Milhouse Van Houten
|The Simpsons character|
|Milhouse Van Houten|
|Job||Student at Springfield Elementary School|
|Relatives||Parents: Kirk and Luann
Paternal Relatives: Norbert "Zack" Van Houten (uncle)
|Voice actor||Pamela Hayden
Hank Azaria ("Hardly Kirk-ing")
|The Simpsons||"Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire"|
Milhouse Mussolini Van Houten is a fictional character featured in the animated television series The Simpsons, voiced by Pamela Hayden. He is Bart Simpson's best friend in Mrs. Krabappel's fourth grade class at Springfield Elementary School. He is smart and loyal, but insecure and very gullible, as well as less popular than Bart. He is consistently led into trouble by Bart, who is not shy about taking advantage of his friend's naïve and trusting nature. Milhouse is also a regular target for school bullies Nelson Muntz and Dolph, Jimbo and Kearney. Milhouse is one of the few residents in Springfield with visible, in fact rather thick, eyebrows.
Milhouse is of Dutch and Danish descent on his father's side ("Little Orphan Millie"), and Italian and Greek on his mother's side. He has his mother's coloring, but none of her confidence. He has his father's facial features, as well as his father's disappointment, insecurity, and generally depressed demeanor. Milhouse is constantly bullied by Nelson Muntz, Jimbo Jones, Dolph Starbeam, and Kearney Zzyzwicz, to the point of where Bart questions Milhouse by saying "Milhouse! I thought you had a three o'clock wedgie with Nelson", to which Milhouse casually responds "I had to reschedule." They often inflict violence upon Milhouse, who is believed to be a nerd or a geek of some sort. He wears thick eyeglasses and cannot see without them.
In "Sideshow Bob Roberts", the schoolyard bullies wrapped Milhouse in bumper stickers and placed him in a shopping cart. After Jimbo claimed that "the mummy's ready for his mystical journey!", the bullies pushed the cart with Milhouse down a very steep hill. He is harmed frequently, and on some occasions is injured by dangerous hazards, e.g., being run over by a train, falling down a waterfall, being electrically shocked, having his head polished to bone, having his teeth knocked out by a hockey puck, but, as a lead character, always survives, like Homer Simpson. In "Homer Loves Flanders", Mr. Burns has Milhouse crippled to inspire the local football team[clarification needed] by vowing that Milhouse will be harmed more if the team loses. He frequently visited a female psychiatrist until she got so fed up with him that she blocked his number. In "Bye Bye Nerdie", it is implied that Milhouse endured bullying so severe on his first day at Springfield Elementary, that he has to take medication to suppress memories of the incident.
On one occasion, Bart got Milhouse placed on the FBI's Most Wanted List even though they are friends, and also tried to lure Milhouse into a cactus. Milhouse is not always Bart's toy; in "Bart Sells His Soul", Milhouse plays with Bart's anxiety while his pal is fretting to recover his soul. Once, Bart introduced Milhouse to his girlfriend and had to explain why he and Milhouse are friends, but could not come up with a good answer and admitted it is due to geographical convenience. Bart did admit in "Little Orphan Millie" that he loves Milhouse. Bart's father, Homer, enjoys joining in on his son's torment of Milhouse (once referring to him as "that little wiener Milhouse"). In the episode "Burns, Baby Burns", Larry, Mr. Burns' son, brings Homer to eat at his house. Mr. Burns asks Homer if his son "brings home nitwits and make you talk to them", to which Homer answers "Oh, all the time! Have you ever heard of this kid Milhouse? He's a little wiener who..." before being interrupted by Burns. In an attempt to purposefully enrage his father, Bart once stated that he felt "a little attracted to Milhouse", sending Homer into a rage. Bart and Milhouse appear to be the same height but in the episode "Radioactive Man" it is revealed that Milhouse is at least an inch taller than Bart.
He is frequently the butt of a variety of jokes, ranging from being beat up by Nelson for delivering a love note from Lisa (that Nelson thought was from Milhouse himself), to having the door slammed in his face while playing Pin the Tail on the Donkey, to having his possible budding homosexuality given away by his school counselor to Homer and Marge by accidentally picking up the wrong folder while discussing Bart, to making him a wanted fugitive (see above), to inadvertently inheriting Bart's dismal permanent record at school through a side deal arranged between Bart, Edna Krabappel and Principal Skinner, which will disqualify Milhouse from "all but the hottest and noisiest jobs".
