The Twisted World of Marge Simpson
"The Twisted World of Marge Simpson" is the eleventh episode of the The Simpsons' eighth season, which originally aired January 19, 1997. It was written by Jennifer Crittenden and directed by Chuck Sheetz. The episode guest stars Jack Lemmon as Frank Ormand and Joe Mantegna as Fat Tony. Over the course of the episode, Marge sets up her own business, selling pretzels.
At a meeting of the Springfield Investorettes, Marge admits that she is reluctant to invest money in high-risk ventures and is ejected from the group. After some consideration, Lisa convinces Marge to buy her own franchise. During a Franchise Expo, the Investorettes become members of the glamorous "Fleet-A-Pita" franchise, in return prompting Marge to join a much smaller one called "Pretzel Wagon", owned by a man named Frank Ormand. After watching a promotional video, Marge sets up a makeshift office in her garage, distributes flyers, and with Homer, Bart and Lisa's help, proceeds to make pretzels.
To begin with, Marge sets up shop outside the Springfield Power Plant, with Homer convincing his colleagues to each try the new snack. However, the Investorettes' Fleet-A-Pita van rolls up, and within a few seconds, converts Marge's customers. Lisa suggests that Marge "think big", and so the family offer "Free Pretzel Day" at the Springfield Isotopes baseball stadium. Before the crowd has a chance to consume their complimentary pretzel, it is announced that Mr. Burns has won a 1997 Pontiac Astro Wagon in the day's give-away competition. The supporters react angrily to the news and bombard the field with the pretzels, knocking out Whitey Ford in the process. No one tries the food and Marge's efforts end in vain once again.
Homer, seeing Marge depressed, decides to take matters into his own hands and searches for someone who can help Marge. After discovering that Frank Ormand has died in a car accident (as has the executor of his estate), Homer establishes a "business agreement" with Fat Tony. The following day, Marge surprisingly receives a large order for pretzels and the business is reinvigorated. Many snack-food vendors, Luigi's restaurant and the Girl Scouts are intimidated by the mob, culminating with the Investorettes' Fleet-A-Pita van violently exploding. Shortly after, Fat Tony greets Homer and demands he pay for his "favors" but he promptly refuses. As a result, Marge is given an order to be delivered to a remote location on the outskirts of the town where she is approached by Fat Tony and his goons. He informs her of the deal he made with Homer and claims that he is entitled to a 100% stake of Marge's profits as a result. Marge confronts Homer about this and he comes clean, explaining that he was only trying to help her. They decide to put their argument aside to make the pretzels and to determine whether to pay their debt.
The following morning the mob arrives, but Marge and Homer have decided to refuse to pay them any money. As the mob advances on the pair, the Investorettes arrive with the Japanese Yakuza. The rival gangs begin to fight and the Simpsons retreat to the house. Homer apologizes for his indiscretion, and Marge forgives him.
The main plot of the episode concerning the two rival snack food franchises was selected because at the time of production, Pita bread and pretzels were "becoming popular." Josh Weinstein expressed his wish that the ideas had been changed to something more "fun", as both snacks have since "gone out of fashion." The Fleet-A-Pita chef was an early version of the "Khlav-Kalash" man from "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson." At the Expo, many of the franchises were based on real franchises and get-rich-quick schemes. In the scene where Homer is inspecting pretzels, there was originally a shot where he gave thumbs down to Marge's pretzels.
The episode was written by Jennifer Crittenden who wrote four other episodes. Homer's line "Yeah, Homer's right" during the scene where the pretzel wagon arrives was ad-libbed by Dan Castellaneta. In another scene, Cletus calls for his many children to come out of the house; the names of which were all "trendy names from the nineties". The 1997 Pontiac Astro Wagon that Mr. Burns wins was designed to accurately resemble one. The episode's final scene, the mob war, was conceived by Matt Groening as no one else could come up with an ending.
The scene in which the Springfield Mafia destroy all of the competition to "Pretzel Wagon" is based on a scene from Goodfellas. Frank Ormand's "You'll be there" speech mirrors that of Tom Joad from John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. Lemmon's portrayal of Frank Ormand is based on the character Shelley Levene from the film Glengarry Glen Ross, also played by Lemmon. The character Gil Gunderson, who would not be introduced until the episode "Realty Bites", was also based on Levene. Rumer and Scout, two of Cletus's children, are named after Bruce Willis and Demi Moore's children.
In its original broadcast, "The Twisted World of Marge Simpson" finished 55th in ratings for the week of January 13–19, 1997, with a Nielsen rating of 8.2, equivalent to approximately 8.0 million viewing households. It was the fifth highest-rated show on the Fox network that week, following The X-files, King of the Hill, Melrose Place and Beverly Hills, 90210.
The authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, called it "A clever, and rather unusual, idea for an episode that shows a frightening bitchiness beneath the middle-class veneer of smalltown businesswomen." The scene with Cletus's children is one of two scenes from this episode that Josh Weinstein considers to be "classic", with the second being the sequence when the crowd throw their free pretzels onto the baseball field, knocking Whitey Ford unconscious. The Ford scene was placed twenty-fourth on ESPN.com's list of the "Top 100 Simpsons sport moments", released in 2004. Greg Collins, the author of the list, added that "Every time it looks like a fight is about to start at a baseball game, I start quoting this scene." The A.V. Club named the baseball commentator's line "Aaaannnd heeerrre come the pretzels" one of the quotes from The Simpsons that can be used in everyday situations.
- 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 0060952520. LCCN 98141857. OCLC 37796735. OL 433519M. ISBN 0-06-095252-0, 978-0-06-095252-5. p. 223.
- Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian (2000). "The Twisted World of Marge Simpson". BBC. Retrieved April 6, 2007.
- Weinstein, Josh (2006). The Simpsons The Complete Eighth Season DVD commentary for the episode "The Twisted World of Marge Simpson" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Sheetz, Chuck (2006). The Simpsons The Complete Eighth Season DVD commentary for the episode "The Twisted World of Marge Simpson" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Groening, Matt (2006). The Simpsons The Complete Eighth Season DVD commentary for the episode "The Twisted World of Marge Simpson" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Associated Press (January 23, 1997). "Thursday sweep leads NBC to top". Sun-Sentinel. p. 4E.
- Collins, Greg (January 23, 2004). "The Simpsons Got Game". ESPN.com. Retrieved March 29, 2007.
- Bahn, Christopher; Donna Bowman, Josh Modell, Noel Murray, Nathan Rabin, Tasha Robinson, Kyle Ryan, Scott Tobias (April 26, 2006). "Beyond "D'oh!": Simpsons Quotes For Everyday Use". The A.V. Club. Retrieved April 24, 2007.
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- "The Twisted World of Marge Simpson" at The Simpsons.com
- "The Twisted World of Marge Simpson" episode capsule at The Simpsons Archive
- "The Twisted World of Marge Simpson" at TV.com
- "The Twisted World of Marge Simpson" at the Internet Movie Database