Welcome to Welcome to Springfield, a OneOfUs column that re-examines The Simpsons series episode by episode to establish what made it a cultural icon, and to determine what went wrong. It’s a lofty goal, but Andrew is just the man to do it.
Summary: Its Marge’s birthday and Bart and Lisa have made her breakfast,but Homer assumes its for him and reveals he’s forgotten Marge’s Birthday. He runs to the mall to find her something, while she arranges dinner for the night. At dinner Homer suprises Marge with a bowling ball and causes a scene when he drops it on the cake. Mad at Homer Marge takes the ball and goes bowling and catches the eye of Jacque, professional bowler, and ladies man. As the lessons continue Homer gets worried while Marge is enjoying them even though Jacque is clearly putting the moves on her but she doesn’t notice. eventually Marge is put into a position where it’s either Homer or Jacque and she decides to stick with Homey.
Review: It’s about time for a Marge-centric episode. After nine episodes, the Simpsons’ matriarch is just now getting her first one. This isn’t the first show to have an episode about the temptation to be unfaithful, but it’s one of the few that looks at how marital woes can affect the children, another important group of people to consider in a marriage.
There’s a lot more emotional development for Homer near the end of the episode. He knows he’s messed up and he knows that he could lose Marge. Even though he doesn’t know what to say, he tries because he can’t go on without her. He’s so hurt about the prospect of losing her that he can’t even eat the sandwich she made. Eating is one of Homer’s favorite activities, so he must be hurting pretty badly.
Jacques was the second character to be played by Albert Brooks and his characterization is wonderful. When we see him, he has his own score which illustrates his allure to Marge. He’s caring, witty, and mysterious. But when we see him in his apartment, we see what he really is: a womanizer who looks at Marge as just another trophy for his collection.
This episode shows just how much Marge really means to the family. She’s not just a supporting character, she’s the glue that holds the whole family together. In the midst of all the whacky things Homer, Bart, and even Lisa do. it’s Marge who is the calm center making sure there’s a family to come back to when things go poorly.
Being a bit older you appreciate this episode more. Some of you reading this may have parents who have divorced, so you might have a direct appreciation of how harsh it can be on an entire family. In this episode, Marge’s drive features people in various stages of marriage and it reminds us the commitment a marriage is supposed to be.
Final Score: 4.0/5.0