Original airdate: January 9, 2011
The premise: The discovery of Bart’s childhood scar reminds Marge of the three women she befriended at a Mommy and Me class, and it leads to a successful reunion. But while Marge enjoys actually having friends again, Bart doesn’t feel as strong a kinship with the mothers’ sons, who are much more extreme and reckless than he, and seeks to tear down the new relationship for his own sake.
The reaction: For an episode revealing information about the past, the story certainly doesn’t feel it. Marge was apparently very good friends with these three women, but we don’t exactly know why. We also are not given any of these women’s names or know anything about them. They, nor their husbands or kids, are characterized in the slightest, and additionally, Marge doesn’t seem to express any specific interest in any of them either. A comparison to “Scenes of the Class Struggle in Springfield” would be way too unfair, but even going back to something like “Last of the Red Hot Mamas,” you at least had the leader of that group have a name and some kind of personality, and you saw Marge express great interest in the group and belonging and her feeling good about having friends. In this episode, we don’t really get any of that. The time instead is devoted to solving the mystery of how Bart and the other three boys got their weird scars. It’s built up through the whole show, and when we finally see what happened, it ultimately means nothing. The boys were a bunch of rapscallions that wandered off and got themselves hurt. We don’t see the mother group breaking up, or why they would do that because of what happened. There’s a scene where Bart and Marge have a back-and-forth where Bart wants to break up the group, but Marge is resistant (“I love you kids with all my heart, but dammit, I need something for myself!”) The problem is feebly established that the other three boys are too hardcore for Bart and he feels somewhat abused, but Marge doesn’t see any of this going on. Also, why would he have to hang out with them at all? In the end, Marge leaves the group anyway, in a super, super quick scene where one of the other moms claims Bart is the troublemaker of the bunch, and she storms out immediately (“I remember why I left this group seven years ago, and it’s why I’m leaving now!”) Huh? So, maybe the moms blamed Bart for their sons’ injuries and Marge was pissed about that? But why do I have to connect the dots for the most important part of the story, when they spend so much time on the scar mystery? Such a messy, nonsensical outing.
Three items of note:
– Not only do we have three new nameless women we know nothing about, we have three new nameless men too! Over and over, we see that whenever the four moms are hanging out and having fun, the dads are in the other room, awkwardly silent and not knowing what to do with themselves. It’s the same joke over and over. They can’t even get any comic material from Homer in this easy of a set-up? It all just feels so tired and lazy; so many of these episodes feel just like filling up space so they can barely reach the run time.
– Bart and Lisa go to confront Comic Book Guy about what happened in Bart’s past to get the scar, when Lisa chimes in, “Can we hurry this up, I feel really uncomfortable being a girl in this store.” We see her glancing at what looks like Barbarella in her tattered, revealing rags outfit chained to a boulder. It just felt like a really bizarre, awkward throwaway joke. It feels like subject matter that the show could have built an entire episode around if they cared enough to do it. Alienation of girls in nerd culture, female roles in comics, all this stuff, but the most contemporary the writers can go is a movie from the 60s, apparently.
– When Marge leaves the group for good, the three women are relieved that she’s gone, so they can proceed to make out with each other. So, they’re a swinging threesome, then? Did they want Marge to join them? Why would they want Marge to hang out with them if it was going to interrupt their sexy times? These girls-only outings are seemingly their cover to get away from their husbands, so why muck up their sexcapades by dragging along Marge if they didn’t also want to fuck her too? But why think too hard into it, it’s just a dumb joke. Like earlier this season with the LOGO and Bravo guys making out, or in the movie with the two male cops sucking face, I guess the takeaway is that gay people are weird and hilarious!
One good line/moment: The fourth graders challenge the fifth graders to a fight after school, “rain or shine.” Cut to them all standing outside in the pouring rain wearing ponchos, agreeing to reconvene during “shine” period. Then cut to them on a sunny day administering sunblock. Pretty amusing quick sequence.