Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield
"Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield" is the 14th episode of The Simpsons' seventh season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on February 4, 1996. In the episode, Marge buys a Chanel suit and is invited to join the Springfield Country Club. Marge becomes obsessed with trying to fit in, but soon realizes that it has changed her personality and that she was happier being her old self. She decides she would rather go back to the way things were than continue to pursue high social ambitions.
The episode was written by Jennifer Crittenden and directed by Susie Dietter. It was the first time a female writer and director were credited in the same episode. Tom Kite guest starred in the episode, and he "really enjoyed" recording his parts for it. The episode's title is a parody of the 1989 film Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills. Since airing, the episode has received mostly positive reviews from fans and television critics. It acquired a Nielsen rating of 8.8, and was the fifth highest-rated show on the Fox network the week it aired.
When Abe Simpson tries to "fix" the family's television, it breaks irreparably, so the family travels to the Ogdenville outlet mall. Marge and Lisa wander off to a discounted store and Marge locates a fancy Chanel suit, which has been marked from $2,800 and is now $90. Marge is first reluctant to buy the suit, but after Lisa's convincing that it's a great buy, Marge purchases the suit, so she becomes infatuated with it and wears it constantly, begging Homer to take her somewhere fancy so the suit can be put to good use. However, one day when Marge wears it to the Kwik-E-Mart, she runs into an old classmate, Evelyn. who is impressed by Marge's fashion sense and invites her to come to the Springfield Country Club (even though Marge has married Homer, as Evelyn originally assumes with anger). Marge, intimidated by the wealthy club members, works hard to fit in with their snobbish ways. Along the way, Marge loses interest in her family and becomes obsessed with both impressing the club members and altering her suit so she comes off as wealthy.
Meanwhile, the rest of the family is uncomfortable at the country club until Lisa finds the stables and Homer begins playing golf. Homer is revealed to have a knack for golf, and Mr. Burns, having seen Homer's skill in the bathroom at work, challenges him to a match. Mr. Burns believes that he is the best golfer in Springfield, and is determined to take down Homer. However, once they begin playing, Homer, who is in disbelief at one of Mr. Burns' shots, runs over to the green and finds Mr. Smithers replacing the ball Mr. Burns hit with a new one that is close to the hole. Homer wants to reveal the cheating to the entire club, but Burns threatens to cancel the Simpsons' membership if he tells. Homer reluctantly agrees.
In the meantime, Marge is offended by a crack made by one of the snobby club members and is eager to change the suit even more to impress at a party. However, due to Lisa's annoyingly inquisitive nature, Marge accidentally destroys the suit on the sewing machine. Marge rushes back to the Ogdenville outlet mall, but there are no suitable clothes for the party. Marge, having nowhere left to turn, goes to the actual Chanel store and purchases a $3,300 dress. When she and the rest of the Simpsons arrive at the party, Marge criticizes the behavior of everyone in her family, including Maggie. Homer tells Marge that he and the kids have realized what awful people they are compared to the changed Marge. Marge realizes that she has changed for the worse, and goes to Krusty Burger with her family instead of the party. However, it is later revealed that the party was actually supposed to be an initiation party, as Evelyn Peters has decided to sponsor their membership.
The episode was written by Jennifer Crittenden and directed by Susie Dietter. It was the first time a female writer and director were credited in the same episode. The episode's title is a parody of the film Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills. The first script of the episode was too long and it had to be cut down. Dietter remembered that it "took on a more serious tone" because they had to keep the parts that were essential to the story and cut the many "throwaway gags". Bill Oakley, the show runner of The Simpsons at the time, praised the episode for having a "terrific" story that "really comes together well". Oakley said that he and his partner Josh Weinstein wanted to have more "emotionally" based episodes this season that still had humor in them. He thought Crittenden did a "good job" at that and he thought the episode "came out well".
Marge's dress was modeled on an actual Chanel dress, and also the type of dresses that former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis used to wear. The show's creator, Matt Groening, was worried that such a detailed dress would look "weird" on a Simpsons character because they are "simply designed" and their clothing is "very generic". He ended up liking the design, though, and Dietter thought it looked "good" on Marge. Oakley also liked the design and thought the cut on Marge was "flattering". The country club women's clothes were changed in every scene, something Dietter thought was hard to do because the animators had to come up with new designs.
Tom Kite guest starred in the episode as himself. He said that he "really enjoyed" recording his parts for it. "It was a lot of fun trying to imagine exactly what Homer's golf swing is going to look like. My number one fear is that Homer will end up having a better golf swing than I do—heaven forbid!", he added.
In its original American broadcast, "Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield" finished 64th in the ratings for the week of January 29 to February 4, 1996, with a Nielsen rating of 8.8. The episode was the fifth highest-rated show on the Fox network that week, following The X-Files, Beverly Hills, 90210, My Cousin Vinny, and Married... With Children.
Since airing, the episode has received mostly positive reviews from television critics. Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, summed it up as follows: "Marge looks great in her Chanel, the golf scenes between Homer and Mr. Burns are brilliant, and there are many true, touching moments as Marge struggles valiantly to improve herself. Yet again, it's tempting for the viewer to urge Marge on and get the hell away from the family." DVD Movie Guide's Colin Jacobson said that he does not know if he "accepts" the episode as being "in character" for Marge. He said that it borrows liberally from The Flintstones, but he "likes it anyway". Jacobson added that the episode "jabs the idle rich nicely", and he enjoys the golf scenes with Homer. The program succeeds despite a few problems." Jennifer Malkowski of DVD Verdict considered the best part of the episode to be Mr. Burns's demand for his tires to be revulcanized at the gas station. The website concluded its review by giving the episode a grade of B. The authors of the book Homer Simpson Goes to Washington, Joseph Foy and Stanley Schultz, wrote that in the episode, "the tension of trying to demonstrate a family's achievement of the American Dream is satirically and expertly played out by Marge Simpson".
- Groening, Matt (1997). Richmond, Ray; Coffman, Antonia, eds. The Simpsons: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family (1st ed.). New York: HarperPerennial. p. 195. ISBN 978-0-06-095252-5. LCCN 98141857. OCLC 37796735. OL 433519M..
- Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian (2000). "Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2009-01-04.
- Dietter, Susie (2005). The Simpsons season 7 DVD commentary for the episode "Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Oakley, Bill (2005). The Simpsons season 7 DVD commentary for the episode "Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Groening, Matt (2005). The Simpsons season 7 DVD commentary for the episode "Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Wheeler, Camille (January 31, 1996). "So They Say...". Austin American-Statesman. pp. C2.
- "Nielsen Ratings". The Tampa Tribune. February 8, 1996. p. 4. Retrieved on January 5, 2009.
- Jacobson, Colin (2006-01-05). "The Simpsons: The Complete Seventh Season (1995)". DVD Movie Guide. Retrieved 2008-12-01.
- Malkowski, Judge (2006-01-16). "The Simpsons: The Complete Seventh Season". DVD Verdict. Retrieved 2008-12-01.
- Foy, Joseph; Schultz, Stanley (2008). Homer Simpson Goes to Washington. University Press of Kentucky. p. 54. ISBN 978-0-8131-2512-1.
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