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Johnny Unusual

Marge the Meanie

I was never into pranks as a kid. I think there can be a fun to it and there's definitely a possibility to create pranks where everyone involved, including the victim can have a good laugh. But even before the disgusting and aggressive pranking in it's modern form, I'm generally hated prank TV shows, thinking about how if it was me, I'd be much more annoyed and frustrated to feel like laughing along. But in fiction, it can be a little more fun with characters getting justice on some meanies and turning the tables.

In this episode, Marge runs into her old middle school principal, who is terrified of her. It turns out Marge, like Bart, was actually something of a prankster in Middle School, in a successful effort to be popular. Marge became regretful of that time but Bart is impressed and finds a newfound admiration for Marge. When Bart and Marge find Comic Book Guy being cruel to patrons at the comic book store, the two prank him, beginning a series of pranks against who Marge decides are worthy targets. However, when one of Marge's pranks sends Mr. Burns to the hospital, she's racked with guilt. Marge sees a therapist who encourages to make up with her old principal. Back at home, Marge vows that she and Bart will give up pranking. Bart seems to talk her out of it and Marge sees her principal to pull a prank on her. Except in fact it turns out to be a prank on Bart to teach him not to prank.

Megan Amram has written two episodes prior to this one and both were pretty strong. This one is a bit of a letdown but a mild let down. It is still a very fun, funny episode with characters getting to bounce off of each other and bond in fun ways. However, my big problem is that by the final act, the structure feels like every third episode of Home Improvement. It's been a while but I feel like a lot of the episodes involved the parents pranking their own kids to teach them a lesson or something. And here, I feel like if the show had anything deeper to say about pranks, Marge's guilt or Bart and Marge's bond, it really gets tossed out the window for a more formulaic conclusion. It's a shame because while the build up also isn't terribly original in concept, it's pretty successful in execution.

After all, there is fun in Marge and Bart not only pulling pranks together but Marge being good at it and finding the kind of victims Marge would want to prank; bullies and meanies. So it would seem a good time to explore "aren't you just a bully if you bully the bullies?" Again, not a terribly original idea but I still think it's worth exploring, as it is in our human nature to want justice against jerks. It's hard to feel sorry for anyone Marge pranks in the present day. I also appreciate that I think of the three big prank set pieces, the first two are clever without being overly complicated (I'm curious if Marge and Bart rubbed and scratched up all the bar codes to ensure price checks on all those embarrassing items in Helen Lovejoy's cart).

The other thing working in this episode, even if it never lands on anything satisfactory in the end, is Marge and Bart bonding. Marge and Bart are one of my favourite pairings in the show for emotional and character beats and here Megan gets how these characters function together in this new context where it still fundamentally feels like the same people. It doesn't reinvent the wheel but it trucks along very well with there characters making for some fun scenes and good chemistry for the actors and characters. So really, it's a good episode, I just feel it lacks an ending with impact, whether it be emotional, comedic or character-based and I feel I don't really have a closure to this episode that leaves me with any real thoughts about it beyond "OK, that was fun" and despite it ending with Marge trying to teach Bart a lesson, I feel like nothing it learned, there's not really growth and I don't understand these characters on a deeper level.

Other great jokes:

"Check out my tattoo."
"Is that rub-on?"

"Do it Marge, prank that guy!"
"For legal reasons you can call me Uber Hombre."
"Once again the lack of clear copyright in my country has screwed me!"

"Can I interest you in a very emotional Spider-Man where Peter Parker confronts and forgives the spider who bit him."

"Maybe Bart's pranking allele is on the maternal chromosome."
"The only part of that I understood was allele."
Other notes:
Hank Azaria does a REALLY GOOD Shaggy "zoinks"

"I've waited for a connection like this for so long. Longer than the new Avatar movie."
"It's coming, Marge. You've just got to have faith"
"You sound just like James Cameron, Homer. What if we never see Pandora again? The real unobtainium is the sequel."

