The young entrants are encouraged to write patriotic pieces and Lisa wins her family a trip to Washington for the finals. Once there she witnesses a corrupt Congressman and delivers a very different essay decrying the state of politics.

The Good: The way Lisa encounters corruption is interesting and allows for some moments of genuine satirical enquiry. The sight of children all trying to outdo one another with nauseatingly patriotic essays is pretty clever. Between that and the ignorant reactions of Homer, Barney and Moe to politics paints a picture of a far from informed public allowing politicians to slide into disrepute. Other satirical digs saw Homer taking Lisa to see the "Veterans of Popular Wars" and protestors outside the White House holding placards reading "No complaints here" and "No opinion."

The Bad: However the ending rather squashes all the good work up to that point. "The system works!" Lisa cries after the Congressman is caught and kicked out within the day. The show even fatuously throws in President Bush referring to the people as his boss. It's the kind of sycophantic acceptance of the system which the rest of the episode had worked hard to question.

Eight year old Lisa wouldn't really have been allowed to wander around Washington unescorted. Nor was the gag about the Jefferson statue talking back to her really explained.

The episode was also fairly dull in places. Homer's love of Reading Digest was thoroughly established and the show took a similar attitude to the family enjoying the luxuries of a hotel. While neither part of the story was bad, they didn't serve a larger purpose or deliver many laughs.

On a smaller note, the Congressman is caught by an FBI sting who ask him whether they can drill for oil in Mount Rushmore. The show has conspicuously not admitted which state the fictional Springfield resides in. So this joke would have to place them in South Dakota which future episodes make it clear they are not in.

Best Joke: Homer meets the lady representative from Reading Digest and tells her "I love your magazine! My favourite section is 'How To Increase Your Word Power.' That thing is really really really good."

The Bottom Line: You can see the satirical writing beginning to break through but this episode was poorly structured.



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