(originally aired October 15, 1995)
Wise beyond her years, Lisa has an incredibly ethically and socially conscious mind; it’s easy to turn her into a mouthpiece for adult issues, but one must always remember she’s still a young child. Here, we see her adopt a new cause, but ends up composing herself in a slightly immature way, only to butt heads with an equally immature father. The cause, if you couldn’t decipher from the title, is vegetarianism. Following a trip to a petting zoo, Lisa finds she can’t bring herself to eat a lamb chop after having bonded with an adorable little sheep earlier. Homer is absolute aghast, not so much incensed, but just completely befuddled at the concept that someone can not eat meat. He meanwhile in a misguided attempt to one-up Flanders’ family reunion barbeque decides to old one of his own, so the stage is set for Lisa to be alienated for her beliefs in her own home.
It really does suck to be Lisa sometimes, stuck in a town full of small-minded, easily manipulated citizens. Her protests against dissecting worms and for vegetarian options at the cafeteria are met with hostility, and eventually an attempted ceasing through an educational film, the classic Troy McClure reel “The Meat Council Presents: Meat and You: Partners in Freedom.” It, of course, is staunchly pro-meat. Soon the day of the big barbeque arrives, and Lisa’s attempts to introduce an option of gazpacho are met with derisive laughter (yet another instance where grown adults laugh mockingly or boo young children. What’s with this town?) Eventually, Lisa snaps and carts out Homer’s piece de resistance, a whole suckling pig, sending it down a steep hill, which through a series of events ends up launched far across town. It’s here that Homer and Lisa’s childish feud begins; while Homer being infantile is nothing new, Lisa’s actions are just as low, acting incredibly abrasive toward her father just because he eats meat. She ends up leaving the house in a huff.
In an entirely carnivore-centered world, Lisa seems to not have a chance. But at her wit’s end, she discovers that Apu is a vegetarian too, who takes her to his peaceful meditation garden on the roof of the Kwik-E-Mart. There, along with special guests Paul and Linda McCartney, Lisa learns that she needs to be tolerant of other people’s beliefs, and that there are better ways to influence people than to just be belligerent. Now, two things about the McCartneys. One, their colored irises creep me out. The show should never do that. Two, they are pretty unnecessary guest stars. It makes more sense that Lisa confide in some she know, and Apu’s the one who gives the message; the McCartneys are just kind of there, though I like the fake-out where Paul asks Lisa if she wants to hear a song, then Apu starts playing “Sgt. Pepper’s.” We end with a reconciliation between Homer and Lisa, ending with a piggyback… err, veggie-back ride. Kinda reminiscent of “Lisa’s Pony;” that episode was awesome, and so was this one.
Tidbits and Quotes
– Storytown Village (Fun for Ages 1 to 7 1/2) is a great set piece, with traditionally crappy animatronics (like “Radio Bart”), Grampa sleeping in Baby Bear’s bed (“Well, I’m sorry but it was 150 degrees in the car!”) and the three increasingly more adorable sheep (the second sheep attempts to get some more love, but Homer shoves him out of the way). Also, Lisa fawning over the little baby lamb is adorable, great performance by Yeardley Smith.
– Here’s a perfect Simpsons joke: Seeing Lisa with the lamb, Marge asserts that it was a good idea to come to the petting zoo after all. Then the gruff voice comes over the loudspeaker (“Attention familes. This is Mother Goose. The following cars have been broken into…”) Now, you know the Simpson car was one of them, so there’s no need to even dwell on it. We immediately cut to them pulling into their driveway, the back window completely smashed. You get your laughs as the episode continues forward.
– The Flanders family reunion, with all of Ned’s relatives looking and acting like him, is a tad disturbing, but funny of course, especially his English relation Lord Thistlewick Flanders, who adapts Flanders-isms begrudgingly (“Charmed… eh, a googily doogily.”)
– Homer is aghast that Lisa won’t eat any more animals? No bacon? Ham? Pork chops? Lisa informs him that’s all the same animal. Homer is incredulous (“Yeah, right Lisa. A wonderful, maaaaagical animal.”) I also like Bart’s teasing (“I think Lisa’s right, Dad. Eating meat is baaaaaad.”)
– Oh God… I love the independent thought alarms, triggered by Miss Hoover and Lunchlady Doris. Skinner is perturbed at two outbursts in one day, and instructs Willie to remove the colored chalk from every classroom. Willie says he had it coming (“I warned ya! Didn’t I warn ya?! That colored chalk was forged by Lucifer himself!”)
– Great Itchy & Scratchy cartoon: at a fancy restaurant, Itchy serves Scratchy his own bloated stomach. He cuts off a piece and eats, only for it to come out his stomach. He repeatedly eats the same piece, then Itchy comes over with the bill, which causes Scratchy’s head to explode. I love the small detail that Itchy boxes up the one repeatedly eaten piece for Scratchy before giving him the bill. Bart’s laughing, but Lisa isn’t; she’s come to a shocking discovery: “I never realized before, but some Itchy & Scratchy cartoons send the message that violence against animals is funny.”
– Homer’s barbeque invitation, shaped like a pig, is great: “Come to Homer’s BBBQ. The extra B is for BYOBB.” (“What’s the extra ‘B’ for?” “That’s a typo.”)
– Skinner introduces the pro-meat film (“So, in the interest in creating an open dialogue, sit silently and watch this film.”) This has got to be one of the best Troy McClure films: the number of classic bits and lines in it are so high. Troy sliping his finger over the cow’s back and licking it, explaining the killing floor not actually being a floor, the traumatized little Jimmy, the cut-off scientist consultation, the food chain (with all animals leading to be eaten by humans) and the stock footage of animals eating other animals (culminating in a shark pulling down a gorilla into the water), and the dramatic look into a cow’s dead eyes (“If a cow ever got the chance, he’d eat you and everyone you care about!”) Lisa is utterly offended by the film (“They can’t seriously expect us to swallow that tripe!”) Immediately followed by Skinner following up: “Now as a special treat courtesy of our friends at the Meat Council, please help yourself to this tripe.” The kids of course all chow down.
– Good callback joke to “Treehouse of Horror” where Homer uses an entire can of lighter fluid and then some on his grill, then hits the gas… and a normal flame comes up.
– I like how, really, Lisa was ultimately in the wrong for what she did; Homer’s barbeque was going great and he was proud, and then she disposed of the pig. But of course Homer’s immature nature takes over and both are equally reprehensible, with the great breakfast back-and-forth where they avoid having to talk to each other directly.
– The ending really is sweet. I especially like Lisa’s low-key “Hi dad. Looking for me?” Followed by Homer’s quick nonchalant turn “I dunno. You looking for me?” Homer apologizes, not even knowing why, and is shocked to hear Lisa was wrong… too. Lisa still stands by her beliefs, but apologizes to her father for what she did. Homer of course accepts (“I understand honey. I used to believe in things when I was a kid.”)
– The one great thing about the McCartneys being on the show is having “Maybe I’m Amazed” over the credits, with a subliminal message played backwards: a recipe for a “really ripping” lentil soup.