Patty and Selma
|The Simpsons characters|
|Patty (left) and Selma (right)|
|Jobs||Civil servants, DMV|
|Relatives||Parents: Jackie, Clancy
Sisters: Marge and each other
Nieces: Lisa, Maggie
Daughter (Selma): Ling
(See also Bouvier family)
|Voice actor(s)||Julie Kavner|
|The Simpsons||"Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire"|
Patty and Selma Bouvier (//) are fictional characters in the American animated sitcom The Simpsons. They are twins and are both voiced by Julie Kavner. They are Marge Simpson's older twin sisters, who both work at the Springfield Department of Motor Vehicles, and possess a strong dislike for their brother-in-law, Homer. Selma is the elder by two minutes, and longs for male companionship while her sister, Patty, is a lesbian. Kavner voices them as characters who "suck the life out of everything".
Although the two have a similar look, there are several easy ways to distinguish them. Notable differences include:
- Hairstyle: Patty has a puffy perm, while Selma's similarly textured hair is parted in the middle to form an "M".
- Outfit: Patty wears a short-sleeved pink dress and pink shoes while Selma wears a hemmed sleeveless blue dress and blue shoes.
- Earrings: Patty wears orange or blue triangular earrings while Selma wears purple or orange circular earrings (and, in earlier episodes, earrings shaped in an "S").
- Necklace: Patty wears orange or blue spherical necklace pearls while Selma wears purple or orange spheroid-shaped necklace pearls.
In the episode "The Blue and the Gray", it is revealed that Selma is actually a blonde, while Patty is a redhead. Their blue-grey tinged hair is due to cigarette smoke and ash.
Rarely seen apart, Patty and Selma are known for their distinctive gravelly voices, their cynical outlook on life, and their love of cigarettes. They share an apartment at the Spinster City apartment complex and both work at the DMV. The two are avid, sometimes maniacal fans of the TV series, MacGyver. When Jay Sherman, on advice from Homer, told them MacGyver was gay, they stripped him to his boxers and hung him from the gutters. Prior to Selma's marriage with Sideshow Bob, he insulted MacGyver and the wedding was almost canceled as a result. They once got to meet Richard Dean Anderson (the actor who played the title character) and wound up kidnapping him. The two seem to be aroused by the character, taking cigarettes after every viewing of the show. Patty and Selma often bring back long dull slide shows from their vacations and other activities, including a visit to Czechoslovakia  and a pillowcase full of seashells from their trip to Sulfur Bay for them and the family to clean and organize; They drove away Richard Dean Anderson by showing him slides of their trip to the Remington Carriage Museum in Cardston, Alberta.
Patty and Selma have a strong, mutually reciprocated dislike for their brother-in-law Homer. They regret that Marge chose Homer over her former boyfriend Artie Ziff, and have unsuccessfully tried to help Artie win her back. However, Marge made it clear to her sisters that she loves Homer and there's nothing they can do to change her mind. Homer usually tries to be polite to them out of respect for Marge, but Patty and Selma do not hide their contempt for him. They showed little concern when Homer suffered a heart attack and while he was undergoing surgery they tried to set Marge up with a sleazy man named Andre. They own a tombstone inscribed with the epitaph "Homer J. Simpson. We are richer for having lost him" and use it as a coffee table, stick pins in a voodoo doll which looks like Homer and even commissioned a billboard urging voters to evict Homer from Springfield. Patty and Selma once kidnapped Homer and imprisoned him in a cellar in the hope that Marge would find someone else. Moved to tears by his obvious devotion to Marge, they let him go. When Homer contemplated suicide, they encouraged him to go through with it and then pushed him off the bridge. They have also given stoner Otto Mann a driver's license due to their mutual dislike for Homer, and deliberately failed Homer on his limousine driver's test. For his part, Homer regards them as the "Gruesome Twosome" and was delighted when he (mistakenly) heard they had died.
As children, Patty and Selma were apparently domineering towards Marge and ridiculed her ambition of becoming an astronaut. In return for their allowance, Marge used to do chores for them. The free time they now had led to them taking up smoking. As adults, the Bouvier twins have a friendly relationship with their sister and seem very protective of her and thus frequently visit the Simpsons. They seem relatively fond of their nieces and nephew, but seem to like them more when they are young, as one of them remarks "The older they get, the cuter they ain't." On occasions, they babysit Bart, Lisa and Maggie, something not relished by the kids. Bart and Lisa were left traumatized when they had to stay with their aunts for a week while a stressed out Marge left for Rancho Relaxo. Maggie managed to take evasive action and got to stay with Homer instead. Their idea of bonding with Lisa includes tutoring her in the belief that men are pigs, using Homer as the prime example, which disgusts her as he is her father and despite his not paying attention to her, Lisa knows Homer loves her.
