659. I’m Just A Girl Who Can’t Say D’oh

Original airdate: April 7, 2019

The premise: When Llewellyn Sinclair is pushed out of directing the latest production at the Springfield Playhouse, Marge takes up the directors chair, putting on a Hamilton inspired musical about Jebediah Springfield, written by Lisa.

The reaction: Twenty-six years after “A Streetcar Named Marge,” one of the greatest episodes of the show, Jeff Martin (and his wife) have written this episode, not exactly a sequel, more like what would have happened if “Streetcar” were pitched and written today, made all the more depressing that it’s the exact same writer behind it. We start with the latest appearance of Llewellyn Sinclair, overbearingly directing his cast through their upcoming performance of Oklahoma! Eventually, the Springfield players get fed up and force him out, leaving Marge to fill the vacuum as director for some reason, leading her to direct a brand new musical written by her eight-year-old daughter, and later signs a contract with Krusty to air the musical live nationwide. So, yeah, “Streetcar” featured our favorite Springfield denizens as plucky small town folk thinking it’d be fun to act in a musical, willing to put up with an irrational, heated director to have a bit of excitement in their lives on the big stage. Marge herself was one such starry eyed optimist, thinking acting in the play would be an exciting escape from her mind-numbing home life. As usual, the situation itself was very normal and believable, surrounded by absurdist elements (the Streetcar play itself, which we’ll get to…) Marge’s journey in this episode is hard to pin down. She’s initially nervous about being a first-time director, which is mentioned again and again. This implies she’ll direct more, and that this is some kind of passion of her’s (???) As usual with Simpson-becomes-instant-success stories, we never see them doing any actual work. After her first day, Krusty finds Sideshow Mel rehearsing his lines, and decides to just buy Marge’s play outright, so we immediately cut to the negotiation, with Marge sitting with shades and a purple power suit smiling vacuously. The play itself is a Jebediah Springfield biopic musical in the style of Hamilton which is not only written by Lisa, but rewritten on the spot live when the venue floods. The songs suck and aren’t funny. We hear barely two songs from the musical, compared to snippets of five we get of “Streetcar,” but I don’t even feel I should bother cross-referencing these two because it’s not even fair. Making a musical out of A Streetcar Named Desire is one of the cleverest, more ingeniously executed ideas the show had ever done; the concept itself was a great joke, and the songs were all absolutely stellar, humorously written and performed. Speaking of, it was a joke in itself hearing the likes of Wiggum, Apu and Marge singing these songs, these goofy cartoon voices giving earnest performances. Here, the gag is that Professor Frink has Josh Groban’s singing voice, so it’s just a talented singer doing these songs perfectly… so boring. The episode ends with Krusty telling Marge the live show got huge ratings, and her winning an award. Who gives a shit? Really, what does it matter that the show was a hit? I don’t even know why Marge cared about to begin with. “Streetcar,” of course, was never really about the show, but Marge feeling unappreciated by her husband, and Homer realizing that in the end and expressing it to her. As ridiculous and insane as the show got in the classic years, it always came down to the believable emotions and internal struggles of our favorite family. In episodes like these, I don’t know what I’m supposed to relate to.

Three items of note:
– There’s a subplot (I use the term charitably) where Homer stumbles upon an incredibly popular Daddy-And-Me class, filled with horny fathers who only go to ogle the hot, young instructor. Homer initially is naive about what’s going on, but quickly he becomes just as openly pervy as everyone else, spending the rest of the show fantasizing about the instructor, one of which is interrupted by Marge in bed, who thinks he’s such a great father for going to those classes. In the end, the classes are cancelled when the instructor makes her choice of which father she wants to fuck, and then that’s it. Do I even need to further discuss how fucked this all is? Remember when I tried to defend “Bart vs. Itchy & Scratchy” for being somewhat progressive in its gender politics? Never mind, I guess. Instead of making Homer completely oblivious to obvious outside temptation, like “Colonel Homer,” or making the instructor not a total dumb dumb bimbo, the show just plays it out like Homer’s Kevin James from King of Queens or something. The icing on the shit sundae is they have a “sweet” cap on the story where Homer realizes Maggie liked hanging out with him for all the classes. How nice. And Homer’s favorite part was undressing the twenty-something piece of ass with his eyes and dreaming about her when in bed with his wife. C o o l.
– After he’s outsed, Llwellyn Sinclair appears a few times throughout, first begging Marge to let him back into her production, and then later to poach her star player Sideshow Mel for his own new show. But it really doesn’t mean anything, since all we saw of Mel was one scene where we learn he’s the lead, and then one quick bit of him rehearsing in his dressing room at Krustylu Studios. Llwellyn comes to gloat at the Simpson house where Marge is getting ready for what I assumed was one of their earlier production meetings, but then she admits the show is in three days and they have no understudy. In this episode about the production of a musical, we barely fucking see any of the production at all, unlike “Streetcar,” of course, where it was the primary focus, amongst other things, because the show could effectively multitask back then. Here, it’s a miracle when the show manages to have one complete plot with a beginning, middle and end that make sense.
– I knew it was only a matter of time, but it finally happened: we get a scene where Bart does the flossing dance. I feel like that gif is going to get isolated and rile some people up online… that is if anyone actually gives enough of a shit to actually watch this trash and actually make it. It may pop up somewhere… but honestly, who cares. It only stood out more to be because I just saw Shazam! which has Zachary Levi flossing and that was actually charming in context. Ehhh, fuck this show, go see Shazam!, it’s not spectacular, but it’s a fun, sweet movie that bucks a lot of superhero movie conventions, although it’s not without its tired, overdone tropey elements, the villain in particular.

