Lisa the Simpson
"Lisa the Simpson" is the seventeenth episode of the ninth season of the animated television series The Simpsons, which originally aired March 8, 1998. It was written by Ned Goldreyer and directed by Susie Dietter. This episode was also the final episode with Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein as show runners. In this episode, Lisa fears that she may be genetically predisposed to lose her intelligence after Grandpa tells her of a family gene that can permanently take away intelligence. However, when Homer invites family relatives over, she gets a surprise. Meanwhile, Apu finds Jasper Beardley locked in one of his Kwik-E-Mart freezers and turns his convenience store into a freak show to get more money.
At Springfield Elementary, Lisa is presented with a brain teaser, which she is unable to solve. Following this incident, Lisa finds herself unable to perform simple tasks, such as remembering the combination for her locker, her saxophone technique, and forgetting to complete a homework assignment (due to the fact that she stayed up late the previous night trying to complete the brain teaser). Later, Lisa tells Grampa about her recent cognitive problems. He seems to recognize this, and tells Lisa about the "Simpson Gene", which according to Abe causes all members of the Simpson family to gradually lose their intelligence as they get older. To prove his point, Grampa shows Lisa a picture of young Homer as a spelling bee champion, and a series of old report cards of Bart's which reveal that her brother was extremely intelligent when he was young, before slowly degrading into the ignorant hooligan he is today (which contradicts the flashback in "Lisa's Sax" in which Bart is established as an underachiever at an earlier age). Presented with such evidence, Lisa soon accepts this as her fate.
Meanwhile, Jasper visits the Kwik-E-Mart and attempts to empty the freezer containing ice cream in order to freeze himself, with the intention of being defrosted sometime in the distant future. Apu decides to take advantage of this unusual situation for financial gain by advertising the frozen Jasper as "Frostillicus" and re-branding the Kwik-E-Mart as the Freak-E-Mart. The convenience store becomes a tourist trap and begins to generate a fair amount of money, until the freezer's cooling system fails, causing Jasper to defrost and walk away. Fearing that he will lose customers, Apu turns the Freak-E-Mart into a combination of a convenience store and a strip club and re-renames his store to the Nude-E-Mart.
After watching Bart and Homer eat candy they had hidden in the sofa, Lisa imagines her future, which involves her being married to Ralph Wiggum, being morbidly obese, speaking in a white trash Southern accent, and having many children. This frightens Lisa, causing her to appear on the TV news program Smartline to tell the citizens of Springfield to treasure their brains. As she does this, Homer decides to prove her wrong, and contacts the entire extended Simpson family (which the men all look and sound like Homer) to visit, so he can prove that at least some of the family are intelligent. However, when they arrive, they are universally found to also be unsuccessful, unintelligent people, which only depresses Lisa further and causes Homer to send them home.
However, before they leave, Marge reminds Homer he did not talk to any of the women of his side of the family. Reluctantly, he talks to them at her request and he discovers that the women are all successful: a doctor (who bears a striking resemblance to Lisa), an architect, an environmental lawyer, and a sales coordinator of a large company specialising in bunk and trundle beds. When Lisa questions why it did not affect the women, Dr. Simpson reveals that the defective "Simpson Gene" only exists in the Y chromosome, meaning that only the male members of the family are affected. She also mentions that the females on the other hand, are not affected by it at all because of their X chromosome. As a result, she will be successful like them. Lisa is relieved that she is fine and she will not suffer the "Simpson Gene", because of her sex. However, Bart bemoans that he will be an unintelligent failure in life, like the males because he inherited the "Simpson Gene". However, Homer reassures him that he will be "a spectacular failure". Bart gladly accepts this and returns to playing with the other Simpson men (where they wear pots as helmets and hit each other's heads). The episode ends with Lisa finally being able to solve the brain teaser she was unable to finish earlier in the episode with a Homeresque "Woo-Hoo!", before correcting herself with a restrained "splendid.". This proves that while she may not suffer the defective Simpson Gene, Lisa is still a Simpson.
This episode was the final episode that was run by Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein, as it was a carry-over episode from season eight. The episode was written by Ned Goldreyer, and is one of the two episodes he has written on The Simpsons. Susie Dietter, one of the directors of the show, also left the show after this episode, but returned for one episode in season 18, "Yokel Chords".
As it was the final episode they ran, Oakley and Weinstein wanted to end on a good note, with Weinstein stating the episode, "was meant to embody the humor, depth, and emotions of The Simpsons." They also wished to have an episode they ran that was based on the background of every character they could do, and believed that this episode came out well. The name of the episode was the center of an argument that Oakley and Goldreyer had, as Oakley had originally wanted to have the episode named "Lisa the Simpson", although Goldreyer wanted to name it "Suddenly Stupid", a pun on a show that had been airing at the time called Suddenly Susan.
The Simpsons family members that showed up took some time to be made, but the staff enjoyed the results. All of the male Simpsons family members that showed up were voiced by Dan Castellaneta, the voice of Homer. He had asked for the recording tape to be run for about 20 minutes, so he could do many different voice variations that would fit the different men, but still be close to Homer's voice.
There is an animation error in the episode. When Grandpa walks through the living room explaining why Lisa is on TV, the lines that make up the right side of the couch expand and contract into a fuzzy black patch. This is also visible behind Homer a couple of seconds earlier.
In its original broadcast, "Lisa the Simpson" finished 19th in ratings for the week of March 2-8, 1998, with a Nielsen rating of 10.7, equivalent to approximately 10.4 million viewing households. It was the second highest-rated show on the Fox network that week, following The X-Files.
Todd Gilchrist named the episode as one of his favorites of the ninth season in his review of the DVD boxset, and authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, thought well of the episode, saying, "A terrific episode, with a good mix of pathos (Lisa's farewell to the Springsonian and her favourite jazz club are inspired) and fun (her Homeresque 'woo-hoo') which comes together to make a refreshing and exciting look at Lisa's life."
Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein greatly enjoyed the episode and thought of it as a great final episode that they ran. On the audio commentary, writer Ned Goldreyer stated, "I think this might have been the best episode ever produced." He then jokingly added, "certainly ever written."
- Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian (2000). "Lisa the Simpson". BBC. Retrieved 2007-11-02.
- Gimple, Scott (1999). The Simpsons Forever!: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family ...Continued. Harper Collins Publishers. p. 32. ISBN 0-06-098763-4.
- "Lisa the Simpson" The Simpsons.com. Retrieved on October 28, 2007
- Dietter, Susie (2006). The Simpsons season 9 DVD commentary for the episode "Lisa the Simpson" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Oakley, Bill (2006). The Simpsons season 9 DVD commentary for the episode "Lisa the Simpson" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Goldreyer, Ned (2006). The Simpsons season 9 DVD commentary for the episode "Lisa the Simpson" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Associated Press (March 12, 1998). "WB beats its own record". Rocky Mountain News. p. 9D.
- Gilchrist, Todd (2006-12-21). "The Simpsons - The Complete Ninth Season". IGN. Retrieved 2007-11-02.
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- "Lisa the Simpson" at the Internet Movie Database