"Lisa's Wedding" is the 19th episode of The Simpsons' sixth season, which originally aired March 19, 1995. The plot focuses around Lisa visiting a carnival fortune teller and learning about her future love. It was written by Greg Daniels and directed by Jim Reardon. Mandy Patinkin guest stars as Hugh Parkfield and Phil Hartman guest stars as Troy McClure. The episode won an Emmy Award in 1995 for Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program, becoming the third episode of The Simpsons to win the award.
The episode begins with the Simpson family visiting a renaissance fair. Homer eats eight different kinds of meat, and an embarrassed Lisa wanders off and eventually finds a fortune telling booth. Although Lisa is at first skeptical, the fortune teller gets her attention by telling Lisa the names of everyone in her family. She then uses tarot cards to predict Lisa's future, and says she will tell Lisa the story of her true love.
The story then shifts to an Eastern University in 2010 (at the time of the episode's broadcast, fifteen years in the future) where a now 23-year-old Lisa meets a British student named Hugh Parkfield. At first, the two quarrel over a book in the library and their respective academic talents, but the pair eventually fall madly in love. Hugh invites Lisa to come back to his home in Great Britain so she can meet his parents. While there, Hugh asks Lisa to marry him; she immediately accepts.
The next day, Lisa calls home to tell Marge of the news; Marge promises that she will prevent Homer from ruining the wedding. Marge is still a housewife, Bart (now 25) works as a successful building demolition expert, Maggie is a teenager who wears a necklace with her pacifier attached and apparently never shuts up (although each time she opens her mouth in the episode, she is interrupted) and Homer still works at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant in Sector 7G, with Milhouse as his supervisor. Lisa and Hugh travel to Springfield, where Lisa is worried that her family will embarrass her. Things get off to a bad start when Bart and Homer accidentally set the British flag on fire, which they extinguish by throwing it on the ground and pouring compost on it.
At dinner, Lisa plans on going for a wedding dress fitting and Homer decides to take Hugh out to Moe's Tavern. While there, Homer presents Hugh with a pair of cuff links (a bride and groom pig) that all Simpsons men have worn on their wedding day, asking him to continue the tradition; Hugh reluctantly agrees to wear them during the wedding. Later that night, Lisa apologizes profusely for her family's behavior; although Hugh says it does not bother him, he appears worried. On the day of the wedding, Homer talks with Lisa and she discovers that Hugh did not wear Homer's cufflinks. She finds Hugh and asks him to wear them. He agrees. The only condition however, is that after the wedding Lisa must leave her family behind because Hugh has felt embarrassed by them along. Lisa is outraged, stating that she cannot marry him if he cannot understand that she still loves her family despite their shortcomings, and calls off the wedding, running off in anger and sorrow.
Back in the present, the fortune teller says that Hugh went back to Britain and never saw Lisa again, and that there is nothing Lisa can do to prevent it—although she should "try to look surprised". Lisa questions the fortune teller about her "true love" and the fortune teller reveals that although Lisa will have a true love, she "specializes in foretelling relationships where you get jerked around." Lisa leaves the booth and finds her father, who is excited to tell her about his day at the fair. They walk off, hand in hand, as Lisa listens, happy and content.
The idea for the episode came from James L. Brooks, who called David Mirkin and pitched the idea as traveling to the future and Lisa meeting the perfect guy, who in turn cannot stand her family. Believing that it would be a tough episode to write, Brooks gave the job to Greg Daniels, who was enthusiastic about it and has said that was a lot easier and more fun to write than expected. The part involving Homer's cuff links was not in the original draft, it was later added because the writers felt that something was needed to represent Hugh's disdain for the Simpson family. The end theme was redone by Alf Clausen as a "Renaissance version", including a harp.
Everything in the episode had to be redesigned, which included new sets and all of the characters had to be remodeled for their age. In most cases, the adults were made heavier, had a few lines added to the face and less hair. On Homer, the redesign was minimal, making him a bit heavier, removing one hair and placing an extra line under the eye. Krusty's design is based on Groucho Marx. The night sky was intentionally made a more reddish color in a subtle joke about how the producers thought the world would be much more polluted in 2010. Nancy Cartwright's Bart voice was electronically lowered a couple of notches.
This is the first of four future-themed episodes. The others were "Bart to the Future" in season 11, "Future-Drama" in season 16 and "Holidays of Future Passed" from season 23. While both "Lisa's Wedding" and "Future-Drama" were nominated for an Emmy, in 2003 Entertainment Weekly named "Bart to the Future" the worst episode in the history of the series.
The episode makes mention of "40 classic films starring Jim Carrey", which include The Mask and "Ace Ventura VI". According to David Mirkin, this is a joke about how "huge" Carrey's movies were at the time, and how he was not garnering much respect as an actor. The sounds of the car are the same as the ones used in The Jetsons. Wrist communicators are using same sounds as communicators in Star Trek. In this episode's version of the future, apparently three of the major American television networks have been bought by ABC and merged into CNNBCBS. At the same time, Fox has gradually become a hardcore sex channel. Hugh Parkfield is a parody of English actor Hugh Grant. The beginning of Lisa and Hugh's romance is similar to the one in Love Story. Martin Prince's fate is a parody of The Phantom of the Opera. The song that he plays on the organ is a variation of "A Fifth of Beethoven" by Walter Murphy, a disco version of Beethoven's "Symphony No. 5" in C Minor.
Reception and legacy
In its original broadcast, "Lisa's Wedding" finished 52nd in ratings for the week of March 13–19, 1995, with a Nielsen rating of 9.1, equivalent to approximately 8.7 million viewing households. It was the third highest-rated show on the Fox network that week, following Beverly Hills, 90210 and Melrose Place.
"Lisa's Wedding" won an Emmy Award in 1995 for Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program, becoming the third episode of The Simpsons to win in the category. This episode is a favorite of James L. Brooks, who believes that it is one of the best written episodes and ranks near the top of Simpsons episodes. The emotion of "Lisa's Wedding" is often compared with season 2's "Lisa's Substitute". The Quindecim, a college newspaper, made their own top 25 list, ranking "Lisa's Wedding" as the greatest episode of The Simpsons. They also criticised Entertainment Weekly for leaving this episode and "Lisa's Substitute" off their top 25 list, saying it was the "equivalent of leaving the Sistine Chapel off a list of Michelangelo's best work ... Serving well as bookends, these episodes are not only brilliantly funny, they're among the most genuinely touching stories in the show's entire run."
Mandy Patinkin as Hugh is considered one of the best Simpsons guest spots by Chris Turner in his book Planet Simpson, who says that many of the best Simpsons guest stars have been lesser known celebrities. In a 2008 article, Entertainment Weekly named Patinkin one of the 16 best Simpsons guest stars. The Daily Telegraph characterized the episode as one of "The 10 Best Simpsons TV Episodes."
On August 1, 2010, the day of Lisa's wedding in the episode, the name "Lisa Simpson" was a trending topic on Twitter, a microblogging website. Most of the Twitter users that tweeted her name wished her a happy wedding day.
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- "Lisa's Wedding" at The Simpsons.com
- "Lisa's Wedding" episode capsule at The Simpsons Archive
- "Lisa's Wedding" at TV.com
- "Lisa's Wedding" at the Internet Movie Database
- "Lisa's Wedding" at BBC.co.uk, including a list of "celebrities who were arrested."