February 9, 2023

Gabbing Geek

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Simpsons Did It!: “Bart Vs. Itchy & Scratchy”

In which Bart finds something he likes about feminism.

So, this episode of The Simpsons is the Simpsons debut for writer Megan Amram, a writer who has worked on such shows as The Good Place and Parks and Recreation.

And, golly, it’s actually a fairly funny episode.

We start our story at Krusty Con…that sounds awful…but the Simpson family always has to start somewhere, so here we are.  And at Krusty’s personal Q&A session, he has an announcement that causes both Bart and Lisa to exclaim the same thing but in different tones.  What is it?  Itchy and Scratchy are now…girls.

Mostly this means they’re wearing dresses and have make-up on and some other obviously superficial features.  Krusty explains that girls tend to stay loyal longer or something, so now the cat and mouse are female.  Bart, of course, doesn’t take too kindly to this while Lisa is delighted.  In fact, Bart is so disgusted, he opts to instead of hate-watching it to hate-not-watch it and invites a lot of his male classmates over to likewise not watch it.

Problem for Bart:  he overhears the show from upstairs in his house and goes to investigate, finding Lisa not only watching the new version of the old show, but also taping herself for a live reaction video.  Oh, and Bart sees that it’s like every other Itchy & Scratchy cartoon he’s ever seen and it’s funny.  He laughs.  How can Bart face his friends after watching the thing he said he’d never watch?

Solution for Bart:  lie like crazy.

Problem for Lisa:  she doesn’t like Bart’s lies.

Solution for Lisa:  upload Bart laughing at the cartoon to the Internet.

And somehow, that gets Bart noticed by Homer.  How?  He saw Bart’s reaction on a Tosh.0 parody, and that’s some timely parody work.  Point is, now everybody knows.  And that means trouble at school where his friends are so mad at him for betraying his own wang or something, he has to hide, finally coming to stop in a girl’s bathroom where he finds three sixth grade girls.  These are bad girls, but also political activist type girls, voiced by guest stars Nicole Byer, Chelsea Peretti, and Awkwafina.  Do these characters have names?  I guess.  I don’t remember them using names.  But they’re rough, bigger than Bart, and ready to rumble.  Bart, however, is delighted because they pull pranks.  And he gets an in first by proving he is El Barto (not some girl in another class as popularly assumed) and with a suggestion that the girls who call themselves Bossy Riot can spray paint Skinner’s whole office very quickly with Groundskeeper Willie’s leaf blower.  Plus, Bart knows both Skinner and Willie’s schedules and has keys to Willie’s shed.

Why do the girls want to spray paint Skinner’s office?  Because he banned sandals.  Duh.

What does Skinner do when he sees his office is now pink aside from a message about the sandal ban?  Well, he won’t negotiate with terrorists.  He’ll just capitulate.

Is Bart in Bossy Riot now?  Not quite.  First, he’s told, he needs to prove his worth by steeling Skinner’s cell phone.  Bart already has two in the form of Skinner’s professional and personal phones.  He’s in.

And while Bart finds a new group to spend time with and cause mischief all over town, Milhouse finds himself now the leader of the boys.  He forms a group to fight for boy rights, the Boys Rights Association, or BRA.  And given he now has friends…that really turns Luann on for some reason.  Kirk got some as a result.

Now, you might be wondering how well Lisa would take it if she found out Bart was running around with some feminist activists.  Would Bart tell her?  Only if it would somehow personally destroy her.  Since it does, he gladly tells her.  And that leads to an argument over whether or not Bart even has the right to run with Bossy Riot since, you know, he doesn’t seem to actually agree with their ideals.  Heck, Bart doesn’t even seem to really know what their ideals are.  He compares them to Boba Fett which gets snorted at by Homer because Homer is less impressed by all things Boba Fett than Bart is, and that just demonstrates how all arguments on feminism in the Simpson house somehow turn into a Star Wars debate.

However, Bart’s time with the girls comes to an abrupt end when it comes out Krusty, under pressure from Milhouse’s activist group, is switching Itchy and Scratchy back to presumably male cartoon characters.  That means the girls are going to destroy all the old cartoons live on TV, and that’s a bridge too far for Bart.  But there are three of them, one of him, and they’re each bigger than Bart is.  He’s tied up and left in the Home Ec room.  Fortunately, Lisa was working on a comeback for Bart’s taunts and that can take her a while, but she did find him and she finds the cartoon destruction as distasteful as Bart does, so the two race off to stop Bossy Riot before Lisa can even get Bart untied from that dressmaker’s dummy he was tied to.

So, does Bossy Riot destroy the cartoons by dropping them into a vat of nail polish remover?  Well, not for lack of trying.  Krusty doesn’t blink when he sees them because he figures the studio backed all those cartoons up ages ago…then learns they didn’t.  But Lisa and Bart arrive fast enough to give the vat a good shove into the audience for Krusty’s show, full of Milhouse’s BRA group, and the fumes cause all the boys’ eyes to water, and a little glitter makes their tears glisten pink and purple under their eyes for Bossy Riot to photograph, satisfying the girls’ need for activist type protest.  Milhouse gets blamed, so he’s done as leader, and Bart learns Bossy Riot only kept him around to leave DNA at the site of their various crimes.  Lisa can join if she wants to, of course, after the girls evade Chief Wiggum and even get an offer for a babysitting job.  Bart might have learned something since he spray paints an anti-patriarchy message on a wall, but once back with his friends, he reveals the one thing he really learned while on the inside.

Girls don’t envy them.

That probably hits the boys harder than giving Itchy and Scratchy boobs.

So, yeah, I liked this one.  Let this Megan Amram write some more episodes!

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