May 26, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Simpsons Did It!: “Write Off This Episode”

In which Lisa and Marge start a charity but end up fighting over its direction.

I don’t say this very often, but…maybe go along with the title for this episode.  It wasn’t very good.

It started off promisingly enough:  Homer dropped his wedding ring and had to crawl under his house’s crawlspace to find it.  It turned out there were a lot of skunks down there, and while Bart and Lisa were highly amused by Homer’s video call for help, Marge had to get Homer all cleaned up.  Fortunately, she has a method for that involving bay leaves, baking soda, and an old blue-tinted pillow case that, by giving the outfit inside a good shake, can actually clean the worst stains and odors out of Homer’s attire.

Huh.  Why is the pillowcase tinted blue?  Well, Marge says it isn’t because she dyes her hair, I’ll tell you that much.

Anyway, Lisa suggests the two of them set up shop downtown and offer to help the homeless, or unhoused, get their clothes clean and make their lives better.  That actually works, helping Gil get a job and even allowing the Crazy Cat Lady to more coherently than usual lead walking tours of Springfield.  But then the Rich Texan shows up, and he wants to make a donation to their charity so he can write it off his taxes, a word that sounds a lot like “Texas” coming from his mouth, to the point where he sounds like he loves and hates the same thing in a bit I am sure some writer thought was funny.  It isn’t.  The Texan also has his cowboy accountant on hand to get Marge and Lisa’s paperwork done for the Lisa M. Simpson Foundation.  Then he’ll brand it because he’s also a notary.

OK, this seems promising so far.  They can raise money to clean the homeless’s clothes.  What can go wrong? Well, Lisa wants everything done ethically, so that means dropping Marge’s usual brand of baking soda since it uses child labor, even on the board of directors, and while Lisa (with Homer) is going on a long trek up a mountain to a Buddhist monestary to get ethically-sourced baking soda, a much more expensive brand at that, Marge is getting shaken down by the Salvation Army guy until in steps Bernice Hibbert to help.

Now there’s an interesting choice.  Does Bernice have a personality?  She’s been a background character for years, one originally designed to remind the home audience her husband was a Bill Cosby stand-in, but here it comes out that, as a doctor’s wife, she has a lot of experience with foundations.  It’s what she does.  Does she do any charity work?  Nope!  She raises awareness, even getting Marge a fancy office and a lot of endorsement deals, and most tellingly and tempting for Marge, a husband-free bathroom.

Naturally, when Lisa gets back, she isn’t happy because raising awareness isn’t the same as doing actual good.  Especially since the giant blue building with Lisa’s name on it was paid for by Mr. Burns, and Lisa wanted to do things ethically.  Lisa and Marge fight, and eventually, Marge fires Lisa.

Can I just say…if you want to turn me off on an episode, make it one where Lisa fights with one of her parents.  She’s eight years old and incredibly self-righteous.  That is not a good look for a kid.  And it may be worse with Marge because Homer at least will feel guilty afterwards.

Besides, this is where Homer’s experiences finally come in handy to guide one of his children.  If there’s anything he knows about, it’s getting fired, and he can name the stages of firings.  Heck, he was fired again for skipping work to help Lisa find those ingredients, and even Kirk VanHouten can recognize the anger and disappointment of those stages that Homer later says he made up.  The hell…?

Oh, and meanwhile, Marge learns foundations like hers don’t actually help people.  None of the doctor’s spouses on her board of directors know how to do that.  They just raise awareness.

That…is almost deep.

Anyway, Marge and Lisa talk, learn cleaning clothes doesn’t help the unhoused, or homeless, as much as they’d like since Gil is already back on the street, and they decide the only thing to do is dissolve the foundation and let the homeless, or unhoused, live in the foundation building, much to the dismay of all those rich snobs.

Good thing that that cowboy accountant was still there to do some notarizing.

And that was that.  What a ho-hum episode.