Episode 2 - A Streetcar Named Marge
23 February 2012
Synopsis: Marge auditions for a local production of a musical version of A Streetcar Named Desire. Homer is particularly insensitive about her efforts and her beaten-down psyche lands her the part of Blanche. Ned plays Stanley and Marge uses her real-life anger at Homer to fuel her performance. Meanwhile she has to put Maggie into a day care centre where her pacifier is taken away.
The Good: As a parody of both amateur theatre and Broadway musicals this is pretty good. It certainly shows the creative team stretching themselves and succeeding at something new.
Jon Lovitz returns to play a similar stereotypical mentor to Marge (218) and once more it is a good choice. He is given all the alcoholic-over-dramatic-judgmental-arrogant characteristics that a director could need and his voice is more than up to it. There's more obvious comedy in putting Marge's croaky voice to the task of singing along with Chief Wiggum and Apu amongst others. The creation of actual songs to fit A Streetcar Named Desire was clever and what we saw of the stage production was too. The linking of Homer's insensitivity to the Blanche-Stanley relationship was a solid idea to build the plot around. I did enjoy Homer including "the whole lamas thing" on his list of Marge's "kooky projects."
The Maggie subplot was of course ridiculous but very cute. The parody of The Great Escape was fun and securing the rights to the correct music made it work.
The Bad: Though did we need a parody of The Birds as well? Wasn't this episode already rich enough in outside influences?
Time hasn't been kind to this episode. Every animated show, not to mention many a non-animated one has musical numbers now and so the freshness of this approach has been lost. What is left is a story where Homer is set up as an ass and doesn't really do anything to arrest his poor treatment of Marge.
Best Joke: However for its time the musical numbers were excellent. This line of lyrics is the best example of the quality as the writers parody Sweeny Todd with their description of New Orleans "If you want to go to hell you should take a trip to the Sodom and Gomorrah on the Missisip."
The Bottom Line: It's difficult to assess this episode now because at the time it had a much stronger impact. For our purposes this is an important step in the expansion of the ambitions of the creative team. This is one of the first long musical numbers they wrote for the show and the witty lyrics show promise.
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