It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marge
"It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marge" is the twenty-first episode of The Simpsons eleventh season. It first aired in the United States on the Fox network on May 14, 2000. After a failed marriage attempt with Otto, Becky (played by guest actress Parker Posey) stays with the Simpson family. However, Marge begins to get paranoid at her family's newfound love of Becky, and begins to think that she is seducing Homer.
The episode was directed by Steven Dean Moore and written by Larry Doyle. Doyle was assigned to write the episode based on actress Drew Barrymore's desire to appear in a Simpsons episode; Barrymore instead appeared in a later episode and the guest role of this episode was given to Posey. The episode is notable for its poor reception among fans.
Each student in Bart's class is given a video camera for a school project to create a movie. Otto drives the school bus to a drive-through restaurant where his girlfriend, Becky, works. Otto proposes to her, and she accepts. On Bart’s suggestion, they decide to have the wedding at the Simpson house and sends out flyers. Marge reluctantly agrees, since she still has everything from Apu's wedding. The wedding is a success up until the point when Otto gets a Poison tribute band (called Cyanide) to play "Nothin' but a Good Time". Becky admits to Marge that she hates heavy metal music. At the wedding, Marge suggests to Becky that she gives Otto an ultimatum: it is either her or heavy metal. Otto chooses heavy metal and breaks up with Becky.
Becky stays with the Simpson family on Bart's suggestion. Marge consoles her, but when Becky begins to help out around the house and is praised for her contribution, Marge begins to worry that her family likes Becky more than her. Eventually, she becomes paranoid and suspects that Becky is trying to kill her after her car will not stop on a steep road. Later, Becky and the rest of the family meet without Marge at an ice cream parlour, and Becky tells everyone that she has found a new apartment and is moving out. After she buys an unusually large bowl of ice cream, Homer freaks out upon the presence of so much ice cream and suddenly collapses. Becky gives him mouth-to-mouth but Marge comes in thinking she is kissing him. She grabs a cone and smashes it like a glass bottle to attack Becky. She is arrested and declared insane.
When Marge escapes from the courtroom and goes to the library to see who Becky really is, she realizes that she is insane and being unfair to Becky, after finding nothing bad about her and a newspaper tablet of how Marge ruined Becky's marriage. Finally, she returns home, only to find Homer tied up, Lisa's arms and legs stuck to the wall, Maggie stuck in a cage, and Becky holding a knife in her hands. When she is about to "kill" Homer, Marge snatches the knife from her and attempts to strangle her. It turns out that Bart is filming a scene in his movie for the school (now a music video). Homer also reveals that while he was fixing Marge's car, he accidentally drained the brake fluid. Marge apologizes to Becky, but Becky admits she was going to kill Marge and steal her family, but decided not to after she had no shovel. Suddenly the mental hospital doctors show up and shoot three tranquilizer darts into Marge's neck, which do not take effect. Marge tells them that she has too much to do to take a nap, Marge instructs Lisa to take Maggie out of the cage and tells Homer that she has some S&M for him which is scrubbing and mopping since he dressed for the job anyway. As Marge giggles Homer fires a dart borrowed from the doctor into Marge which sends her straight to sleep.
The writers of The Simpsons were told that actress Drew Barrymore wanted to guest star in the series and pitched several possible episodes for her. These included what became the plot of this episode, with Barrymore voicing Becky, as well as another which would see her voice Krusty the Clown's daughter. The latter idea was used for the season twelve episode "Insane Clown Poppy", with Barrymore appearing as Krusty's daughter. American actress Parker Posey was selected to voice Becky instead. Larry Doyle wrote the episode's script and named Becky after his wife.
Posey came in for at least two or three sessions worth of recording. For Cyanide, the Poison tribute band, the producers unsuccessfully attempted to get Poison lead vocalist Bret Michaels to play the singer. Marc Wilmore, a writer on the show, voices one of the psychologists, formally known in the script as "Extra Guy". Scully gave the guest role to him as a thanks for his practical joke he played on fellow writer Matt Selman regarding East St. Louis and the season ten episode "They Saved Lisa's Brain". The producers got a censor note for the scene where Chief Wiggum teachers Ralph how to hold a gun in order to achieve a "kill shot".
