704. Mother and Child Reunion


Original airdate: May 9, 2021

The premise: Nine years into the future, 17-year-old Lisa suddenly decides she doesn’t want to go to college, unsure of what she wants out of her life. This infuriates Marge, who was riding her entire hopes and dreams through her daughter, causing a massive rift between the two that would last for decades.

The reaction: The novelty of these future shows really start to run on empty when you’re going on your eighth one. I honestly don’t remember anything about the last one, which was also focused on Lisa, but this episode feels a bit discouraging because it actually touches on a promising premise: after grade-grubbing and spending her entire childhood studying, Lisa has an internal crisis about what her life is going to be. However, as it’s introduced in the episode, it’s difficult to follow. Lisa complains about how college costs a fortune now (now?) and won’t lead to any jobs, and separately laments about how she missed out on doing anything fun as a kid. These feel like two separate issues: Lisa’s future career prospects vs. actually having fun in life/having friends and relationships. Before she expresses her crisis, she had just rebuffed a promposal from Milhouse, but it’s not like it was specifically triggered by that, but I thought there would be something about how Lisa is crestfallen how she’s made no friends or had no romantic partners through school and regrets it. But hey, you know where you can start over and have a rich social life? College. Anyway, Lisa has gotten into every school and Marge is waiting with bated breath as to which she’ll pick. When Lisa announces she’s not going to college, Marge is pissed, outright telling her daughter she’s rested all her abandoned hopes and dreams on her so you better fucking pick a college, you sniveling ingrate. In three different interactions, Marge comes at Lisa hard about how much she’s sacrificed for her so pick a damn school, rather than, y’know, ask why her daughter feels this way and what’s going on. There’s been plenty (way too many) recent episodes featuring Marge being an irrational bitch toward Lisa, which always feels so incredibly distasteful. Marge is an eternally loving and understanding mother, so seeing her act this way is bizarre to see. So Lisa doesn’t know what to do next, which is fine, but the episode feels like it’s fumbling its way into finding a point. Lisa gets a food service job, and after an interaction with a dullard kid customer, gets the inspiration to start an after-school program to help underprivileged kids. Hey, do you know what might help you get that started? An education degree. We quickly flash forward and see that Lisa’s teachings (Knowledge Minus College) leads to great success, with dozens of schools opening nationwide, with Lisa later becoming superintendent, governor, and finally President. We barely get a scene out of Lisa’s classroom, where she teaches Shakespeare using dances from TikTok, so I really have no idea what I’m supposed to latch onto. Over halfway through the episode, Lisa’s existential ennui is finally solved, she’s interested in education, and then after one minute of screen time, we move through decades into the future, and then it becomes about Lisa and Marge finally making up, with Marge apparently a completely senile old person who didn’t even know her daughter was elected President and still insists she was right that she should have gone to college. The conflict between the two is so completely empty and meaningless that they don’t even make up directly, thanks to a great joke involving a “Mom translator” who “interprets” Marge and Lisa’s remarks back at each other until they hug and that’s the end. This one was a real stinker. It honestly feels like they wanted to do an episode featuring President Lisa after Trump was elected because of the reference in “Bart to the Future” (who is referenced to without naming him as Lisa’s new aide tells her, “Just after you were sworn in, your predecessor finally conceded,”) and then they worked backwards to actually come up with a plot. Maybe they should have worked harder and actually written one.

Three items of note:
– The wrap-around features this future vision being told by magician shop owner Werner Herzog and his mystical tarot cards (hey, remember “Lisa’s Wedding”?) Herzog appeared in an episode last season (or two seasons, I forget), and I gotta say, I have a little difficulty understanding his voice, especially when he’s trying to work his way through some labored joke dialogue.
– There’s been so many future episodes that nothing in these shows really feels fresh anymore. 3D printed pancakes, floating tablets, an antiquated Fruit Ninja reference, the college drones (which I think was in the last future episode), none of it feels like anything new. We see muscular teenage Milhouse, who has shown up before, as well as the ending with Bart and Lisa getting high and having a heart-to-heart on the White House roof, which very much feels lifted from when they got drunk in the treehouse in “Holidays of Future Passed.” We also need to give some kind of excuse for why Maggie doesn’t talk, so they have her communicate through emoticons or something. Why the fuck not just have her talk? At least it would be something different.
– Nate Silver voices himself to smugly poke fun at how absolutely incompetent and shameless he is as a political commentator and it made my skin crawl just a bit. Worst guest appearance since Chrissy Teigen.

14 thoughts on “704. Mother and Child Reunion

  1. This episode was very pointless.

    I don’t get the attitude about having Marge be antagonistic regarding Lisa, considering the conventional logic should be that Marge would at least be respectful towards her daughter and likely have the source of her ire be directed towards her son and husband since they are often doing idiotic things that would test her patience daily. But episodes like “The Marge-ian Chronicles”, “The Girl on the Bus”, and “D’oh Canada” have been written where Marge/Lisa conflict is more fun or easier than Marge/Lisa bonding. It also didn’t help that the whole episode would run with Marge constantly stuck in her ways that Lisa should have gone to school in spite of her success, but I got more to gripe.

    I get college is expensive, but I was able to go to a community college using FAFSA and government grants. The writers likely didn’t do any research into that and assumed the only way you go to school is through crippling student loans like they probably did ‘cuz they are old and jaded, and given Lisa’s intelligence as well as her family’s probable financial problems (hey, the show is flexible with the money situation), she would more than qualify for just about everything needed to pay for tuition.

