Simpsons Did It!: “The Miseducation Of Lisa Simpson”

Were we really expecting this?  The epic origin of the Sea Captain?

Well, we got one.  Decades earlier, in a very Indy-based origin story, we see a young couple in a far away bar in the mountains, each trying to drink the other under the table.  Some Nazis walk in, a fight breaks out, and the couple escape, combining a treasure map that says there’s treasure in Springfield.

40 years later, and the Sea Captain is still looking because the map wasn’t detailed enough.  The young woman is his never-before-seen nagging wife, and when the Captain finally does find the treasure, he learns to his dismay that Mayor Quimby redrew the town’s borders to claim the treasure for the town the night before.  How did he know?  The Captain’s wife, screwing around with the Mayor, told him.

So much for the Sea Captain becoming more than a simple stock character!

Anyway, what to do with the money?  There’s a town meeting with a lot of suggestions, including a Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame that doesn’t include Pearl Jam.  Then Marge has her suggestion:  invest in a STEM school for the children of Springfield, preparing them for a real future.  And to drive it all home, Marge has guest star John Legend there to sing a song in support.  Marge got him because his wife, guest star Chrissy Teigen, will apparently do anything for an Instagram follower.

The song works, the school is approved and Homer asks if Legend has a song to get out of jury duty (he does).

So, a STEM school is built, allowing folks like Principal Skinner and Superintendent Chalmers to retire with their old building shutting down.  There’s a new principal named Zane Furlong (guest star Zach Woods), and the new school appeals impossibly to Bart and Lisa.  Bart gets to perform tasks to unlock online skins and badges while Lisa finally gets into a gifted class.

So, how can this all go wrong?  And not just when Homer learns his job will replace him with a robot within five years, prompting him to try and outpour a robotic soda dispenser?  He doesn’t, and it doesn’t kill him like it did to John Henry, but he did get acclaim from Lenny and Carl while robots took over their real jobs at the nation’s only coal-powered nuclear plant.  And Lenny and Carl weren’t freaking out over robo-placements, especially Carl as he dreams of a Jetsons-like future for himself.

No, the problem is Lisa soon realizes everyone outside the special class she’s in is doing simple repetitive tasks to get them prepped for a gig economy job as opposed to teaching actual real skills.  All that is laid out by an algorithm.  And attempts to get everyone else fired up doesn’t work because Bart recognizes the look she has and he wants to keep the school open.  Why wouldn’t Bart be a better spokesperson for all that?  After all, DJs have gigs!

Well, it comes to a head when Bart and Lisa meet up with Zane and learn what the algorithm says is the only job available in the future, and that does freak out the kids at the new school:  elder care, the one job machines won’t do.  And Milhouse knows the perfect way to express displeasure with any algorithm:  give it a one-star review.

The new school literally collapses, though as Lisa points out, that doesn’t change what jobs will be available in the future in the slightest.  And while Skinner and Chalmers return, there is the slight problem of the old school being a Pearl Jam-free Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame and a fairly popular place to go from the looks of things.

That’s not a bad callback, and kudos for the writers not going the easy way out with Nickleback.

So, that’s that?  Zane is now a food delivery guy, but Lisa points out that the future is always changing, so there’s no way to know what job people will have in the future.

Cut to the future and Bart and Lisa are serving soda to robots, getting whipped when they’re too slow.  That stinks.

Then again, Carl got his dream George Jetson-type job high above the Earth, so it isn’t all bad for everybody.

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