Patty Bouvier is the younger of the two. Despite the similarities between her and Selma, Patty is more jaded than her sister, particularly towards relationships. It was once said by Marge that Patty chose a life of celibacy, and that Selma had it thrust upon her. Her decision to not have relationships has been implied to be due to her then closeted sexuality. Generally, Patty is more hostile to Homer than Selma is. However, when Patty came out as a lesbian, she found a surprising supporter in Homer (in contrast to Marge), and she swallowed her pride and asked him to perform her marriage ceremony. They also teamed up to try and scupper the burgeoning relationship between Selma and Homer's father Abe.
Patty's only known relationship with a man was Principal Skinner. On a blind date arranged by Homer, Skinner was supposed to fall for Selma, but he noticed Patty first and fell in love with her instead. They dated for a while but she turned down his marriage proposal, telling him she was too devoted to Selma to abandon her. However, she did consider Skinner a gentleman and ended their relationship with the words "Good night, sweet principal." Like Selma, Patty also has a long-running honest fixation on MacGyver, although this aspect of her personality has been played out in later episodes.
After coming out as a lesbian, Patty exclaims "you could see it from space!". There had been many previous hints of her sexuality; she was seen visiting a burlesque house, once remarked "There goes the last lingering thread of my heterosexuality" after a nude Homer ran past her screaming and she was seen hiding in a closet with Smithers on a parade float during a gay pride parade. In another nod to Patty's sexuality being obvious, Homer sarcastically quipped, "Here's another bomb for ya, Marge: I like beer!" when Marge was shocked at the revelation.
After Patty comes out, Homer accepts her sexuality despite his past problems with her. However, Marge is hurt and betrayed that Patty had hidden her sexuality for years. She refused to let Patty be with Veronica and still insisted that she marry a man. Patty was obviously angry with Marge for not accepting her like her family should. Marge ultimately learned to respect her sister's sexuality. Patty wooed a tenured professor of Yale University away from her husband and has also been attracted to Edna Krabappel. Selma says "I can't face prison" and Patty replies "I can." Patty's only serious relationship with a woman however was with Veronica, a pro-golfer. It was later discovered by Marge and revealed during Patty's wedding that Veronica was actually a man in disguise.
Selma Bouvier is two minutes older than Patty. Due to a childhood bottle rocket accident, she has no sense of taste or smell. According to Marge, Selma "likes Police Academy movies and Hummel figurines, and walking through the park on clear autumn days." In contrast to her twin, Selma yearns for male companionship and children. She is also slightly more sympathetic towards Homer than Patty. Selma helped reunite Homer and Marge after seeing how upset Marge was without him, despite an agreement with Patty not to say anything. He was sympathetic to her when she broke down after a disastrous trip to Duff Gardens with Bart and Lisa, remarking "I just couldn't cut it today", referring to raising kids. Homer also agreed to pose as Selma's husband to help her adopt a baby from China. Also, Selma has admitted privately to Marge that the only reason she insults Homer so much is because she has been jealous of her for finding such a steady long-term companionship and happy family much quicker than her.
Unable to find companionship in a man, Selma has also sought to have children. At one point she considered using a sperm donor. After babysitting Bart and Lisa for a day, she realized she was not ready to have children and wound up adopting Jub-Jub, her Aunt Gladys's pet iguana. Much later, she adopted a Chinese baby, Ling. During the adoption process, Selma pretended to be married to Homer, since the Chinese government only allows children to be adopted by married couples. When the fraud was exposed, Selma managed to keep the baby, as a Chinese dignitary (voiced by Lucy Liu) who had also been raised by a single parent became sympathetic.
Despite being identical twins, Patty and Selma have very different track records when it comes to finding dates. According to Marge, Patty chose a life of celibacy, while Selma had celibacy thrust upon her. Her standards are extremely low, as evidenced by her comments on Mr. Burns: "Single, eh? Well, he passes the Selma Test."
Selma has actively sought out a husband, and has been married to six different men. Her current name has evolved into Selma Bouvier-Terwilliger-Hutz-McClure-Stu-Simpson-D'Amico. Her first marriage, to Robert "Sideshow Bob" Terwilliger, ended when his plan to kill her was foiled by Bart. After an off-screen marriage to Lionel Hutz, she began dating Troy McClure. They married, but she soon discovered it was just a sham to boost his flagging career. She told him she was unwilling to bring a baby into a loveless marriage and broke it off. Another unseen marriage was to Disco Stu, which was annulled by the Pope. For a time she dated Abe Simpson, to the horror of Homer and Patty. Despite their objections, the two got married, but came to realize it would not work due to his age and her job, so they called it quits. Her most recent husband is Fat Tony, though he was already married and regarded Selma as his "Goomah". It has been implied that Selma had a second failed marriage to Sideshow Bob, giving her a total of seven marriages.
