508. Lisa Goes Gaga

Original airdate: May 20, 2012

The premise:
Lisa is at her lowest point after being humiliated at school, and who better to help cheer her up than pop megastar Lady Gaga, who continuously harasses and stalks the poor girl to make herself feel better.

The reaction: I already watched this episode way back when I initially ended this blog, and I absolutely hated it. And even now, after watching all the terrible shows up to this point, even being numb to the low, low quality, I still absolutely detest this show. This episode goes beyond the show’s typical celebrity naval-gazing, this is a full-on Lady Gaga dick sucking session. I really don’t feel like sugar coating it; from beginning to end, Gaga is the star of the show, adored by all, and inexplicably saves the day in the end. We even get an original song out of her, but you could’ve fooled me that it was meant to be funny, because most of the way through, I thought it was some shameless cross-promotion of her newest album. In terms of satire, the only thing the writers can come up with for Gaga is just exaggerating her already exaggerated persona. Getting transported by a glaringly pink train with high heels on its drive wheels, being lifted by hummingbirds onto a stage, crying glitter, and then when they run out of ideas, they just insert shit Gaga’s done already, like the meat dress or being hatched from an egg. This is not parody. There’s no joke to this, other than showcasing the reality of the artist’s eccentricities, honoring her mega-fame rather than trying to do anything remotely humorous. As for the plot they attempt, it’s pretty mind boggling. Through completely absurd reasons, Lisa is extremely depressed, and Gaga rolls into town with the desire to make everyone feel good about themselves. She’s almost militant about it, screaming “No negativity!” at a man who’s been stuck against the side of her train for days. Through some weird psychic episode (???), she hones in on Lisa’s sadness, and then takes it upon herself to follow her around everywhere and poke and prod her into cheering up. While this poor girl just wants to be left alone, she won’t stop spouting empty platitudes and creating meaningless gestures like a flash mob to fix the situation. Through the whole thing, it almost feels like it’s building up to something, like it’s inching so close to satire. As a hypercharged megacelebrity, Gaga seems extremely out of touch with normal people, and her quick fix solutions and simplistic view of the world just don’t cut it for Lisa. By the end of the show, she rightfully explodes at her, calling Gaga out on being shallow and self-centered. Again, it’s so… soooo close to being actual satire, it hurts. But then we get to the ending. Homer says some nonsensical shit to Lisa, and then, literally out of nowhere, she perks up and rushes to catch Gaga before she leaves town. She apologizes for being ungrateful, realizing that blowing up at her was like a big stress reliever and fixed all her problems. And then they sing together. And Yeardley Smith sounds auto-tuned. So, not only do they skirt the edge of satire with Gaga the entire show, tease it so closely, and then just completely and utterly undermine the whole thing at the very end, like whoooooops, JK! ALL HAIL GAGA! That’s why this episode is so detestable, so fucking offensive to me. They have a lot of the ingredients for satire there and they partially execute them, consciously or not, but for whatever reason, they just roll over and let themselves be just another glorified platform for a gigantic celebrity. It’s the starfucking I expect from a disposable supermarket tabloid, not what was once the greatest comedy series of all time.

