429. Lisa the Drama Queen

Lisa the Drama Queen(originally aired January 25, 2009)
Since it aired, I’ve been confused for the longest time about what the hell the deal is with this episode, now I see it’s a parody of the film Heavenly Creatures. From what I can be bothered to read, it’s about the obsessive, borderline sexual relationship of two girls who immerse themselves into their own fantasy world. And in the end they kill one of their mothers. That sounds like perfect fodder for a story about eight-year-old girls. At a rec center art class, Lisa meets Juliet, an enlightened English girl who she quickly develops a friendship with. Should I mention the girl in the movie is also named Juliet, and her father is also a professor who just moved to a local university, and the girls met in an art class where they were being stifled creatively? Just a coincidence, I’m sure. The two create their own girly fantasy world Equalia, and end up getting more and more distanced from the outside world and other people. At first it seems like Lisa will realize that Juliet’s gone mad, seeing fantasy creatures outside her mind, but then it turns out Lisa sees them too, the two of them having a mutual hallucinogenic trip. What’s going on here?

As to be expected, Juliet has no real character and is boring. Emily Blunt is beautiful and a great talent, but a little girl, she ain’t. There are moments in this episode that really feel quite disturbing, where the girls talk about how much they mean to each other, they hold hands, and in their fantasy, they slow-dance to a romantic Josh Groban song… Like… what am I supposed to think here? The movie features lesbianism, and it looks like there’s a lot lifted from it in this episode, like Lisa and Juliet sitting in one hammock mirrors a shot where the two girls are naked together in a bathtub. What the ever loving fuck is this? The turning point in this show, I feel, is when it’s quite clear that Juliet is crazy; she tells Lisa she sees her fantasy world in her backyard, Lisa looks concerned, we hear dramatic music… then all of a sudden, Lisa is insane too. Couldn’t they turned the source material on its ear and had Lisa concerned for her friend’s sanity, Juliet could have snapped and she would have to talk her down from doing something drastic? Instead, they run away together, escape from the bullies, and stop being friends on a dime, with Juliet chastising Lisa for wanting to live in reality. A very frustrating… confusing episode.

Tidbits and Quotes
– So the scene with the art teacher criticizing Juliet’s work and Lisa coming to her defense is apparently right out of Heavenly Creatures. With all of these flagrant similarities, I don’t exactly know how this can be considered parody, it’s bordering on plagiarism. I hope one of my readers has seen this movie and can comment on this, I know very little about it.
– We kill thirty seconds by having Lisa and Juliet sing a Josh Groban song. I guess that means they’re bonding. Also, I hope Groban sent a gift basket or something for all of the name drops in this show. Also, this sequence is awful. There have been several instances of late of characters singing padding out shows, but this is the most blatant I’ve seen. Also, Yeardley Smith and Emily Blunt together is pretty painful to listen to.
– Lisa is nervous about having a first date… er, play date (“Not that I couldn’t get one if I wanted…”) Later, Marge forbids Lisa from seeing her girlfr… I mean, friend (“There are limits on how much two people should be together!” “Well you can’t keep me and Juliet apart!”) Then Juliet urges Lisa to run away with her (“Equalia needs you! I need you!”) There’s so much of this kind of stuff in here; it’s not even lesbian subtext, it’s the actual dialogue.
– The ending is so unbelievably sloppy. They escape the bullies by wooing Kearney over with their stupid story, who then proceeds to fight with Jimbo and Dolph so they can get away, to the tune of another goddamn motherfucking Josh Groban song. Also, there are holes in their cages for some reason so Lisa and Juliet could hold hands. Identical cages, with one having the hole on the left side, and the other on the right. Good thing they made those cages like that. Then Juliet leaves when Lisa says she wants to live in the real world (“The real world? The real world is for people who can’t imagine anything better. Goodbye, Lisa.”) It would have been good if they had addressed Juliet’s psychosis earlier in the episode, wouldn’t it, instead of brush it off completely.

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20 responses to “429. Lisa the Drama Queen

  1. Flancrest Enterprises

    I’ve seen the film, it’s pretty good to say the least, but I haven’t seen this episode (I think). This seems like an episode thats less of a parody of Heavenly Creatures but more of a shot for shot remake of Heavenly Creatures but with Simpsons. but since it’s a film that few people have seen, Al Jean and co. have the defense of “you’re just not aware of the source material”.

