(originally aired May 3, 2009)
Another episode that seems to have some kind of premise… it just gets lost in a bunch of meaningless nonsense. Marge happens to witness firsthand what a shithole Springfield Elementary is and ponders what can be done. There happens to be a much better facility in a nearby city, so Homer and Marge decide to rent an apartment there so the kids can attend that school. Where is this? Waverly Hills, an affluent, tropical area with a parody theme by Weezer. Have you guessed what this is a “parody” of yet? The eponymous sign, the various buildings, the city hall, all modeled after actual areas in Beverly Hills. So, is this supposed to be funny or clever that they just Simpsonized this place and replaced some letters in its name? Then we get there, and we barely even focus on the school. We see that it’s very rich and over-the-top, and that Lisa isn’t getting straight A’s like she used to, and rather than embrace a challenge, she whines and bitches about it. And ultimately that’s partly why she wants to leave in the end. Every character is oh so likeable nowadays…
For the back half of the episode, more time is spent not at the school but with Homer, where the gag is that he’s like a single swinging bachelor and Marge is his new girl, who becomes more and more over-involved with his life, like when he gives him a key to his apartment, she cramps his style by redecorating. It’s a cute premise when the two were self-consciously joking about it (“So can I see you again?” “How about you, me and my wife have a two-way?”) But then it just keeps going, and it just feels weird; are they still fucking around or are they believing their ridiculous premise? But whatever, the other time is spent with a ludicrous Lisa story. After spending a bit establishing street cred in Waverly Hills, Bart, for some reason, tries to get Lisa popular, spreading a rumor that she’s best friends with tween pop star Alaska Nebraska. Again, whoever could that be a parody of? It’s not clear why Bart does this, or why Lisa allows the charade to go on so long, or what the point of any of this is, but at the end of the day, we’ve killed twenty minutes, and that’s good enough for this show as it is now.
Tidbits and Quotes
– On her morning walk, Marge is stopped and samples scienceWater. Once again, whatever could this be parodying?
– At the school, Marge sees a classroom with triple-decker desks, just as they will be in the future in “Lisa’s Wedding.” And speaking of random callbacks, in the quick shot of the telemarketing office the teachers work in, the Heimlich maneuver poster of the man choking up a whole lobster is on the wall, as seen in “Homer at the Bat.”
– More random singing, after Homer mocks Bart about losing his elementary school friends, he and Milhouse sing, “Stand By Me.” Why would Milhouse be singing if he’s going to lose Bart?
– And more references instead of actual parody or humor; the city inspector is based on Anton Chigurh from No Country for Old Men, in that it’s just that character. He flips a coin, he uses a captive bolt pistol… there’s no joke other than it’s just this character that you recognize from that movie.
– Skinner is shocked to find Superintendent Chalmers meeting with the Waverly Hills Elementary principal. So was I, considering it seems that Chalmers is living at Springfield Elementary nowadays. This leads to a back-and-forth of the two and their fractured relationship, as if there wasn’t enough gay subtext between them already at this point.
– There’s an endless sequence at the act break of Bart running from Wiggum and the cops, tracking him down for not holding up his side of the bargain of going to Ralph’s birthday party. It’s a minute of pure unleaded time killer, since it has no point to the story at all.
– The Alaska Nebraska shit is completely pointless. There’s plenty to joke about regarding the Disney marketing machine, selling an image to impressionable preteen girls, the vacuous artistic content of these pop icons… but no, there’s literally no commentary about Hannah Montana or any of that stuff at all. It’s just a plot device for a Lisa story that makes absolutely no sense. And it’s subpar MAD magazine-type naming conventions too. Nebraska is voiced by Ellen Page, which makes it even more confusing, since her voice and candor don’t fit the character she’s playing. Is that supposed to be the joke? That she’s a bubbly pop star with a gruff, frank manner of speaking? Except we never see her perform or anything other than the one scene of her backstage. Oh, whatever.
– Homer plays Halo on Xbox! And also has a Wii! Oh wait, don’t you mean Funtendo Zii? Or Ybox? Fuck this shit.
– I love the ending, where we desperately wrap up all the loose ends as quickly and stupidly as possible. There’s really no reason for the Simpsons to go back, but we’ll manufacture some anyway. Lisa needs to escape from the girls who want her blood for lying about the Alaska Nebraska shit, a problem she created herself, Bart has no reason other than a joke, and Homer’s roommates stop by randomly to tell him that they hate him. Status quo, whatever would we do without you?