One good line/moment: Over the end credits, we get a snippet of a music video by Okilly Dokillys, a real-life no-foolin’ metal band who all dress up like Ned Flanders and perform songs that mostly comprise of Simpsons quotes. It’s one of those things that it’s so absolutely absurd on every level that it’s amazing already, but their music is actually really well done, even if metalcore music isn’t really my cup of tea. Similar to using that 16-bit fan made couch gag a couple years ago, this felt like the show “officially” ordaining a fan work, but actually in showing such a fan work that really felt fresh, original and creative, just kind of stands in contrast with the tired, hollowed out husk of the show itself. At least this time they put it at the end instead of the beginning. Here’s the music video if you haven’t seen it.

9 responses to “659. I’m Just A Girl Who Can’t Say D’oh

  1. matthewchard83

    “Similar to using that 16-bit fan made couch gag a couple years ago, this felt like the show “officially” ordaining a fan work, but actually in showing such a fan work that really felt fresh, original and creative, just kind of stands in contrast with the tired, hollowed out husk of the show itself.”

    It feels like fans of classic Simpsons understand the show so, so much better than any of the writers do. You only have to go on some Simpsons meme groups (eg: Rock Bottom, CGHMN) to see some hilarious posts that really capture the spirit of the early seasons. I wouldn’t bee surprised to see the show’s writers milk these groups more in future and they try to scratch around for content (they already appropriated the Homer Disappearing into the Bushes .gif).

    And yes, Shazam! is a great film.

  2. I knew it would be a ripoff of “Streetcar” but I wasn’t expecting this trash heap to include elements from “Lisa the Iconoclast,” another one of the greatest episodes ever. I’m sure whatever Jeff penned down was torn apart by the evil executives of FOX and that’s how we got this sterile mush.

    Cool music video, though. I take back everything bad I said about metal. Plus, it even made me hate “Viva Ned Flanders” a little less.

  3. Love how you end up doing a mini-review of Shazam out of nowhere, as if you just can’t stand reviewing this show anymore.
    It would be fun if it turned into an escalating running gag. Come Season 33, you stop reviewing the episode mid first-sentence and you start commenting on old Breaking Bad episodes or whatever (man, what a great show BTW).

  4. I would love to be a fly on the wall at the current writers room and see how they work on their scripts. Like do they just phone it in? Or are they well meaning but just inept? I can’t imagine anyone being passionate anymore considering how dreadful these shows turn out, and it’s been this way for around 15 or so years. Incredible really.

  5. Big John's Breakfast Log

    What ultimately made “A Streetcar Named Marge” fascinating was that they couldn’t play the, ahem, play straight, but when they were told they had the freedom to satirize elements of the musical, it allowed them to get creative with over-the-top dialogue and bits, such as a Laserium-inspired scene, that wouldn’t belong in a more traditional telling of the musical. However, the difference was that they were making an episode in a time where most musicals were only interesting to the ignorant masses if the costumes were outlandish and the show wasn’t going to start making fun of the now-camp Cats just yet (this was just a few years before musicals became interesting to a casual viewer with The Lion King… I dunno why I’m rambling).

    Doing a spoof on a musical like “Hamilton”, which was partially designed to appeal to the casual viewer, and trying to do Zombie Simpsons joke structures to it, such as characters reacting to things on the fly, doesn’t have the same effect. If anything, what the show should have tried was looking at bad musical plays over the past decade, like, say, “Doctor Zhivago” or “Scandalous”, and set it up where Marge winds up in a bad situation, but lucks out because the crowd, for whatever reason, likes the car-crash mentality. Then again, since the play is written by Lisa, you can’t have the play suck; it must be awesome and the greatest thing ever.

    The B-story is forgettable, as the writers have the tenacity and wit of your short-lived sitcom on CBS.

    Going back to last week; it’s a miracle we even had episodes built around secondary and tertiary characters back in the classic era, as those suggestions would be shot down in favor of “How can we put it so Homer gets screen time?” Family Guy focuses exclusively on its central family because its supporting cast was firmly established from the get-go that they existed solely to fill a specific joke when needed and pop in and out like puzzle pieces, whereas The Simpsons helped foster a world that was living and full of people that acted independently of the central family. Now, it seems like nobody can go five steps every day without their lives being dictated by a Simpson.

  6. This show is fucking terrible.

  7. Didn’t watch, as usual, but checked out the Okilly-Dokilly link. Pure awesomeness. Good on them for getting an appearance.

  8. Either the show runner and staff writers/story editors are ruining originally great scripts (have you seen what 20th Century Fox did to the 2015 Fantastic Four film?) and bringing good writers down, OR-and this is the lesser of two evil options-the classic The Simpsons writers with time are just as tapped for ideas as modern The Simpsons writers.

    I understand that Al Jean and the new The Simpsons writers who have been around since the early 2000s may have needed or wanted to take the show in some fresh directions that would change with the times, and that worked out in the first several seasons of Al Jean’s reign. However, that is no excuse to ruin potentially great ideas because the status quo or flanderization demands it (see Kamp Krustier for the worst offender of this type of failure) or sterilize a creative writer until it’s almost as generic and bland as The Emoji Movie. I bet Jeff Martin didn’t even want to come back to write a new episode like the masterpiece he wrote back in season 4. These The Simpsons writers are intelligent professionals. What they need that they lack is PASSION!

    P.S. I thought The Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie Show, Angry Dad: The Movie, and A Totally Fun Thing Bart Will Never Do Again, each in their own ways, were good episodes that made interesting storylines out of the writers’ own views out of how they felt about The Simpsons then when they wrote it-that pulling in new main characters for ratings are usually a bad gimmick idea, that some characters could be funny as a more cartoony parody of themselves, or that if you feel stuck in a rut, enjoy the few good, unlifeless moments life gives you.

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