363. The Last of the Red Hat Mamas

(originally aired November 27, 2005)
Ah, Marge episodes. Strap yourself in for another exercise in banality. Marge is depressed that she doesn’t have any friends, then she finds some: a group of women called the Cheery Red Tomatoes. They then do some activities together. Do any of them exhibit any signs of personality? Nope. Only one of them has lines or a name, the rest are just set dressing. Well, not true; rather than develop another character, they threw Agnes in there too for some reason. Upon her final initiation, Marge realizes the group is planning a heist on Burns Manor, to take the money that Burns had promised to a children’s hospital. They do the job, end up getting caught, Burns lets them go, and Marge is inexplicably out of the group. She reveals she snuck one of Burns’ Faberge eggs in her hair, to which Tammy the leader comments, “To be safe, sweetie, I don’t think we can ever see each other again.” Any reasoning for that? Nope. It’s not even a cop out ending. I don’t even know if I can call it an ending.

The main story is so boring… So is the side story, but it’s more bizarre. Lisa inquires about studying abroad, because of course a second grader can do that. To be approved to go to Italy, she must speak fluent Italian, because, again, eight-year-olds should be expected to be bilingual. She ends up getting a tutor, and is surprised to find it’s Milhouse, who speaks Italian from spending summers in Europe with his grandmother. All of a sudden, he’s a brazen and confident, taking Lisa to Little Italy so they can do another Godfather reference. Lisa starts falling for him, for some reason, until she finds him with another girl in his lap… yeah, I don’t even know what to make of all this. Is he acting like a big shot to impress Lisa? If that’s the case, then why was he with that girl in the end? Oh, who cares. There’s nothing worth getting upset about here; just another complete waste of twenty minutes, time that could have been spent doing an interesting story with actual humor.

Tidbits and Quotes
– I had just complained about Miss Springfield and the Crazy Cat Lady last episode, and here they’re back again! Of course Quimby has girls in cages in his office, that totally makes sense, and when Homer tells Marge he found her a friend, of course it was the fucking Crazy Cat Lady.
– Marge is humiliated by Homer getting into a fight at the Easter egg hunt, but the silver lining is that Homer didn’t start it. Seeing Maggie isn’t getting any eggs, Homer helps out by stealing them from other children (“Peekaboo, I steal from you!”) It’s kind of sweet. Then the referee flat-out tackles him, and the brawl begins. Sure, Homer ends up taking it too far, but at least it’s a little victory for me.
– If anyone wants to explain that Sherri & Terri twin language bit to me, have at it. Is the joke that they’re twins? I’m not entirely sure.
– Lisa tries to learn Italian on cassette, but it has phrases like, “I plan to dump this body in the ocean.” She looks and sees it’s “Italian for Italian-Americans!” Because Italian-Americans are mobsters! Get it?
– Marge builds a kinship with the Tomatoes by bitching about Homer. Now, if I may do a quick compare & contrast, think back to “War of the Simpsons,” where we have a similar joke. Marge lists hours and hours of faults about Homer, so many that she grows hoarse, but they’re small, believable things, that he chews with his mouth open and his long yellow toe nails. Here, Marge complains how Homer cut up her wedding dress to make a badminton net and how he’s a multiple felon. It’s not as funny when Homer’s made out to be this insane maniac rather than just a normal person.
– I guess it’s funny that Milhouse’s middle name is Mussolini. But why would they name him that?
– Skimming back through the episode, it seems one of the Tomatoes actually does have a line. And they all chant “Bare hair!” Alright then.
– Mr. Burns arranged an event at the Children’s Hospital, wrote out a check, all so he could announce that he was keeping it for himself and release the hounds on the crowd. This is more cartoon villain Burns from “Homer vs. Dignity,” humiliating and depriving others for his sick, perverted pleasure.

Brief aside, I gotta be honest, I’m kind of getting tired of doing this. The Jean era is really beating me down; these episodes are just getting more and more unremarkable, and a lot of my commentary feels redundant at this point. But I’m so very close to the end, so I might as well press forth. I want to finish seasons 17 and 18, and the movie, by the end of the year, then wrap everything up at the start of 2013. Big thanks to all who have been keeping up and reading all this, and glad to hear you’re enjoying it on some level. Just be thankful you don’t have to watch any of this.

