April 19, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Simpsons Did It!: “Pay Pal”

In which Marge worries about Lisa having no friends.

Was there a theme this season for the Simpson children making new friends?  Bart befriended for a single episode a schizophrenic falconry enthusiast.  Lisa, meanwhile, made friends with a politically-conservative girl and a wannabe competitive eater.

Well, let’s do the whole thing with Lisa again.

But first, Marge.

Marge doesn’t really have friends either more often than not.  Sometimes it bothers her.  This episode is one of those times.  At a block party, Marge meets a new neighbor, an Englishman named Booth Wilkes-John (guest star John Oliver).  Booth is hosting an adult game night for couples and asks Marge to come and, yes, she should bring Homer.

Homer tends to ruin things, so Marge grills him heavily on all the things he shouldn’t do so, for once, she and Homer can have some adult couples friends.  And Homer tries really, really hard.  He does!  The party is going well when Booth and his wife bust out some sort of murder mystery roleplaying game, one that will allow Sideshow Mel to show off how humble he can be as a humble farmer and let Chief Wiggum experience actually solving a crime.  Booth has character cards, authentic Victorian-era costumes, and a sound effects guy for a three hour exploration of a deep, dark murder.

Then Homer innocently asks who’s playing the admiral listed on his character card because that guy did it.

Yes, he ruins everything and the Simpsons get tossed out.  And though Marge is furious at first, she comes to accept it.  What’s unacceptable is that Lisa states she’s fine with having no friends.  That worries Marge.

Maybe Marge shouldn’t worry.  The next day at school, for gym class, there’s Square Dancing.  I think I’m with the gym teacher:  that should not be.  But as the boys and girls pair off, Lisa is alone.  Ralph gets someone!  Heck, Database passed out on the floor, and he got a partner too.  But then a girl name Tumi from the other second grade we’ve never heard about before offers to be Lisa’s partner.  And the two hit it off very well.  Tumi enjoys all the same things Lise does, like NPR’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me with guest voices by Carl Kassell and Peter Sagal.

But Bart is a wee bit suspicious.  Nobody like veggie smoothies aside from Lisa!  And nobody likes jazz either, not even the musicians since Bart figures that’s why so many of them did drugs.  As such, he follows Tumi around and gets some photos.  He sells the pictures to Lisa for five dollars and adds some helpful advice once he’s paid:  don’t look at the photos.

Lisa looks anyway.

It turns out Marge was paying Tumi to be Lisa’s friend, and now Lisa is furious at her mother.  Homer, on the other hand, is horrified since that means he’s the smart parent.

Can Marge fix things?  Grampa offers an anecdote where he tells Marge he’s been paying Lenny and Carl since they were in grade school to be Homer’s friend (Barney Homer earned on his own).  Homer actually isn’t that upset, though Grampa takes the whole thing back when Marge leaves the room, saying he wouldn’t pay a dime to keep Homer from being devoured by wild dogs or some such awful thing.  It was truly awful, so I don’t quite remember.  Besides, Lisa realizes she has the power to make her mother cry, and that upsets her so much the two reconcile since they both want the other to be happy, and besides, Lisa figures she’ll make all kinds of outcast and misfit friends once she gets to college.

That’s nice, though it occurs to me Lisa as a child of eight is way more mature than the Lisa we see in various future-set episodes.  Why is that?

Oh, as it stands, Tumi admits she did get to liking Lisa as it was, but Tumi isn’t a vegetarian.  She actually recommends horsemeat, raw like the Japanese enjoy it, and…

Man, Lisa got away from that girl fast…