Steven Dean Moore directed the episode. The episode's couch gag involves Korean animators coloring blank paint-by-numbers figures of The Simpsons; these caricatures are based on Korean animators who worked in the United States at Film Roman, the show's animation production company. The jimmies that Marge throws at the busboys are all variations of the character design that was used for the Squeaky Voiced Teen since the series' inception. At the time, the Simpsons writers thought the word "usurper" was funny, hence its numerous appearances in the episode. Selman, in the episode's audio commentary, recalled that it was hard to write so many misunderstandings; Scully commented, "It gives us a new appreciation for Three's Company."
"It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marge" features several references to popular culture. In the episode, Otto meets Becky at Woodstock 1999, where he is on fire and the fire is put out by the water in her water bottle. This was a reference to a controversy about the high cost of water at the festival, and Otto on fire references the large number of fires that occurred. Otto holds up a boombox and blares Poison's "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" whilst proposing to Becky. When Otto plays air guitar, it is completely accurate fingering: John Achenbach, a storyboard artist on the show, is an accomplished guitarist and provided demonstrations for the animators. When Krusty interviews Marge, it is a television static image of her face with an impersonator's lips in place of hers; this was an homage to a recurring skit from the show Late Night with Conan O'Brien in which Robert Smigel's lips would be placed on Bill Clinton's, or other celebrities. The idea was created by former The Simpsons writer Brent Forrester, who, in the early days of Late Night, sent the joke to Conan O'Brien, also a former The Simpsons writer. Patty and Selma's line "the bitterness is strong in this one," is a reference to Darth Vader's line "the Force is strong in this one" from the film Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977).
The episode originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on May 14, 2000. On October 7, 2008, it was released on DVD as part of the box set The Simpsons – The Complete Eleventh Season. Staff members Mike Scully, George Meyer, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Matt Selman, Larry Doyle, and Steven Dean Moore participated in the DVD audio commentary for the episode. Deleted scenes from the episode were also included on the box set. According to the participants in the audio commentary, the episode received poor reception from fans of the series. While reviewing the eleventh season of The Simpsons, DVD Movie Guide's Colin Jacobson commented that "Unusually, 'Mad' provides a pretty concise focus on only one story. The lead bit with Otto directly leads to the Marge plot, and it doesn’t go off on the usual tangents [...] And it works pretty well. 'Mad' isn’t the most inspired tale, but it does fine for itself."
- Scully, Mike (2008). Commentary for "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marge", in The Simpsons: The Eleventh Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- Doyle, Larry (2008). Commentary for "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marge", in The Simpsons: The Eleventh Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- Selman, Matt (2008). Commentary for "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marge", in The Simpsons: The Eleventh Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- Meyer, George (2008). Commentary for "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marge", in The Simpsons: The Eleventh Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- Moore, Steven Dean (2008). Commentary for "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marge", in The Simpsons: The Eleventh Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- Graham, Ian Maxtone (2008). Commentary for "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marge", in The Simpsons: The Eleventh Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- Chernoff, Scott (2007-07-24). "I Bent My Wookiee! Celebrating the Star Wars/Simpsons Connection". StarWars.com. Archived from the original on 2009-02-05. Retrieved 2011-08-28.
- "The Simpsons Episode: 'Last Tap Dance in Springfield'". TV Guide. Retrieved 2011-10-08.
- Jacobson, Colin (2008-11-19). "The Simpsons: The Complete Eleventh Season (1999)". DVD Movie Guide. Retrieved 2011-10-02.
- Jane, Ian (2008-11-01). "The Simpsons - The Complete Eleventh Season". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2011-10-02.
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- "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marge" at The Simpsons.com
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- "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marge" at the Internet Movie Database