Lisa the Beauty Queen
"Lisa the Beauty Queen" is the fourth episode of The Simpsons' fourth season. It first aired on the Fox network in the United States on October 15, 1992. In the episode, Homer enters Lisa into a beauty pageant to boost her confidence. Lisa is runner-up, but gains the title of Little Miss Springfield after the original winner is injured. Little Miss Springfield's duties include being a spokesperson for Laramie Cigarettes, which causes Lisa to speak out against smoking. As a result of her anti-smoking protests, her title is taken away on a technicality.
Jeff Martin wrote the episode and its accompanying songs and music. The episode was directed by Mark Kirkland and Bob Hope made a guest appearance. The episode references various films, music, and historical events and was well received by critics.
Springfield Elementary School holds a school fair, where Lisa purchases a caricature of herself drawn at a carnival booth. She is horrified at the unflattering drawing and the reaction of the surrounding crowd. Homer wins the fair's raffle, with the grand prize being a ride in the Duff Blimp. Back at home, Lisa is in tears because she feels unattractive. Homer sees a TV advertisement that says Laramie Cigarettes is sponsoring this year's "Little Miss Springfield" pageant, and decides to enter Lisa to boost her self-esteem. The entry fee for the pageant is $250, so he sells his Duff Blimp ticket to Barney to raise the funds needed. Homer excitedly tells Lisa he has entered her in the pageant, but she refuses. However, Marge tells Lisa that Homer sold his Duff Blimp ticket to pay the entry fee, and she realizes her father's sacrifice and enters the pageant.
At the pageant's registration, Lisa meets a formidable competitor named Amber Dempsey, a blonde girl who cheated by using eyelash implants from Paraguay to make her look cuter. In preparation for the pageant Lisa receives makeovers at the beauty parlor, training from her brother, and encouragement from her family. The day of the pageant arrives, and on-stage Lisa explains her aim to make Springfield a better place, while Amber wins the crowd's adoration by batting her large eyelashes. Lisa's talent is a jazzy medley of "America the Beautiful" and "Proud Mary". After Krusty the Clown's interview segment, Lisa is announced as the runner-up and Amber the winner. At Amber's first official appearance, a thunderstorm creates a lightning bolt which strikes her metal scepter. She is hospitalized for her injuries, and Lisa is crowned Little Miss Springfield.
One of Little Miss Springfield's duties as spokesperson for pageant sponsor Laramie Cigarettes, is to lure a younger demographic into smoking. Instead, Lisa protests against the dangers of cigarettes at her appearances, and also vows to target the corruption of Mayor Quimby. Quimby and the Laramie officials look for a way to dethrone and silence Lisa. They find a technical error on her entry form: Homer wrote "OK" underneath the instruction "Do not write in this space". Amber is recrowned Little Miss Springfield. At home, Homer is upset that he cost Lisa her title, but Lisa reminds Homer that he entered her in the pageant to help her self-esteem, and thanks him because it worked. Homer requests that she remember it "the next time I wreck your life", to which Lisa gladly agrees and embraces him.
Many of The Simpsons' writers had left the show or were absent at the beginning of season four, which left Al Jean and Mike Reiss to brainstorm plot ideas alone. After brainstorming "Homer the Heretic", they thought of Lisa entering a beauty pageant. They assigned Jeff Martin to write the episode because they assumed he would fill it with songs, like he had done on previous episodes. Martin obliged, and wrote the episode and its music. He also based the episode on some of his own experiences, such as the scene where Lisa has a caricature of herself drawn. According to Jeff Martin, "I'm not sure if we could do this episode today. People had a more innocent view of child beauty pageants before JonBenet Ramsey."
The episode makes several references to popular culture and history. One of the opening scenes sees Principal Skinner knocking out a man in a very similar manner to Mick Dundee in Crocodile Dundee. The episode includes a scene based on Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now, where Lisa and Bob Hope escape the Fort Springfield stage. It also makes two references to Star Wars, where the caricature artist displays a caricature of Darth Vader and a montage shows Lisa with a double-bun hairdo like Princess Leia. The Springfield Waxworks' Chamber of Horrors contains Mr. T, Ronald Reagan and Dr. Ruth, and Laramie's mascot Menthol Moose is a parody of Joe Camel. Musically, Homer mournfully sings a song, "Blimpy Boy", to the tune of The Seekers' "Georgy Girl". Historically, there is a parody of the Hindenburg disaster, when the Duff Blimp crashes into the radio tower, to which Kent Brockman quotes "Oh, the humanity!" When Lisa is sworn in as Little Miss Springfield on her front lawn, Marge is to her left wearing a pink suit-dress in a pose similar to that of Jacqueline Kennedy in the famous photo of Lyndon B. Johnson being sworn in on Air Force One after John F. Kennedy's assassination.
The episode finished 28th in the Nielsen ratings for the week of October 12–18, 1992 with a rating of 12.0, seen by approximately 11.1 million households. 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: "Another top-notch episode" and adds that "Krusty gets some of his best lines in a few brief appearances." The episode's reference to Apocalypse Now was named the 29th greatest film reference in the history of the show by Total Film's Nathan Ditum.
- "Lisa the Beauty Queen". The Simpsons.com. Retrieved 2011-09-17.
- Groening, Matt (1997). Richmond, Ray; Coffman, Antonia, eds. The Simpsons: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family (1st ed.). New York: HarperPerennial. p. 95. ISBN 978-0-06-095252-5. LCCN 98141857. OCLC 37796735. OL 433519M..
- Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian (2000). "Lisa the Beauty Queen". BBC. Retrieved 2008-04-30.
- Jean, Al (2004). The Simpsons season 4 DVD commentary for the episode "Lisa the Beauty Queen" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Martin, Jeff (2004). The Simpsons season 4 DVD commentary for the episode "Lisa the Beauty Queen" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Chernoff, Scott (2007-07-24). "I Bent My Wookiee! Celebrating the Star Wars/Simpsons Connection". Star Wars.com. Archived from the original on April 26, 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-30.
- "NIELSEN RATINGS /OCT. 12-18". Press-Telegram. October 21, 1992. p. C5.
- Ditum, Nathan (June 6, 2009). "The 50 Greatest Simpsons Movie References". Total Film. Retrieved 2009-07-22.
- "Aye Carumba! The Simpsons help liven up Christian teaching". July 25, 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-30.
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