He is fluent in Italian ("The Last of the Red Hat Mamas") due to visiting his English language-hating maternal grandmother, Sofia, in Tuscany for two weeks every year. She beat him whenever he spoke English, thus he was forced to learn Italian (and started to wet his bed) that summer. He helps Lisa learn Italian, but there is no reference to his Italian background or language skills in any other episode. Milhouses' personality drastically changes when speaking Italian, becoming a suave, confident ladies man popular with Springfield's Italian community, this persona is only seen in one episode, but Bart's lack of surprise at his friends' personality shift suggests he often behaves this way.
The shows' opening sequence, and various scenes of band practice suggests that Milhouse plays a brass or woodwind instrument, possibly clarinet or trumpet, but it has been noted that all members of the Springfield Elementary band besides Lisa are very poor performers.
Milhouse harbors a hopeless crush on Bart's younger sister, Lisa, but is clumsy around females. Although he and Lisa do not have a full relationship together, they are close friends, as shown in "Lisa's Date with Density", when she admits she liked Nelson. At the end of that episode, after she has stopped liking Nelson, Milhouse asks Lisa who will be her next crush; Lisa answers that it could be anybody and Milhouse rejoices. Milhouse's feelings for Lisa have been used in episodes set outside of the show's main storyline. For example, the episode "Lisa's Wedding" shows what the future might hold for Springfield in fifteen years' time. Milhouse is Homer's boss at the nuclear plant, and after learning of Lisa's impending marriage, Milhouse recalls an earlier date with Lisa in which she said she might never marry, then angrily prepares Homer's annual review. Later in the episode, Lisa wonders if it is acceptable to wear a white wedding dress, suggesting that she had already lost her virginity; Marge, her mother, tells her "Milhouse doesn't count." In the 2011 future episode "Holidays of Future Passed", Lisa and Milhouse are married and have one daughter, Zia.
Lisa has always opposed the idea of going out with Milhouse (i.e., "Lisa's Date With Density" and "Future-Drama"), however after Milhouse starts tutoring Lisa in Italian and takes her to Springfield's Little Italy, she begins to develop a secret crush on him, until she caught Milhouse with a girl named Angelica in the episode "The Last of the Red Hat Mamas", and began hitting him and cursing in Italian just like his grandmother had done. Milhouse's first girlfriend was Samantha Stanky, a new student who had moved to Springfield from Phoenix, Arizona in the episode "Bart's Friend Falls in Love". After her father caught her and Milhouse kissing, he sent her to a Catholic girls' school run by French-Canadian nuns. While Milhouse's official first kiss was with Samantha Stanky in the aforementioned episode, it was contradicted in the episode "The Way We Weren't", where Milhouse accidentally kisses Homer Simpson during a game of spin the bottle that Homer interrupted. In the episode "Homer Scissorhands", Milhouse dated a 5th grader, Taffy. The relationship ended when Milhouse and Taffy caught Lisa spying on them in the bushes. Taffy told Lisa that Milhouse still loves her, and Lisa then kissed Milhouse. Lisa then told Milhouse he should not give up searching for other girls and that life has unexpected things to offer. She told him he is cute in the moonlight, which caused him to fall off a cliff, but a bald eagle caught him, which left him saying "everything is coming up Milhouse."
Milhouse was designed by Matt Groening for a Butterfinger commercial, and it was decided to use the character in the series. Milhouse was named after U.S. President Richard Nixon, whose middle name was Milhous. The name was the most "unfortunate name Matt Groening could think of for a kid". Years earlier, in a 1986 Life in Hell comic entitled "What to Name the Baby", Groening listed Milhous as a name "no longer recommended". Milhouse is a favorite among the staff as Al Jean noted "most of the writers are more like Milhouse than Bart". His last name was given to him by Howard Gewirtz, a freelance writer who wrote the episode "Homer Defined". Gewirtz got the name from one of his wife's friends.
- Groening, Matt. (2006). "A Bit From the Animators", illustrated commentary for "Lisa's Date with Density", in The Simpsons: The Complete Eighth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- Joe Rhodes (2000-10-21). "Flash! 24 Simpsons Stars Reveal Themselves". TV Guide.
- Groening, Matt (1997). The Huge Book of Hell. New York: Penguin. p. 54.
- Gewirtz, Howard (2003). The Simpsons season 3 DVD commentary for the episode "Homer Defined" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
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