Pranks and Greens
"Pranks and Greens" is the sixth episode of the twenty first season of The Simpsons. It aired on the Fox network in the United States on November 22, 2009. In this episode, Bart tracks down an immature, college-aged man named Andy Hamilton who was once hailed Springfield Elementary's best prankster. Meanwhile, Marge is chastised by the women in her social circle for not serving healthy snacks.
After Bart is apprehended for playing pranks on the teachers of Springfield Elementary, Principal Skinner reveals to Bart he is not the greatest prankster to ever walk the halls of the school. Bart is shocked by this revelation and sets out to discover the identity of this prankster. After sifting through countless back issues of the school paper, he discovers that there is a two-week gap in its publication dating back 10 years, and that there is a substantial change in Principal Skinner's demeanor and appearance before and after the gap.
Groundskeeper Willie tells Bart that he was once the school swim instructor, and that Principal Skinner was once fun-loving and laid-back until an incident dubbed "Night of the Wigglers". Here, a prankster locked Skinner in a pool full of earthworms for an entire weekend. Monday was teacher development day, so he was not rescued until Tuesday morning. This experience changed Skinner's personality for the worse. Willie then tells Bart that the prankster was named Andy Hamilton, and not to let Skinner know where he learned the name, or he will kill whoever told him.
Meanwhile, Marge is harshly criticized by other Springfield mothers (mainly by Manjula) for serving unhealthy snacks at their "Midday Mommies" meeting. She burns the family's junk food, to Homer's horror (he tries to put the fire out with whipped cream, but he only makes it worse due to it being a flammable petroleum by-product). The family purchases organic food, which is very expensive and has a short shelf life (much to Homer's chagrin), at a local market.
Unfortunately, at the next meeting, Marge meets with more criticism when she uses non-stick bakeware (which contains PFOAs) and plastic drinking bottles marked with number 7 (which has the potential to leak BPA). The other mothers storm away and Marge realizes that she misses eating junk food. Homer catches Marge eating from his stash of candy, and the two of them indulge in junk food together and apparently make love, and Homer points out that, ironically, the junk food is healthier than organic food. They then agree to only make the kids eat healthy.
Bart meets Andy Hamilton and discovers that he is unemployed and lives with his mother. When Lisa suggests Andy is a loser, Bart gets him a job as Krusty the Clown's assistant, as a favour Krusty owes him, but is angry when Andy quits after one day. Bart gets him rehired and goes to check Andy's progress. When a truck full of earthworms labelled “Prank Grade” drives into the studio, Bart is terrified that Andy is repeating the "Night of the Wigglers" prank and will end up a loser like Skinner (with Skinner watching, and saying "Watch the Krusty Show they tell me, you'll forget your troubles they tell me").
He discovers, however, that it is part of the show (Krusty's line "I wanted warm water, not worm water" is cued in), and that Andy has been hired as a writer for Krusty's show and has a girlfriend, much to Bart's delight. Despite Andy's success, Lisa still thinks that he is a loser, believing that writing for a comedy show is no better than the life of a prankster.
Pranks and Greens received generally positive reviews.
IGN's Robert Canning gave it a 6.9/10 saying that "the episode had a good start, but veered into a less than impressive direction and Marge's storyline, while cute in parts, was really just filler more than anything else". Todd VanDerWerff of The Av Club gave it a B, the second highest score of the night after American Dad. He said: "Not a bad setup for an episode, particularly as Bart's shenanigans are one of the few things the show does consistently anymore, but it just never felt like the Andy and Bart story ever went anywhere". Jason Hughes, of AOLTV said "This was a pretty well-structured episode, in that it might even give Bart some hope and direction for his own life...It adds something to the character of Bart to have an older prankster in town, whether he's successful or not."
The episode was viewed by 7.03 million viewers with a rating share of 3.3/8, making it the second most viewed episode on Animation Domination after Family Guy. However, this week's number is a significant drop from the 9.04 million and 18-49 rating of 4.2 earned from "The Devil Wears Nada", making The Simpsons come in at 24th in the ratings for this week. A later rerun got 8.14 million and a rating of 4.8/8 more than the original airing and was 20th in the weekly ratings and 9th in the 18 and 49 rating making it the highest rated show on Fox. Ariel Ponywether of Firefox News have the episode a B+ saying the Simpsons writers "ask what the greater good is – maturity or an eternal adolescence? Both are shown to have their negative impacts, in a way that’s both touching and amusing"...It’s really a very good, solid piece; the show seems to be moving in the right direction". She added "the weakest spots involved Marge’s attempt at feeding the family organic food [and] the somewhat disappointing conclusion [which] causes me to downgrade the episode’s final rating".
- Canning, Robert. "The Simpsons: "Pranks and Greens" Review". IGN.
- Gorman, Bill. "TV Ratings Sunday: American Music Awards Rivals Football; Cold Case No Better At 9pm". TV by the Numbers.
- Seidman, Robert. "TV Ratings: Sunday Night Football, AMAs, Grey's, Big Bang, House and NCIS top weekly broadcast charts". TV by the Numbers.
- Robert Seidman. "TV Ratings: New episodes of Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men, Survivor and NCIS propel CBS to top of charts". TV by the Numbers.