Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield
"Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield" is the 14th episode of The Simpsons' seventh season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on February 4, 1996. In the episode, Marge buys a Chanel suit and is invited to join the Springfield Country Club. Marge becomes obsessed with trying to fit in, but soon realizes that it has changed her personality and that she was happier being her old self. She decides she would rather go back to the way things were than continue to pursue high social ambitions.
The episode was written by Jennifer Crittenden and directed by Susie Dietter. It was the first time a female writer and director were credited in the same episode. Tom Kite guest starred in the episode, and he "really enjoyed" recording his parts for it. The episode's title is a parody of the 1989 film Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills. Since airing, the episode has received mostly positive reviews from fans and television critics. It acquired a Nielsen rating of 8.8, and was the fifth highest-rated show on the Fox network the week it aired.
The Simpsons go to the Ogdenville Outlet Mall to buy a new TV (after Grampa Simpson accidentally wrecks the old one while trying to change the channel), Marge with Lisa's encouragement, purchases a $90 Chanel suit at a discount fashion store, and without any special place to wear it, she runs errands around town in it. At the Kwik-E-Mart, she meets a snobbish old high school acquaintance, Evelyn Peters, who pity-invites Marge to the Springfield Country Club. Marge begins visiting the country club, improving and working hard to fit in with the high class members, finding less time for her family and spending it all socializing and altering her suit to appear like multiple outfits. while Lisa pouts, and Bart's exhaustively trying to keep up with his family's activities.
Meanwhile, Homer takes a fondness to golf, meeting PGA Tour professional Tom Kite, who considers Homer to be a natural. When Mr. Burns discovers Homer showing off his impressive skills in a bathroom at work, he has Waylon Smithers schedule a match for the two. Burns appears to be an amazing player before it is revealed that Smithers has been cheating on his behalf for years by secretly placing a ball on the green for each shot. Homer wants to reveal the humiliating truth, but is told by Smithers that Mr. Burns will block the family's Country Club entry if he goes public.
On the eve of the gala ball in which the family will be granted membership in the country club Marge gives a frustrated scolding to Lisa for making so much noise. She finishes the dress, but as Marge steps back to admire the dress, it gets caught up in the sewing machine and gets destroyed. marge turns to her sisters for help, she then rushes back to the outlet mall to find another dress. However, being unable to find one, she hurriedly heads to a Chanel store to purchase an expensive replacement. As they approach the country club, she impatiently hurts her family, who are hurt by her haughty new perceptions of them. Marge relents and realizes how much she has changed to impress the members, and forgetting her own family, reconciles. She decides she would rather go back to normal the right way rather then become what she is not.
The episode was written by Jennifer Crittenden and directed by Susie Dietter. It was the first time a female writer and director was credited in the same episode. The episode's title is a parody of the film Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills. The first script of the episode was too long and it had to be cut down. Dietter remembered that it "took on a more serious tone" because they had to keep the parts that were essential to the story and cut the many "throwaway gags". Bill Oakley, the show runner of The Simpsons at the time, praised the episode for having a "terrific" story that "really comes together well". Oakley said that he and his partner Josh Weinstein wanted to have more "emotionally" based episodes this season that still had humor in them. He thought Crittenden did a "good job" at that and he thought the episode "came out well".
Marge's dress was modeled on an actual Chanel dress, and also the type of dresses that former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis used to wear. The show's creator, Matt Groening, was worried that such a detailed dress would look "weird" on a Simpsons character because they are "simply designed" and their clothing is "very generic". He ended up liking the design, though, and Dietter thought it looked "good" on Marge. Oakley also liked the design and thought the cut on Marge was "flattering". The country club women's clothes were changed in every scene, something Dietter thought was hard to do because the animators had to come up with new designs.
Tom Kite guest starred in the episode as himself. He said that he "really enjoyed" recording his parts for it. "It was a lot of fun trying to imagine exactly what Homer's golf swing is going to look like. My number one fear is that Homer will end up having a better golf swing than I do - heaven forbid!", he added.
In its original American broadcast, "Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield" finished 64th in the ratings for the week of January 29 to February 4, 1996, with a Nielsen rating of 8.8. The episode was the fifth highest-rated show on the Fox network that week, following The X-Files, Beverly Hills, 90210, My Cousin Vinny, and Married... With Children.
Since airing, the episode has received mostly positive reviews from television critics. Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, summed it up as follows: "Marge looks great in her Chanel, the golf scenes between Homer and Mr. Burns are brilliant, and there are many true, touching moments as Marge struggles valiantly to improve herself. Yet again, it's tempting for the viewer to urge Marge on and get the hell away from the family." DVD Movie Guide's Colin Jacobson said that he does not know if he "accepts" the episode as being "in character" for Marge. He said that it borrows liberally from The Flintstones, but he "likes it anyway". Jacobson added that the episode "jabs the idle rich nicely", and he enjoys the golf scenes with Homer. The program succeeds despite a few problems." Jennifer Malkowski of DVD Verdict considered the best part of the episode to be when Mr. Burns's demand for his tires to be revulcanized at the gas station. The website concluded its review by giving the episode a grade of B. The authors of the book Homer Simpson Goes to Washington, Joseph Foy and Stanley Schultz, wrote that in the episode, "the tension of trying to demonstrate a family's achievement of the American Dream is satirically and expertly played out by Marge Simpson".
- Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian (2000). "Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2009-01-04.
- Groening, Matt (1997). Richmond, Ray; Coffman, Antonia, eds. The Simpsons: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family. Created by Matt Groening; edited by Ray Richmond and Antonia Coffman. (1st ed.). New York: HarperPerennial. ASIN 0006388981. LCCN 98141857. OCLC 37796735. OL 433519M. ISBN 0-00-638898-1, 978-0-00-638898-2. p. 195.
- Dietter, Susie (2005). The Simpsons season 7 DVD commentary for the episode "Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Oakley, Bill (2005). The Simpsons season 7 DVD commentary for the episode "Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Groening, Matt (2005). The Simpsons season 7 DVD commentary for the episode "Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Wheeler, Camille (January 31, 1996). "So They Say...". Austin American-Statesman. pp. C2.
- "Nielsen Ratings". The Tampa Tribune. February 8, 1996. p. 4. Retrieved on January 5, 2009.
- Jacobson, Colin (2006-01-05). "The Simpsons: The Complete Seventh Season (1995)". DVD Movie Guide. Retrieved 2008-12-01.
- Malkowski, Judge (2006-01-16). "The Simpsons: The Complete Seventh Season". DVD Verdict. Retrieved 2008-12-01.
- Foy, Joseph; Schultz, Stanley (2008). Homer Simpson Goes to Washington. University Press of Kentucky. p. 54. ISBN 978-0-8131-2512-1.
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- "Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield" at The Simpsons.com
- "Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield" episode capsule at The Simpsons Archive
- "Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield" at TV.com
- "Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield" at the Internet Movie Database