(originally aired March 30, 2008)
Another stupid episode with two stupid stories; one an absurd over-exaggerated repeat of a theme we’ve seen before, and another that’s just… stupid. Marge is inspired to take up ballet by a commercial for a new dance academy, having done so in her youth. Despite having not done it in decades, she seems to be quite good, until she gets one cramp and her instructor tells her to get lost. Lisa chews him out, and he notices that she, for some reason, is standing feet out with perfect posture, and accepts him into his program. So Lisa’s a dancer now for some reason… haven’t we seen this before? But the bigger issue is Marge living vicariously through her daughter, which we’ve seen before in “Bart Star.” As coach, Homer pushes Bart hard and showers him with praise, wanting him to be the star athlete who has his father’s support that he never was (“You shouldn’t pressure Bart like that.” “Well, if you know a better way for me to live through your son, then I’d like to hear it.”) It was done very believably and subtly. But now… (“The important thing is someday I’ll be watching my little Marge dancing at Lincoln Center.” “Lisa, Mom. I’m Lisa.” “Of course, you’re Lisa. Lisa the dancing Marge girl.”) Has she gone insane?
So in the academy, Lisa finds that the other dancers get their grace and slim frames from smoking, and she discovers that inhaling second hand smoke benefits her as well. So I guess this is sort of like their very special smoking show, but since Lisa’s only eight, and the writers love to write the kids older, this was their way of getting around it. It doesn’t even matter, since in the end, it all de-evolves into a gigantic farce. Speaking of, the B-story involves Homer’s homemade stockpile of jerky getting ransacked by a couple of raccoons, and his endeavors to capture them, all with “hilarious” results. He only calls off his attack when he sees their little raccoon family, and look! They all look like the Simpson family! And if you didn’t get it, Homer names each one! And we see the little Homer raccoon strangle the Bart raccoon! This shit is stuff I’d expect from a Saturday morning cartoon, not the fucking Simpsons. The two plots “cross” when Homer lets one of the raccoons loose to steal the dancers’ cigarettes, causing them all to completely lose their shit after intermission. It’s insane and weird, Lisa quits ballet, and the episode’s over. Yet another stinker.
Tidbits and Quotes
– The episode begins with the Simpsons attending the midnight release of the final Harry Potter… sorry, Angelica Button book. When was the last Potter book released in relation to this show’s airing? Oh yeah, two years ago. Each family member gets a book, Lisa skims through the entire thing on the car ride home reading out the main plot beats, finishes, and they all throw their books out the window. Then they go watch TV. Totally in-character for Lisa to do.
– I like Azaria’s voice for the dance instructor. He’s kind of funny. I guess.
– Disturbing bit where Marge mentions she fell out of ballet when her breasts off-set her balance… because they came in one at a time.
– More compare and contrast: in “Last Tap Dance in Springfield,” Lisa wants to give up dancing. In this show, Homer wants to pull Lisa from the class because of the second hand smoke thing. In “Tap,” Homer and Marge lavish Lisa with praise and happiness over their “little Broadway baby.” It’s laid on a bit thick, but feels very real, two parents who are just in awe of their little girl’s interests. In this episode, Marge is a crazy person, making a gigantic ballerina cake and acting like without her daughter fulfilling her dream, she’d just up and die. She’s just way, way, way too into it.
– The ending is just batshit insane. Without cigarettes, the dancers go a little nutty. And by nutty, I mean fucking bonkers. One tries to smoke her finger. One suckles on a No Smoking cigarette sign painted on the wall. One smokes a program. One rips hair from her head to smoke that. They hadn’t smoked for about an hour, and they’re doing this. But that’s the joke, right? The problem here, and it’s a consistent problem with the show now, is their penchant for over-exaggeration. It just becomes too much, it becomes too absurd to be funny, and makes the show feel less real to me.
– I did like the dance instructor’s dramatic exit, continuing all the way down the block and onto the bus. That’s about the only thing in this show I liked though. Then the episode ends with Homer forcing Bart to train to be a luchador for some reason.