Bart’s done it this time. After failing a quiz, he’s given one more chance or he’ll repeat the fourth grade. Given the severity of the situation, he buckles down and tries to study. Out of desperation, he even gets his natural enemy, Martin Prince, to help him. With test day looming, Bart prays for a snowstorm so he’ll have more time. his prayers are answered, but he still has a hard time focusing. Surely enough, test day arrives and Bart fails. While crying about it, he mentions a historic event. Considering it applied knowledge, Edna gives him an extra point and Bart passes.
One of the reasons I always liked Bart was that I could relate to his plight. I was never good in school and so I identify a lot with this episode. So can anyone who has ever been considered a bad student. There are things you understand as a bad student that this episode touches upon: the parent teacher conferences, talks of being held back, the feeling of shame, etc. David M. Stern clearly did his homework.
The snow day sequence is probably one of my favorites of the season. While colourful and fun to watch, it also helps to articulate Bart’s frustration as he tries to study. It’s winter wonderland out there, with snowball fights, skating, music, and other frivolities beloved by kids. It gets so bad, Bart has no other choice but to lock himself in the basement. It’s a sign of Bart’s commitment to passing.
When Bart finally takes the test, there’s a sense of gloom. He knows he’s going to fail and he faces one of the hardest things to accept in life: you don’t always succeed. There aren’t many movies or TV shows that have that lesson, so it was kind of a shock. In the end he still does get a happy ending, but I’d say that he went to hell and back to get there so it’s well deserved.
During the first season Bart became a pop culture icon. His face was on shirts featuring the slogan “Underachiever and proud of it” but when the school psychiatrist says something similar, it’s obviously not true. It’s very likely that reinforcing this idea too much could have killed the show as it would have become stale. Thankfully, they decided to explore how Bart really feels. The second season opener was a strong indicator of what was to come. While the laughs would always be there, the show wasn’t just a comedy. As I said before, this episode hits deep. Bart will always be the character I identify with most and this episode is why.
Final score: 5.0/5.0