One person Selma refused to marry was Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, because she said her collection of last names was long enough. However there is evidence that she slept with Apu after Homer and Marge's second wedding. Selma has also dated various other men around Springfield, among them Hans Moleman, Moe Szyslak, and pitifully, Barney Gumble. She was rejected by Groundskeeper Willie, who upon seeing her dating video remarked "Back to the Loch with you Nessie".
Series creator Matt Groening said he suggested that Kavner voice Patty and Selma as characters who "suck the life out of everything...." Al Jean said Kavner makes Patty's voice more masculine and a lower register, while Selma's voice is a little sweeter.
In the 2005 episode "There's Something About Marrying" of the sixteenth season, Patty was revealed to be a lesbian and became the first openly gay recurring character in the series. Groening has stated that the staff wanted to out Patty as gay because portraying her as a "love-starved spinster [...] seemed old" on the show. There had previously been hints about Patty's orientation. For example, in the season thirteen episode "Jaws Wired Shut" she is part of the Springfield Gay Pride Parade's "stayin' in the closet" float, though only her voice was heard and she was not seen.
According to the publications Zeek: A Jewish Journal of Thought and Culture and Value War: Public Opinion and the Politics of Gay Rights, it was the controversial lesbian outing of the main character (played by Ellen DeGeneres) in the sitcom Ellen in 1997 that paved the way for Patty's coming-out in "There's Something About Marrying", as well as for many other gay characters on other television shows. In his book Queers in American Popular Culture, Jim Elledge noted that it is possible the Simpsons staff chose Patty to come out as gay instead of a male character because lesbians were "traditionally considered more acceptable" on television. She did, however, not "adhere to the eroticized male lesbian fantasy or fit into the loveable, asexual guise of the comedy lesbian" that had previously been seen on shows such as Ellen. Instead, Patty is "rude, crude, and not ashamed of declaring her sexual preferences", and this could make her unpalatable to some viewers according to Elledge.
It was reported a long time in advance of the episode's airing in 2005 that a major character would come out as gay during the episode. There was a widespread debate among fans of the series as to who the character would be. Patty was suspected by many fans and the press because she had not often been seen dating men on the show. The tabloid newspaper The Sun revealed already in September 2004 that character who would come out was Patty, though this was regarded as a rumor and The Simpsons executive producer Al Jean would not confirm it. Bookmakers in the United States and the United Kingdom took bets on which character would be uncovered as homosexual—BetUS laid odds at four to five that it was Patty, while Smithers had four to one odds and Ned Flanders fifteen to one odds. BetUS said gamblers made more than 900 bets on the coming-out on their website. According to The Baltimore Sun, another bookmaker Paddy Power "stopped taking wagers because so much money was being placed on [Patty]."
- The Simpsons "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" - December 17, 1989
- Rhodes, Joe. "Flash! 24 Simpsons Stars Reveal Themselves", TV Guide October 21, 2000, via The Simpsons Archive: "[Matt] Groening says: 'My original idea about Marge's family was they were utterly joyless. The original note I gave to Julie was that they suck the life out of everything they see'".
- The Simpsons - "A Star is Burns"
- The Simpsons. "Black Widower"
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- The Simpsons - "Mother Simpson"
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- The Simpsons - "Three Gays of the Condo"
- The Simpsons - "Wedding for Disaster"
- The Simpsons - "Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind"
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- The Simpsons - "Krusty Gets Busted"
- The Simpsons - "American History X-cellent"
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- The Simpsons - "Lisa's First Word"
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- The Simpsons. "There's Something About Marrying"
- The Simpsons. "Principal Charming"
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- The Simpsons - "Jaws Wired Shut"
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- The Simpsons - "I Married Marge"
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- According to a The Simpsons DVD commentary and by episode writer O'Brien on Late Night with Conan O'Brien
- "In the Family Way", The Next Big Thing, 10 October 2003. Julia Sweeney tells about the messages she received from Chinese adoption agencies trying to confirm her heterosexuality due to government opposition to gay adoption
- The Simpsons "Much Apu About Nothing"
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- Brewer, Paul Ryan (2008). Value War: Public Opinion and the Politics of Gay Rights. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 49. ISBN 978-0-7425-6211-0.
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- The Simpsons Archive: The Patty and Selma File
- Patty Bouvier at the Internet Movie Database
- Selma Bouvier at the Internet Movie Database
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