The premise: Nine years into the future, 17-year-old Lisa suddenly decides she doesn’t want to go to college, unsure of what she wants out of her life. This infuriates Marge, who was riding her entire hopes and dreams through her daughter, causing a massive rift between the two that would last for decades.
The reaction: The novelty of these future shows really start to run on empty when you’re going on your eighth one. I honestly don’t remember anything about the last one, which was also focused on Lisa, but this episode feels a bit discouraging because it actually touches on a promising premise: after grade-grubbing and spending her entire childhood studying, Lisa has an internal crisis about what her life is going to be. However, as it’s introduced in the episode, it’s difficult to follow. Lisa complains about how college costs a fortune now (now?) and won’t lead to any jobs, and separately laments about how she missed out on doing anything fun as a kid. These feel like two separate issues: Lisa’s future career prospects vs. actually having fun in life/having friends and relationships. Before she expresses her crisis, she had just rebuffed a promposal from Milhouse, but it’s not like it was specifically triggered by that, but I thought there would be something about how Lisa is crestfallen how she’s made no friends or had no romantic partners through school and regrets it. But hey, you know where you can start over and have a rich social life? College. Anyway, Lisa has gotten into every school and Marge is waiting with bated breath as to which she’ll pick. When Lisa announces she’s not going to college, Marge is pissed, outright telling her daughter she’s rested all her abandoned hopes and dreams on her so you better fucking pick a college, you sniveling ingrate. In three different interactions, Marge comes at Lisa hard about how much she’s sacrificed for her so pick a damn school, rather than, y’know, ask why her daughter feels this way and what’s going on. There’s been plenty (way too many) recent episodes featuring Marge being an irrational bitch toward Lisa, which always feels so incredibly distasteful. Marge is an eternally loving and understanding mother, so seeing her act this way is bizarre to see. So Lisa doesn’t know what to do next, which is fine, but the episode feels like it’s fumbling its way into finding a point. Lisa gets a food service job, and after an interaction with a dullard kid customer, gets the inspiration to start an after-school program to help underprivileged kids. Hey, do you know what might help you get that started? An education degree. We quickly flash forward and see that Lisa’s teachings (Knowledge Minus College) leads to great success, with dozens of schools opening nationwide, with Lisa later becoming superintendent, governor, and finally President. We barely get a scene out of Lisa’s classroom, where she teaches Shakespeare using dances from TikTok, so I really have no idea what I’m supposed to latch onto. Over halfway through the episode, Lisa’s existential ennui is finally solved, she’s interested in education, and then after one minute of screen time, we move through decades into the future, and then it becomes about Lisa and Marge finally making up, with Marge apparently a completely senile old person who didn’t even know her daughter was elected President and still insists she was right that she should have gone to college. The conflict between the two is so completely empty and meaningless that they don’t even make up directly, thanks to a great joke involving a “Mom translator” who “interprets” Marge and Lisa’s remarks back at each other until they hug and that’s the end. This one was a real stinker. It honestly feels like they wanted to do an episode featuring President Lisa after Trump was elected because of the reference in “Bart to the Future” (who is referenced to without naming him as Lisa’s new aide tells her, “Just after you were sworn in, your predecessor finally conceded,”) and then they worked backwards to actually come up with a plot. Maybe they should have worked harder and actually written one.
Three items of note:
– The wrap-around features this future vision being told by magician shop owner Werner Herzog and his mystical tarot cards (hey, remember “Lisa’s Wedding”?) Herzog appeared in an episode last season (or two seasons, I forget), and I gotta say, I have a little difficulty understanding his voice, especially when he’s trying to work his way through some labored joke dialogue.
– There’s been so many future episodes that nothing in these shows really feels fresh anymore. 3D printed pancakes, floating tablets, an antiquated Fruit Ninja reference, the college drones (which I think was in the last future episode), none of it feels like anything new. We see muscular teenage Milhouse, who has shown up before, as well as the ending with Bart and Lisa getting high and having a heart-to-heart on the White House roof, which very much feels lifted from when they got drunk in the treehouse in “Holidays of Future Passed.” We also need to give some kind of excuse for why Maggie doesn’t talk, so they have her communicate through emoticons or something. Why the fuck not just have her talk? At least it would be something different.
– Nate Silver voices himself to smugly poke fun at how absolutely incompetent and shameless he is as a political commentator and it made my skin crawl just a bit. Worst guest appearance since Chrissy Teigen.