(originally aired November 16, 2008)
This episode is kind of like “Lisa the Greek,” except it’s terrible. More pretentious know-it-all Lisa, and unforgivable asshole Homer, together in one aggravating, uncomfortable show. Lisa develops a knack for doing crosswords, becoming an expert, as Simpsons are insanely fast learners nowadays. These are New York Times level crosswords, containing clues pertaining to history, old pop culture, an untold multitude of questions that no eight-year-old girl could possibly be able to figure out. But never mind that, of course Lisa knows Isaac Bashevis wrote Yentl, or the Bay Area Rapid Transit. Doesn’t everyone? She is entered into a crossword competition, going up against adults. In “I’m Spelling As Fast As I Can,” we had Lisa in a spelling bee against other kids, that makes logical sense. Here, she’s besting everyone at doing these really hard crosswords with questions that there’s no possible way she would know the answers to. Lisa is very smart, but she’s still just a little girl, something the writers fail to remember a lot of the time.
Shit hits the fan before the final round; Homer has been making huge bets for her daughter to win it all, but shirks back when Lisa talks to her about her worry that she might sabotage herself, in a rather depressing manner that again sounds nothing like an eight-year-old (“In my young life, I’ve seen that every time I’m about to achieve true happiness, some little piece of me says, ‘You don’t deserve this,’ and another little piece says, ‘I agree.'”) This is really worrying behavior. Perhaps Homer should quit while he’s ahead, hold onto his already vast winnings, and encourage the hell out of his daughter. Or, he can bet against her, and just get more money. What a fucking scumbag. Lisa finds out and is livid, of course, so much so she rejects the Simpson name and retitles herself Lisa Bouvier. How will Homer wiggle his way out of this? By someone contacting the guys who make the New York Times crossword to print clues in the form of a half-assed apology to her. That’ll patch things up nicely. How about Homer put that ill-gotten money into Lisa’s college fund? Nah, twenty minutes is up, we’ve wrapped things up already, never mind. Can you imagine “Lisa the Greek” now? Homer would’ve bet on the big game in the third act and acted like an inconsiderate buffoon, until the last two minutes where we’d have an insincere resolution crammed in. Just awful.
Tidbits and Quotes
– Homer is aggravating from the start, with his new “business” of assisting with break-ups, as in he will do the break-up for someone who’s too spineless to do it themselves. This proves to be quite lucrative, starting off with him dumping Skinner for Edna, who for some reason can’t do it herself, and also the two are together again, I guess. Homer even gets a call from his old roommate Grady (“The gay guy?” “That’s not all I am!”) Sorry, but on this show, that’s true. He wants to break up with Julio since now he’s with Duffman. Homer goes down to the gay club to tell him, and assists everyone else in the club with their breakups: everyone just move one guy to the right and they’re all happy. Because gay guys are promiscuous, and will fuck any other guy without qualm. Those craaaaazy gays! The Homer plot doesn’t even tie into the crossword betting, only in that he uses his money he earned from it. But if he’d have pulled out a giant wad of cash out of nowhere, I wouldn’t have batted an eye at this point.
– I take issue with the words having been removed from the dictionary: I still use ‘skedaddle’ and ‘hootenanny’ all the time.
– I really don’t understand why Gil is the champion at the end for several reasons. First, it’s Gil coming up with a duplicitous plan to trick this little girl and take home the gold. This is Gil, the ultimate loser, he shouldn’t be this sharp. That and he completes the entire crossword in under five seconds, which is just fucking impossible. Also, why would his plan work at all? Even if Lisa had never seen any of Gil’s matches, he still got all the way up to the semi-finals. He has to be really good at crosswords, otherwise he wouldn’t even be there. So if it were Gil or just another random character, either way it makes no goddamn sense.
– It’s astounding just how insensitive and monstrous Homer is in this show, only remorseful once he realizes he’s in the doghouse. Seeing him filled with glee at Lisa losing as his tray of money is handed over to him is such an unpleasant sight, they might as well have made the act break Homer laughing maniacally fanning himself with bills with Lisa’s face crying on a TV in the background.
– Marge never knew Jacqueline Kennedy’s last name was Bouvier, thinking it was just Jackie O (“Like Spaghetti-O’s!”) Seriously? More of the writers mistaking her naivety for her just being stupid.
– Oh my God! Will Shortz and Merl Reagle guest star! Two people that no one fucking knows! Reagle did all the crosswords appearing in the show, including a special Simpsons-themed one for the New York Times the Sunday this episode aired. He did a fantastic job, and I’m sure he worked harder on those than the writers did on this whole fucking episode.