July 19, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Simpsons Did It!: “Lisa’s Belly”

In which Marge inadvertently traumatizes Lisa.

Seeing Lisa having issues with one of her parents is not a new thing.

Seeing that Marge is the one that somehow hurt Lisa without trying and Homer has a better grasp on how to fix things on the other hand may be.

Alright, how can Homer of all people do the parenting thing better than Marge when it comes to Lisa?  Sure, Homer probably does OK with Bart and Maggie seems to adore him, but Lisa is the one that Homer generally screws up with the most, only to bond with later.  It’s like their whole thing.

Well, for what it is worth, Homer doesn’t save the day here, so to speak, and the result is actually a fairly emotionally mature episode of television that I did not see coming.  Also, there have been a lot of episodes focused on Marge so far this season.  That’s a little odd.  My understanding, no joke, is that Marge scripts are assigned to new writers to see what they can do with the arguably least funny member of the family.  Did they get a bunch of new writers, or did they realize what I have known for a while that Lisa can be less funny when she goes all preachy as she is sometimes wont to do?

Never mind all that.  There probably wouldn’t be any problems in the first place if Homer hadn’t insisted on a trip to the Action Park-style water park he worked at as a teenager, remembering dangerous attractions with glee until Lisa finds a documentary on the place that shows Homer’s exact same memories are a lot less fun if you swap out the music in his head for the doom-and-gloom stuff in the documentary.  Then again, I didn’t think Homer’s memories looked that good to start, so I may be the wrong person to ask.

Homer also learned the former Riot River is now the Quiet River, the safest possible water park around.  He seems to be the only one who didn’t know about that name change.  Since Homer never allows something like supreme disappointment to ruin his fun, he does find one of the old attractions, long out of use, behind a lot of foliage and convinces Bart and Lisa to ride the slide down with him.  Granted, they had no choice since the ladder that led to the top corroded and fell off after they got up there, but between the low branches and possum families, it actually was quite the ride for the three of them.  Sure, I would worry that some of that water was a little green, and…Bart and Lisa both got sick.  So did Homer, but he got it at work.

Oh, the illness isn’t that bad.  Dr. Hibbert just prescribes some steroids that will cause some temporary weight gain.  Once school starts, because apparently this was a summertime episode, both Bart and Lisa return to the same grades they left behind noticeably heavier than usual.  Bart seems fine with that, but Marge affectionately tells Lisa the girl is a little chunky.

Lisa doesn’t take that very well.  It sticks in her head, clouds her thoughts, makes her supremely self-conscious, and a whole lot of other things that a trip to the mall to do some shopping doesn’t fix.  If anything, it makes it worse when the standard back-to-school clothes don’t fit.  Marge doesn’t know what’s wrong, and Lisa won’t tell her.

So, Homer tries.  Homer actually finds out.  He’s horrified because a parent accidentally told a child exactly what she thought of her kid.  And while Homer isn’t an expert in fixing a little girl’s hurt feelings, he does know someone who is and calls some experts, showing good parenting skills.

The experts are Patty and Selma.  They came to help Lisa or, barring that, to proofread Homer’s suicide note, but Homer doesn’t need that help and Lisa does.

Patty and Selma actually do help Lisa get through thanks to a song parody, but that’s ruined when Marge, again accidentally, tells Lisa that the girl will be back to normal now that the medication is finished.

Wow, Lisa is really hurt by all this, and Marge doesn’t get it.  The two end up doing some hypnotherapy together, Marge sees how hurt Lisa is, and Lisa realizes Grandma Bouvier did the same sort of thing to Marge when Marge was a girl, only Grandma Bouvier was a lot harsher about it.  So, the real lesson here is sometimes parents do that sort of thing without thinking, it (usually) isn’t intentional, and Lisa will gradually let that trauma shrink until, like Marge, she can mostly forget about it and move on.  That’s a fairly emotionally mature lesson for a show like this, and mother and daughter are more or less reconciled.

Oh, as for Bart, he had a much easier time of it.  Sure, the school bullies came to pick on him for his weight gain, but as soon as he used the word “steroids,” they decided he was OK and invited him to their secret weight lifting room.  That worked out in his favor because he enjoyed talking about hypothetical girls with the bullies until they brought actual girls to the secret room, and that was that.

Somehow, I think Bart will also be OK.