    How Lisa moves up the ranks feels very slapdash. She gets a job, the job sucks. That’s the message; work sucks. She gets the idea to create a program for underprivileged people, and it somehow succeeds after just one scene. This program explodes. She becomes superintendent cause Superintendent Chalmers is a misogynist. Now she’s governor and we get an extremely long, very unfunny bit with FiveThirtyEight staff. Oh, now she’s president.

    I do agree with the sentiment that they wanted to revisit their “President Trump” joke from “Bart to the Future”, complete with a not-so-subtle comment about Donald Trump not conceding the results. At least they have Bart come out a winner in this episode, establishing himself as a Big Pot executive.

    There were some random continuity nods to other episodes, such as Nelson having fathered twins with Sherri & Terri from “Future-Drama”, and them putting the shape of Springfield’s state as established in “Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington” where it borders Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, and Wyoming (most likely to screw with people, but at this point, you’ve been on for 30+ years, just embrace you’re a fictional universe with a fictional state and that the state actually exists instead of it being nebulous), but I feel like those nods were padding to reward people that pay attention to details instead of building a world. And, the need to keep Maggie mute feels more forced than anything else. Just have Grey Griffin do a quick voice or something.

    TL;DR, this was another “Marge is a bitch” episode.

  2. I like the general concepts of these future episodes because since the characters never age, this allows us a glimpse of what the characters could be like during pivotal times in their lives. So I support these episodes in theory, but they’re never executed well. And, yes, having Maggie actually talk would be a nice change of pace. It was a funny joke when they had her unable to speak in “Lisa’s Wedding,” but at this point, the joke’s been run into the ground by having new ways for her not to speak.

    I can’t say much on this episode in particular since I didn’t watch it and have no intention of doing so. I’ve probably watched about five new episodes of this show in the last five years, since there are so many better options out there.

  3. At this point, why not making Lisa to wish death to Marge? They showed way too many times how Marge wants to manipulate Lisa all the time.

    I dont like Modern Lisa, but at the very least, I can see her disbelief towards her mom. Modern Marge is a bitch.

  4. I don’t know why they keep making these future episodes. It’s impossible to get any emotion out of them since none of this is real and they keep changing the futures of the characters anyway.

    So now, according to the current show, Marge’s character is that she’s one of those bitter talent show moms unhappy with her life and the choices she made and wants to feel like a success through her daughter. When the hell did the staff get such a low opinion of these characters? This is just pathetic.

  5. Blech. What a failure of a future episode. Almost as horrid as “Days of Future Future” from Season 25. Oh look, Jerkass Homer’s wife Jerkass Marge is being a Jerkass to her daughter Liberal Douche Lisa. Hmm… Like last episode, this wouldn’t feel out of place in Season 27 where the episode can hang out with its older friends “Lisa With an ‘S’,” “The Marge-ian Chronicles,” and “How Lisa Got Her Marge Back.”

    “Nate Silver voices himself to smugly poke fun at how absolutely incompetent and shameless he is as a political commentator and it made my skin crawl just a bit.”

    He would guest-voice in Zombie Simpsons, wouldn’t he? Who’s next, Ryan Knight?

  6. Yet another episode where Marge acts cold and vindictive and Lisa is the one who has to reach out and rebuild their relationship.
    I really hate these zombie Marge episodes that turn what was once the heart of the family into someone so worn out that she is just as bad as Homer in an emotionally abusive fashion.
    Also, I guess everyone just gave up on Maggie before age 9 bc they keep hammering that Lisa is literally the only Simpson worth two sh*ts and her not going to college dooms them all.

  7. Y’know, this episode would work better if it were, oh, say, MAGGIE in the role. Reintroduce a character we’ve always seen and show another side to her. But that would be giving the writers too much credit. Even if that would actually give her the opportunity to talk, they’d probably have her conviniently be silent from a botched tonsillectomy or some shit like that.

    Hell, even with Lisa, they could’ve tied that in with some bad memories of that episode where she ACTED like a college student- maybe even reject Milhouse because of that. But again, that would require actual effort, and when your show is owned by the largest media behemoth in the business, effort seems to be on the furthest back burner in favor of getting drunk on wine made of Member Berries.

    1. You don’t know anyone over 40 with some gray in their hair? I’m 45 and completely gray.

      1. It’s an unnecessary design choice. The gray streaks and cardigan make Marge look strangely elderly in that picture while she was in her 20s when she gave birth to Lisa and will only be in her early-to-mid 40s when Lisa is a teenager. It’s like the staff forgot how old Marge is supposed to be. *shrug*

  8. I have to admit I did laugh at the ‘it’s somehow still cool’ joke, when the show itself pointed out in last year’s ‘Highway To Well’ that legalisation has made weed famously uncool.

  9. As someone who dropped out of college during her junior year and lives at home, Marge is the Worst Simpson for riding all her dreams onto Lisa and holy shit do I feel bad for Maggie – do the writers forget she exists when they’re not ignoring she has a future from Lisa’s Wedding?

    1. If the continuity matches, doesn’t Maggie grow up to achieve Lady Gaga levels of fame as a singer? And Marge is still moping around over Lisa’s life choices? God I hate what the writers are doing to what used to be the family’s glue.

  10. The Nate Silver cameo strikes me as so perfect for this era of Simpsons. Goes well with making a Fruit Ninja reference in 2021.

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