Three items of note:
– I really do try to avoid direct comparisons to classic shows as much as I can, but seeing this, I would be shocked if it wasn’t the writers’ intention to try to recreate “Stark Raving Dad.” It was a similar scenario for the staff twenty years prior, a larger than life superstar wanting to do a voice on the show. Michael Jackson was an even bigger name for his time than Gaga, and the episode could have easily been just a big lovefest. But, because the show back then was actually written intelligently, we got Leon Kompowski, a hulking mental patient who thinks he’s the King of Pop. The show respected and honored Jackson and presented him in a positive fashion, but in a unique and bizarre twist. Having him voice just this normal guy who liked making people smile with moon walking and crotch grabbing is a million times more endearing and inventive than anything they did with Gaga here.
– The only thing close to positive I can say about this show is Yeardley Smith goes into overdrive as the most despondent we’ve ever heard Lisa, but the reason for her depression is so nonsensical that it’s in service of nothing. At an assembly, she’s given the most unpopular student award, which is a thing that exists and that Skinner openly allows Lisa to come up and accept, all on the verge of tears. Later, we see there’s an anonymous poster on the school message board defending Lisa, which raises her spirits slightly. But the next day at school, Lisa drops her notebook, which Bart finds is full of drafts of posts from the anonymous poster, exposing Lisa. It’s such an involved controversy that makes no sense. Why would Lisa be writing these down on paper rather than her laptop, and furthermore, why would she bring it to school? And really, what does all this matter? Lisa was always the loner with no real friends, it’s something she’s more or less made peace with over the years. But now episodes like this and “The D’oh-cial Network” portray Lisa as the sad nerd who desperately wants acceptance from other kids who wants nothing to do with her.
– Lisa isn’t the only Simpson Gaga invades the personal space of. We get an absolutely desperate scene featuring an unprovoked kiss between her and Marge. For some reason, Marge has a exaggeratedly negative reaction toward Gaga touching her hand, which then immediately leads to Gaga locking lips with her. This apparently gets Marge so hot that she immediately rushes upstairs to fuck her husband, so I guess that makes it okay that Gaga effectively just forced herself onto her. What an absolutely shameless plea for publicity; it even had its own hashtag when it first aired, #GagaKissesMarge. This is the shit that I expect from garbage reality shows on Bravo trying to boost their ratings.

One good line/moment: Absolutely nothing. Going forward, I will be incredibly surprised to come across a worse episode than this. I can’t think of what could possibly sink lower.

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8 responses to “508. Lisa Goes Gaga

  1. You’ll run into plenty of crap in Season 24, but I can safely tell you that nothing in it is as bad as this episode or the Bar Rag episode.

    I’ll also say Season 24 has one hidden gem, and a handful of decent-to-good episodes, but I’ll comment when you get to them.

  2. I just popped back into this blog to re-read some of the older posts; imagine my glee when I discovered that you’re doing new ones! And talk about serendipity, I picked such an apropos time to come back, because this is one of a handful of Season 23 episodes I’ve actually seen, and I despised every second of the experience. There’s something very cathartic about reading analysis like this, that’s a.) screamingly funny, and b.) explains exactly why episodes like this don’t work and how they could’ve if they’d been done right. It’s not just bitching, it’s actual study, and I appreciate that. Godspeed to Season 24 and beyond 🙂

  3. If you hated this episode of Lady Gaga Show, get ready to see the Elon Musk Show! (Yes, it’s WORST).

    Oh, and you are entering Season 24, the worst season show, the episodes are BORING AS HELL! Be afraid!

  4. If they were kissing celebs’ asses before, they were just frenching Gaga’s a-hole in this episode. That’s all I have to say.

  5. “When You Dish Upon a Star” and “Beyond Blunderdome” are looking positively brilliant right about now.

    • The Anonymous Nobody

      At least those episodes had some funny bits, like the Yogi Bear dream and the shifty-eyed dog. This had nothing, and I almost don’t want to watch it again because I’ll probably hate it even more.

      Like Mike said, there was a great chance at doing satire here. Lady Gaga, one of the biggest stars in the industry, coming to Springfield and annoying everybody around her while being oblivious to it the whole time could have worked. Lisa’s speech is something that you would see in a classic episode dealing with celebrities. But no, everything is played completely straight, and I’m sure Gaga would have loved to make fun of herself. Instead, what we get is an unironic love letter to her.

      It really sucks how at one point, The Simpsons was able to handle material like this. They took Michael Jackson and James Brown, two of the greatest artists of all-time (could have been three if Prince liked the script) and made fun of them while respecting them at the same time. Now it’s like the show is afraid to step on any toes, which is weird because celebrities will probably see being mocked on The Simpsons in 2017 as a rite of passage.

  6. This is probably my second most hated episode in the entire series (believe it or not, I actually think the worst is “On A Clear Day I Can’t My SIster”) but I did still get a chuckle out of Gaga saying, “Burn it. Burn it now” about JLo’s dress. Also, her “Tiny diamonds. Hurts like hell.” when crying. I like when people saying things like that in monotone voices.

    I also smirked at Bart’s “Without award shows, how would I know what movie has the best beheading? Or that Glee is a comedy?” and Skinner’s “I know very little about children.”

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