Girls Just Want to Have Sums

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"Girls Just Want To Have Sums"
The Simpsons episode
Girls Just Want to Have Sums.png
Promotional Artwork for "Girls Just Want To Have Sums".
Episode no. 375
Production code HABF12
Original air date April 30, 2006
Showrunner(s) Al Jean
Written by Matt Selman
Directed by Nancy Kruse
Couch gag The living room is dark, with many eyes present. The lights go up, and many secondary characters appear behind a banner that reads, “Surprise!” The Simpsons come in and the characters yell, “SURPRISE!” Homer is so overwhelmed with shock, he has a heart attack and collapses.
Guest star(s) Frances McDormand as Melanie Upfoot

“Girls Just Want to Have Sums” is the nineteenth episode of the seventeenth season of The Simpsons. It originally aired on April 30, 2006.

Plot[edit]

The Simpsons and many other prominent Springfieldians go to see a performance of Stab-A-Lot: The Itchy & Scratchy Musical. The show features the cat and felicidal mouse doing what they do best, but all in song. The audience is enthralled by the performance and give it a standing ovation. Juliana, the director, comes out on stage, accompanied by Principal Skinner, to acknowledge the cheers. Skinner reveals that Juliana Krellener used to be a student of Springfield Elementary School and "always got straight A's!" Juliana smiles and notes she did get a B or two in math, and Skinner responds: "Well, of course you did—I mean, you are a girl!". Everyone is shocked at the sexist remark. Skinner’s attempts to defend himself just worsens the situation (he notes that boys seem to do better than girls in what he refers to as "the real subjects"), and he ends up being kicked in the crotch by the puppeteer-controlled Itchy and Scratchy characters.

The next day, the teachers of Springfield Elementary and other ladies stage a protest outside the school against Skinner, much to the displeasure of Superintendent Chalmers. Skinner assures him that he will take care of it and holds a conference in the school’s auditorium, inviting all the protesting ladies to attend. There, he tries to pacify them by wearing a skirt and saying that men and women are equal but not identical. Nothing he says has a good effect on the ladies, so finally he has a nervous breakdown onstage. Chalmers comes out and introduces them to their new principal — female principal, that is. As her first act as principal, Melanie Upfoot separates the boys and girls into separate schools. The move is met with mixed reactions, not least because the all-boy school still has to take ballroom dancing.

The next day, Otto drops off the girls at their school, and then drives a few feet ahead and releases the boys from their cage in the bus, so they can attend their school. Lisa seems to feel right at home in the girl-friendly school, with the fountains, paintings by female artists, pink paint and all. She attends her first-period math class, taught by the new principal, but instead of usual number-crunching, she starts speaking about feelings and smell in math. While the other girls enjoy it, Lisa asks whether they will get down to doing problems, to which the principal replies that problems are how boys look at math. Disillusioned by this “pro-female” (and illogical) bias toward her favorite subject, as the remainder of her class sings along with the teacher, Lisa climbs over the wall into the boys’ school compound — a rundown, desolate, dystopian world plagued by stray wolves, graffitied walls, garbage, and rusted cars. She peeps into one of the classrooms and sees a math class in session, where actual, accurate math is being taught exactly how she likes it, even coming up with the answer "He forgot the volume of the carrot nose, 1/3 base times height" when none of the other boys did. She is caught by Skinner, now an assistant to Groundskeeper Willie, and ordered to leave at once. Lisa asks him why she cannot study normal math, but Skinner is too brainwashed by supposed political correctness to answer her. Willie then orders Skinner to poison the squirrels, but the squirrels team up and poison Skinner.

With the help of Marge, she disguises herself as a boy (with many interests that include the word "boy" in it) named “Jake Boyman” (though the boys quickly nickname her “Toilet” due to some toilet paper being stuck to her shoe) and attends the boys’ school. During the math class, she is beaten by Martin, but she feels happy to have learned something. Unfortunately, being with the boys means having to act like one and, during lunch, Lisa inadvertently gets into a fight with Nelson. Despite her efforts to use her intelligence to escape her situation, she gets beaten up. When Bart returns home that day, happy to have seen a fight and runs upstairs to tell Lisa. To his shock, he finds her sobbing silently in her room, still dressed as Jake. When Bart asks her if she told their mother about her being beaten up, she responds that she fears that Marge will not allow her back to the boys’ school. Bart feels sorry for Lisa, as he does not think anyone should be forced to be a girl if they have a choice, and tells her that he will teach her to act like a boy.

