247. It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marge

(originally aired May 14, 2000)
Marge episodes must be so very hard to write. Even in its classic days, the series seemed to struggle a bit with handling the character; that being said, what chance does the show have now with it? Last season we had the ridiculous road rage episode, which was pretty lame, but at least premise-wise had a somewhat workable idea in its head. This episode, I don’t know what they were thinking. Marge’s jealousy turns into insane rage, turning into possible insanity? If it were written perfectly with no plot holes or flimsy characterization it would be a stretch, but here, this shit just don’t make no sense. But first let’s clear through some other business. We open with Otto proposing to his girlfriend Becky, and thanks to Bart’s generous nature (and tendency to not ask permission), the wedding is held at the Simpson house. Now, Otto has never been the most developed or dynamic character. “The Otto Show” displayed his limited range, but still gave somewhat of a deeper insight into our favorite lowlife bus driver. Here he feels so one-note. He proposes to his girlfriend in the bus, drives to and from the wedding in the bus, why does he drive the bus everywhere? Rather than expand out characters, later seasons would relegate them into their little boxes to be further caricatured. Otto is the heavy-metal loving bus driver, nothing more and nothing less. Until standards and practices lessened up and they could get away with more drug references. SO EDGY.

When Otto calls off the wedding, Becky lives with the Simpsons. For some reason. She really had nowhere else to go? I guess she was living with Otto, but he wouldn’t let her stay? And Marge “breaking them up” didn’t make any sense. I’m all over the map here… The point is that explaining why Becky had no home would have shed some light on the situation and developed her as a character more. Perhaps Marge would have taken pity on her and let her stay, then later regretted it when she found how much she was stepping on her turf. Instead she’s bulldozed by the rest of the family as usual and grows more and more displeased by Becky’s presence each day. A visit to Patty and Selma puts it in her head that Becky intends on killing her and stealing her family away. And Marge believes it. This is just bonkers. Even when Marge acknowledges her sisters are pulling their information from fictional sensationalist movies, she still becomes paranoid about Becky wanting to off her and sleep with her husband. Okay, maybe it could have worked. And that’s a big maybe, but if you lay enough track down for your plot, I can buy it. A big problem in these later seasons is that events happen with barely any or no set-up. Patty and Selma plant the idea in Marge’s head, her brakes get mysteriously cut, and then next thing you know she’s manically attacking Becky with a jagged ice cream cone. That scene is cringe-worthy, like what am I watching here?

Act three is absolute garbage. Marge is put on trial and deemed insane, for no reason whatsoever, and proceeds to escape, triggering a manhunt. How do the rest of the Simpsons react? They appear worried at first, but none of them seem to concerned about it. They spend most of the act sitting on the couch in front of the TV. Shouldn’t they be out trying to find and help their wife/mother? And how long is this hunt going on? It seemed to be no longer than a day, but seems long enough to hit the local news, for Krusty to make a sketch out of it, and for Bart and Homer to talk about how she’s become a local schoolyard legend. None of this shit adds up. And nothing happens in the third act besides Marge finding out Becky was innocent. Or maybe she wasn’t, as Becky reveals that she actually did intend to kill Marge the whole time but got hung up on what kind of shovel to buy. So Marge vocally says because of this, she’s not crazy, and everything turned out okay. It’s maybe not as egregious, but I say this episode is to Marge as “Monty Can’t Buy Me Love” was to Mr. Burns; if this is the best they could come up with as a story for her, maybe it’s time to pack it in.

Tidbits and Quotes
– They make a joke about it, sure, but Springfield Elementary is poorer than poor, and yet they could get a camera to each student.
– Nice joke that Otto’s wedding invitations are done out on rolling paper.
– I guess we’re at the point where “Homer does stupid shit for no discernible reason” is fair game, as we see Homer at the kitchen table stabbing his hand with a knife repeatedly. Your guess is as good as mine as to what the fuck that’s about.
– Marge should not be such a wet blanket in this episode. She folds so quickly regarding holding the wedding and then letting Becky stay with them that you don’t feel sorry for her as much as you are annoyed that she’s taking so much shit laying down. Also her meddling with Becky’s affairs seems so wrong for her to do. And thinking Homer is the perfect husband just to set up an awful joke where Homer gets part of his tongue ripped off onto an ice sculpture? …wow, this episode is terrible.
– Becky walks down the completely open aisle. When she unplugs the power, big long electrical chord going across the threshold. I know it seems like I’m nitpicking, but at this point I’m half paying attention to these episodes and I’m still noticing these overt animation errors. Are the people making this show test screening these at all?
– More just shoving characters in scenes. What’s Moe doing at Otto’s wedding? Barney? Grampa and Jasper?
– How the fuck did Homer get the car lifted up on that wicker basket?
– More needless and boring suspense with Marge not being able to brake. Even though they threw in some lame jokes, it still felt so vacuous since you know Becky didn’t do it and also you don’t care.
– The end of the second act is fucking terrible, but it’s got two great bits in it. First the employees being paralyzed by getting eyes full of sprinkles (“I can only see a horrible rainbow!”) And also the line “I know where you live! My house!” I’ve used multiple times with my roommates.
– Wiggum teaching his son to kill people, Homer and Bart seeming to not give two shits Marge is in danger and needs help, the obvious and easy newspaper headline jokes… it’s like I’m watching a totally different show. And I am. I read a great article on the show’s downfall years back, I’d credit it if I could remember it. It said something along the lines of that the classic years would end an episode by having Homer bike off into the sunset with the love of his life, and a later episode ends by having him shoot a tranquilizer dart into her neck. I don’t think there’s much more than needs to be said, do you?
– …one more thing. What the fuck is with the living room being transformed into a gothic dungeon? With cobbled walls and everything? Let’s say that was like some wallpaper, and they got together some working torches, a cutting table and straps, cobwebs, chains, a big cage, all this junk was just lying around somewhere. Even with all of that, what are they doing? Marge is missing and they’re doing this elaborate shoot for Bart’s stupid fucking video? Man, fuck this show. How many seasons I got left?