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14 responses to “363. The Last of the Red Hat Mamas

  1. Last episode spat all over the plot to “Homer’s Odyssey,” this one decides to just copy “Scenes From the Class Struggle in Springfield” but also manages to do it in such poor conditions.

  2. Oh yeah, and be thankful for not having to watch any of it? I watched ALL of it in July. I started June 27th and finished Aug 1st. I will say though, I don’t even know if I am going to continue watching Season 24 because I am burnt out on the show. Well, sort of. I thought i was, but I just managed to watch all 8 THoH episodes in two sittings over the last two nights, so maybe I am not burnt out on the show, it is just that the new stuff is that painful.

  3. Thanks for doing this Mike, you’ve done an excellent job so far and I hope they consider you as a guest blogger for deadhomersociety sometime in the future. For the record, starting in 2000, for some reason, I have watched seasons 1-15 and beyond at least anywhere from 10-20 times or more through the years via syndication or reruns on FOX. I feel braindead from watching them almost. But you have put them into perspective for me (and others) very nicely. Now, back to playing Fallout 3 and Oblivion…

  4. I’m not sure why I sorta liked this one when it first aired. There are some funny moments (“You’re like -all- Easter bunnies: Can’t take a punch to the crotch!”; Fox Sports West II Classic Fox Sports Fox; “Burns’s Mansion? That’s Mr. Burns’s Mansion!”), but it’s yet another episode that doesn’t amount to much. And there are just as many jokes that fall flat anyway.

    And yes, it is confusing that Milhouse is found cheating on Lisa, despite the fact that he’s had a huge crush on her for a long time and it was his idea to teach her Italian in the first place to get closer to her. What, does seeing a pretty girl make him the equivalent of a dog that spots a squirrel?

  5. There actually is such a thing as “twin language.” It wasn’t funny the way they used it here, but it does exist:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idioglossia

  6. the subplot’s also weird because the next episode is The Italian Bob. i don’t know if Lisa learning Italian is a random attempt at continuity to explain her understanding Italian in the next episode (can’t remember if she even does), or just a coincidence.

    • This episode and The Italian Bob are from different production seasons (Red Hat Mamas being the final episode from the season 16 run), so I don’t know whether that makes your theory more or less likely.

  7. Soldier on, Mike. You’re a braver man than most of us for getting this far. Although, I must say, right around the beginning of the Al Jean run, I noticed an uptick in the amount of cursing in these reviews. Can’t be a coincidence and it makes me happy that I stopped asking for Simpsons’ DVDs as Christmas gifts after Season12.

  8. Bart has a single line of dialogue here…as Ralph’s straight man.

  9. American Dad did this type of episode much better and the episode aired in December 2005.

  10. Thanks Mike we really appreciate this. I know it can be exhausting but I for one am really excited for your Simpsons Ride and Simpsons Movie review, not to mention you’re so close to the end now. Don’t let the Jean era defeat you! I understand if it does, though, I dunno why I contiuned watching as long as I did.

  11. Homer has a line in this that I absolutely hate:

    “She could be a good friend for Marge, she looks defeated too!”

    I really REALLY hate the idea of Homer being so comfortable with his wife’s unhappiness. Fuck this shit.

  12. “This is more cartoon villain Burns from “Homer vs. Dignity,” humiliating and depriving others for his sick, perverted pleasure.”
    It’s like “Who Shot Mr. Burns? (Part 2” was prophetic. (“…he crossed the line from everyday villainy to cartoonish super-villainy.”)

  13. Must admit I liked this one for a purely personal reason. I probably missed it in first run because Sky 1 over hear in Britain has such a weerd schedule that they’ll follow something from season 17 with something from season 2 on the same night.

    I thus only saw this one after I started learning to speak Italian and was very pleased I could translate all millhouse lines streight off.

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