    Since this is my first post I want to say how much I enjoyed this blog and your journey of the Simpsons, Hang in there you’re almost done

  2. This is one of the worst episodes in the series hands down. Probably in my 11-20 range.

    • Agreed. I -hate- this episode. It’s creepy, unfunny, and too focused on referencing the source material to be an original story.

      I didn’t catch this one in its original run but when I saw it in syndication… yeah. Once was enough.

  3. Weird, I’ve seen Heavenly Creatures and I didn’t realize at all that this was a parody. Strange. It makes sense, though, now that I really think about it.

    …Still a creepy episode, either way. Hard to watch. Boring but just makes me feel uncomfortable. I liked “arts and [marked out]crafts (no crafts)” … and that’s abut it.

    • Oh, and no mention of the her dad, who is a John Grisham scholar and plays “the Pelican Brief soundtrack track 3: reading the brief”? followed by her declaration of “I HATE TRACK 3!” which is what makes her snap and decide to run away from home? Weirdass scene.

  4. It may not really matter I guess, but kinda depressing THIS was the very last standard definition episode with the old opening :-/ Now onto the cold sterility of the HD era! Yay!

    • Luckily Mike only has 15 HD eps. to review and sad that they couldn’t have made the last SD episode go out with a bang :/

  5. So the scene with the art teacher criticizing Juliet’s work and Lisa coming to her defense is apparently right out of Heavenly Creatures. With all of these flagrant similarities, I don’t exactly know how this can be considered parody, it’s bordering on plagiarism. I hope one of my readers has seen this movie and can comment on this, I know very little about it.

    It reminds me of what Apu said to Skinner about his blatant rip-off of Jurrasic Park with a title no-one could possibly like.

  6. Lisa is nervous about having a first date… er, play date (“Not that I couldn’t get one if I wanted…”) Later, Marge forbids Lisa from seeing her girlfr… I mean, friend (“There are limits on how much two people should be together!” “Well you can’t keep me and Juliet apart!”) Then Juliet urges Lisa to run away with her (“Equalia needs you! I need you!”) There’s so much of this kind of stuff in here; it’s not even lesbian subtext, it’s the actual dialogue.

    [sigh] more unnatural dialogue from ZS… when will it end?

  7. All in all, I actually enjoyed this particular episode of ZS. I like the fantasy sequences, the Homer troll/ogre, the Josh Groben music and the weird relationship of Lisa and Juliet. It just worked for me and others as a watchable episode and somewhat enjoyable, but only by a thread.

  8. The art class scene is featured briefly in the trailer, for comparison:

    Josh Groban appears to be a stand in for Mario Lanza- why they chose him, I don’t know- and the running away scene also appears to be entirely lifted from the film:


    • Completely unrelated to anything, but that second video still has got to be the most unflattering image of Kate Winslet I’ve ever seen.

      • phillyfoodie85

        I think this may have been her earliest film…or maybe she’s one of those actresses who wants to go for a role where she’s not pretty.

  9. I absolutely hate this episode. I hated it when it first aired, and when I actually saw Heavenly Creatures, the episode outright disgusted me. Heavenly Creatures lends no material for a Simpsons episode, much less an episode centering around EIGHT YEAR OLDS. To me, this is the worst episode I’ve ever seen and essentially the one that made me stop being a Simpsons Apologist.

  10. I haven’t seen it in a while, but I really enjoyed Heavenly Creatures when I saw it. It’s always weirdly incongruous to me when I see Zombie Simpsons reference something GOOD.

  11. Would anyone really have cared if they just made Bart and Lisa into teenagers a while back? The writers seem desperate for it to happen given stories like these.

  12. Funny, I thought this episode was a parody of Bridge to Terabithia.

    • Lazslo Panaflex

      Hey, me too! Tellingly, I haven’t seen either film.

      I actually only saw this for the first time – not through choice – at a friend’s house a couple of months ago. Utterly dreadful, but I have to admit I almost killed myself laughing at Martin’s “Well, to the extent that you can trust the word of a Belgian…” line.

  13. What was the last straw for me in this episode was the ending. Lisa, eternal outcast finds a friend and kindred spirit at least (leaving out all the doginess).

    Lisa likes her enough to run away with her and construct an entire fantasy world, then at the end when Lisa realizes Juliet has a mental illness she makes insulting gestures says “coocoo” and walks off to never see her again?

    So the moral of the story is, when has mental problems, you ditch them! I know status Quo is god here, but really wasn’t there a way to actually have Lisa and Juliet part company without resorting to Jerk Ass Lisa?

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