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13 responses to “247. It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marge

  1. Homer was playing that knife game that people play to look tough where they see how fast they can stab the knife between their fingers without accidentally stabbing themselves. Homer, of course, stabs his fingers on every try.

    I have no explanation for the rest of the episode.

  2. http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/assessment/2003/02/the_simpsons.html Here’s the article you’re referring to, man.

    I used to have a much higher tolerance, and get much more entertainment from Post-9 Seasons a few years back. That’s changed, but even then, I considered this episode to be unspeakably horrible.

  3. It’s amazing how much worse these episodes are looking back on them. There’s not a whole lot redeemable about this one (though I do like when Skinner tells the children “No Blair Witch knockoffs.” There were a lot of those back then.)

  4. SleekVigilantPuma

    Good point about the crowbarring of random characters into scenes – a constant and horribly jarring feature of the zombie years.

    Springfield was always pretty parochial, but this is bizarre and incestuous and really highlights the stunted horizons of the later shows. Ugh.

  5. Say what you will, but I love Homer’s reaction to “THE ARRRRK” and Marge’s “Stay back! i have Jimmies!”

    But it was really stupid that they had Becky really plotting to kill Marge.

  6. Yeah, isn’t that knife game (“5 Finger Fillet”) in Aliens? I know it’s in Drugstore Cowboy… but, uh, I’m sure it’s an Aliens “reference”.

    As for why Homer is doing it, eh… I guess usually only dumb people are shown doing it… so they wanted to reinforce that Homer’s dumb… uh..

  7. – I assume Homer saw it on TV or a movie. The problem is no one else says it! You have to establish why characters are doing things for a joke to work. I will admit I love Homer’s delivery on, “I didn’t hurt your precious table!”
    – No mention of Parker Posey as Becky? Speaking of, there’s a massive plot hole I never figured out: If Becky hates heavy metal music, why the hell was she at the concert where she met Otto?!

    • “No mention of Parker Posey as Becky?”

      IMO, Becky could have been voiced by Tress MacNeille just as easily, and nothing else would have been any different.

      That said, PP wasn’t wasted to *quite* the same extent that the likes of Kathy Griffin and Olympia Dukakis were in the following few seasons.

    • Little Thin Man Accused in Robbery

      A little late to the party here – Otto says he met Becky at Woodstock 1999, which, besides being marred by violence and riots (hence Otto being on fire) and being infamously expensive (hence $8 for a bottle of water), did have a pretty varied line-up. I wouldn’t say it was much of a stretch that two people with different music tastes might wind up there at all.

      I mean, fuck this episode, it really is awful, but I wouldn’t say that’s a plot hole.

  8. This episode was so stupid, none of it made a lick of sense.
    I always wonder, especially with the later episodes, do they not realise how awful this all is?

    Even if you ignore Classic Simpsons and just take it as it’s own show, do they really think it’s funny? Or clever? Or interesting?

    Or do they just not care?

  9. The worst part of this episode was Marge admitting to putting meat in Lisa’s food. It’s not enough they have to make her homicidally paranoid, she could at least be a supportive mother.

  10. there is the odd bit that made me smile which is usually true of stuff up to season 12 or so, like the fake outs with Becky holding what appears to be a gun and is a hair dryer and I do rather like squeaky voice teen’s attempt at the promotional speach for the icecream arc that Homer orders (which is totally a homer thing), but failing with any gravitas whatsoever.

    MArge not knowing about her kids favourite foods or sneaking meet though is nasty I agree, still in general I really can’t hate this one half as much as I should, maybe I’m just immured to crap at this point and have lower standards.

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