Selma's Choice

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"Selma's Choice"
The Simpsons episode
Episode no. 72
Production code 9F11
Original air date January 21, 1993
Showrunner(s) Al Jean & Mike Reiss
Written by David M. Stern
Directed by Carlos Baeza
Chalkboard gag "I will not yell 'she's dead' during roll call."[1]
Couch gag The Simpson family is caught by a net on the ground.[2]
Guest star(s) Phil Hartman as Lionel Hutz, Troy McClure and petty officers
DVD
commentary
Matt Groening
Al Jean
Mike Reiss
David M. Stern
Jim Reardon

"Selma's Choice" is the thirteenth episode of The Simpsons' fourth season and originally aired on the Fox network on January 21, 1993.[3] In the episode, Selma decides to have a baby, inspired by her late aunt's wish that she would not spend her life alone. She experiences what life with children is like by taking Bart and Lisa to the Duff Gardens amusement park, which does not go as planned. It was written by David M. Stern and directed by Carlos Baeza.[2]

Plot[edit]

After watching an advertisement on TV for Duff Gardens, Homer, Bart and Lisa decide to go. As they prepare to leave, Marge tells them that spinster Great Aunt Gladys died and they will be going to her funeral instead. The Simpsons, along with Patty and Selma, drive to Littleneck Falls to attend her funeral and the reading of her will. On the video will, Great Aunt Gladys tells Patty and Selma not to die alone, as she did. Selma hears the ticking of her biological clock, and decides she wants a child. Selma tries video dating, but gets rejected by Groundskeeper Willie. She goes to a psychic who tries to sell her a love potion. The psychic ingests it, blurts out the innocuous ingredients and discovers that she accidentally drank a truth serum. Selma dates Hans Moleman after revoking his license at the DMV. All goes well until Hans tries to kiss her goodnight; Selma envisions herself as the mother of several ugly, blind children (one of which falls out of the window) and kicks Hans out of the car to prevent that future from happening. Lisa then suggests to Selma that she go through artificial insemination. After seeing Barney sell his sperm, she leaves with a magazine about other sperm donors which she never uses.

When the day comes for Homer to take Bart and Lisa to Duff Gardens, he falls ill from food poisoning after eating a hoagie that became spoiled days after he took it home from a company picnic. In an attempt to give Selma a taste of motherhood, Marge nominates her to take the kids to Duff Gardens while she stays home to look after Homer; as Homer recuperates, they watch Boxing's Greatest Weigh-Ins, Yentl and the cheesy pseudo-porn The Erotic Adventures of Hercules (first mentioned on "Mr. Plow") starring Troy McClure as Hercules and Norman Fell as Zeus.

When the trio arrives at Duff Gardens, Bart and Lisa wear Selma out, especially when they go on the Little Land of Duff ride and Bart dares Lisa to drink the toxic "water". Lisa is confused, but Bart mocks her until Selma intervenes, shouting at Bart to shut up and ordering Lisa to drink the water. When Lisa takes a sip, she hallucinates, grows violent and paranoid, and wanders away from the ride, tripping out to the parade music. While Selma is looking for Lisa, Bart gets on a roller coaster called The Barrel Roll and ends up having to be rescued after the car stops in the center of one of the inversions. Lisa is soon found swimming nude in the Fermentarium, returned to Selma and given pills by an unlicensed doctor, after proclaiming "I am the lizard queen!"

After Bart and Lisa return home, Selma decides she can live without children and adopts Jub-Jub, Gladys' pet iguana.

Production[edit]

Writer David Stern said he wanted to go back to a "Patty and Selma episode", because it was sustained so well when he wrote "Principal Charming".[4] He thought it was important to "Keep these characters (Patty and Selma) alive." The animators had trouble with the size of the characters' pupils during the season. In this episode, they are noticeably larger.[5] When the family watches the video will, Julie Kavner did five voices in the scene.[4] When Gladys shows off her collection of potato chips, the scene was inspired by an actual guest on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, who was showing off her collection of chips that looked like famous people.[6] Jub-Jub made his debut appearance in this episode; The name of the iguana Jub-Jub came from Conan O'Brien.[4]

Though research is usually done when real languages are used on the show,[4] the language heard on Selma's ham radio is fictional.[6]

Cultural references[edit]

Marge's flashback of her and her sisters swimming in a lake is based on The Prince of Tides.[4] The singers at Duff Gardens (which is a parody of Busch Gardens), Hooray for Everything, are a tribute to Up with People.[7] The group is seen performing a kid-friendly version of the Lou Reed song "Walk on the Wild Side". Homer and Bart start to sing "Ding Dong! The Witch is dead" from The Wizard of Oz. The poem that Great Aunt Gladys reads at the start of her video will is "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost. The song and ride that Bart, Lisa, and Selma go on, with animatronic kids from all over the world singing is a parody of the song "It's a Small World".[6] The Duff Gardens parade is a parody of Disneyland's Main Street Electrical Parade.[4] When Lisa says "I am the Lizard Queen!", it is a tribute to Jim Morrison's poem "Celebration of the Lizard".[2] After acquiring Jub-Jub, Selma sings "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman", a reference to the seasons four finale of the sitcom Murphy Brown, in which Detective Murphy Brown sings the song after giving birth to her baby.[8]

Reception[edit]

"Selma's Choice" finished 27th in the weekly ratings for the week of January 18–24, 1993 with a Nielsen rating of 14.2.[9]

The authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood said, "A nice episode for Selma and good for Marge and Homer as well. But it's the kids who provide the highlights in this one, with their antics at Duff Gardens."[2] The author of Planet Simpson: How a Cartoon Masterpiece Documented an Era and Defined a Generation, Chris Turner said it "Fills in with the usual grab bag of great gags" and "The episode had some crowd-pleasing moments." He went on to say, "The last few minutes of the show played out to continuous laughter (in the pub he was watching it in)".[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Richmond & Coffman 1997, p. 106.
  2. ^ a b c d Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian (2000). "Selma's Choice". BBC. Retrieved 2008-01-23. 
  3. ^ "Selma's Choice". The Simpsons.com. Retrieved 2011-09-17. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Stern, David (2004). The Simpsons The Complete Fourth Season DVD commentary for the episode "Selma's Choice" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  5. ^ Reardon, Jim (2004). The Simpsons The Complete Fourth Season DVD commentary for the episode "Selma's Choice" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  6. ^ a b c Jean, Al (2004). The Simpsons The Complete Fourth Season DVD commentary for the episode "Selma's Choice" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  7. ^ Reiss, Mike (2004). The Simpsons The Complete Fourth Season DVD commentary for the episode "Selma's Choice" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  8. ^ ""The Simpsons" Writers Reunion -- Serious Jibber-Jabber with Conan O'Brien - CONAN on TBS". Team Coco. 17 April 2013. Retrieved 19 February 2014. 
  9. ^ "Nielsen Ratings/Jan. 18-24". Press-Telegram. Associated Press. 1993-01-27. p. C5. 
  10. ^ Turner 2004.
Bibliography

External links[edit]