Thanks to Bart’s help, Lisa begins to pick up the code of the boys, including eating French fries that fell onto a dirty restaurant floor and beating up a defenseless Ralph Wiggum; this last act wins over Nelson and the others and "Jake Boyman" becomes an accepted part of their cruel and violent world. However, Lisa does well in math class, and at an awards ceremony is recognized for her outstanding performance in math. She then reveals her true identity to the whole school, and she explains why she had to disguise herself. Bart gets up and tells everyone that she did well only because she was acting like a boy. Angry at hearing this, she throws her award at Bart, but when he ducks aside, Lisa ends up hitting Ralph again. Not seeing how “boy-like” she has become, she adds that she is happy to be both a girl and good at math, then hits Martin Prince in the head with a folding chair to shut him up when he comes onstage to sing.

A subplot of the episode involves Homer and Marge's relationship where, in the next morning after the incident, Marge tries to cheer Lisa up by pointing out the contributions of the women to society, but when Homer and Bart interfere with the conversation remarking that the men are more important than women, Marge retaliated by forcing Homer to sleep on the couch. The next night, Homer tries to apologise for his sexism, but lacks both intellect while sensibility to this and is once again forced to sleep at the couch. When Homer tries to get comfort from Santa's Little Helper, he unwittingly insults him by claiming that he is dumber than he himself, the offended dog kicks Homer out of the house and forces him to sleep at his dog-house, where Homer wonders what he did to deserve these punishments.

Cultural references[edit]

  • The title is a play on the title of the song “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”, by Cyndi Lauper.
  • The Broadway version of The Lion King is parodied by the Itchy and Scratchy Musical, Stab-a-Lot, even to the point that the musical uses puppets (and puppeteers) that are exactly like the Timon puppet used. Its title is a parody of Spamalot, of which Simpsons voice actor Hank Azaria was a cast member. The song “It’s Symbiotic” is a parody of the song “I Don't Know How to Love Him” from Jesus Christ Superstar and the song "The Circle of Knife" is a parody on "Circle of Life" in The Lion King. The name of the director, Julianna, is a reference to Julie Taymor, the director of the Broadway musical, known for her stunning visuals and use of puppetry.
  • Homer says that the book was written by Tom Stoppard, a playwright famous for absurdism, abstract thought and philosophy.
  • The controversy regarding Skinner's statements may be based on that surrounding former President of Harvard University Lawrence Summers.
  • The song that Otto plays after he lets the girls off is “Breaking the Law” by Judas Priest.
  • The song that Martin plays and continues playing at the end credits is "Thick as a Brick" by Jethro Tull.
  • The play that Dolph refers to when he realizes Lisa posed as a boy to study more difficult material is Yentl. ("We've been Yentl'd!"). Yentl was also made into a film in 1983, starring Barbra Streisand about a bookish young woman who poses as a man to enter rabbinical school. Yentl was mentioned earlier on the season four episode "Selma's Choice" as one of the videos Marge rents while Homer is sick from food poisoning.
  • In the girls’ section of the elementary school, paintings by Henri Matisse, Frida Kahlo and Georgia O'Keeffe hang on the walls, joined in juxtaposition by a Cathy cartoon.
  • In the Springfield Theater District there is a musical entitled $$$ starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, a reference to The Producers, which broke various theater box office records during its run on Broadway.
  • The title of One Guy Named Moe is a parody of a Broadway comedy from the late 1980s called Five Guys Named Moe.
  • The song played during a montage of Lisa doing well in the boys school is The Waitresses’ "I Know What Boys Like".
  • When Lisa enters the boy's schoolyard, the Scarface theme is playing.

Awards[edit]

This episode was nominated for a Writers Guild of America award in 2007.

See also[edit]