Johnny Unusual

Meat is Murder

This past year, the popular black comedy-drama Succession came to an end, telling the story of the children of an amoral billionaire each vying for power within his company. I haven't seen the show. I would like to. It sounds really good. But sometimes the Simpsons hits on parodies of shows I only know via cultural osmosis, like the 24 episode. The Simpsons can suffer in it's parody, sometimes in clinging to specific references and plot points. The parody usually works better when the show's unique brand of humanity allows the premise of the subject of parody to become a springboard for these characters to do something interesting.

In this episode, it is revealed Krusty Burger was founded 50 years ago by stealing the business model (and their innovations) of a burger joint stolen from Abe Simpson and his partner Augustus Redfield. Half a century later Redfield returns, now a multi-billionaire and claiming victory over Krusty by buying not only Krustyburger but his trademark. Abe and Gus reunite tearfully after 50 years and Gus invites Grandpa to join the board of directors. Grandpa decides to take Lisa because of his trust in her and the two travel to the headquarters of Redfield's company Redstar. There, they meet Redfield's children, including Gus daughter Sheila, who vows that with Grandpa on the board of directors, the company can move towards a more eco-friendly strategy and branding. But to accomplish this, Grandpa must oust Gus from the company and Sheila asks Lisa to convince Abe. Lisa does but it becomes obvious during the meeting that it's a cynical ploy by the children to steal power away from their father. When Abe refuses to stab his friend in the back, Gus reveals Grandpa is only on the board to counter his children's attempted coup. Grandpa is hurt but he has a plan; he feigns mental incompetence, meaning his vote means nothing and ends up leaving the company paralyzed by the deadlock. Lisa apologizes and is amazed that while he was bamboozled 50 years ago, he was able to outplay such a powerful family.

I haven't seen Succession but while this episode clearly has some nods to it, it doesn't get lost in the parody, instead becoming a solid Grandpa/Lisa tale. I would put this as a solid B; it's not particularly amazing but it hits all the basics; a competent story, allowing me to be invested in the journey, and some funny gags. The episode was written by Michael Price, a writer whose episodes I find have been all over the map in terms of quality. I don't think he's had his one big stand-out episode yet but some are decent and some are weaker. This definitely falls into one of his stronger episodes. There's something about the pacing, too; it's not badly paced but when I got to the end, I assumed we were at the half-way point. The good news is it meant I was having as good time but the bad means I feel there's untapped potential in the episode. If given the choice, I think I'm glad A Serious Flanders was given the two part treatment instead of this but this probably would have benefited... especially since stories of intrigue where characters are plotting against each other often work best in a longer form.

One thing that did get my attention is the guest cast. It's pretty great. I mean, I feel like I'm not a big fan of Seth Green, particularly since I guess he is or was into NFTs? *shudder* But he does a good job. And one of the actual Succession actors has a cameo as his character. But for me, it's more about Paul F. Tompkins and Edi Paterson. Great to see as a Comedy Bang Bang fan. And then there's Krysten Ritter, who is also great. And anchoring the whole thing as a Brian Cox-type is scenery chewing legend John Lithgow. Frankly, Lithgow is a treat and I feel like he is a perfect fit for the show to the point that I think he really needs to pull a Herzog and just show up sometimes. Like, I don't need Augustus to be back, just give him a different character. The one downside is PFT and Edi only get a few lines and sadly don't really get to show what they can do as performers. Like, everyone is going good but again, an hour long episode could have allowed more time for fun with these performers.

Overall, it's a slight episode but I still quite enjoyed it. I think it doesn't overplay Grandpa's journey but him being able to outplay the characters does satisfy. It's another episode of the show were the message is "don't trust the rich and don't trust corporations" but despite falling into that formula, it never feels tired as much as it does an ethos of the series. Even when they mean well, they are never the good guys and they rarely mean well. And I think though it doesn't have much to say on that which is different than what the show has said before, I think it could play with what I assume Succession does and toy with the patheticness and pettiness of powerful people, that money can make us less ashamed of our worst qualities and indulge in our worst impulses. Still, I did have a good time. It's not a perfect episode but it does point to the show's current upswing.

Other great jokes:
"Dad, it's not you!"

"He seems pretty with it."
"Really? Then why did he give a seat on the board to a man who tried to make a phone call with a box of raisins."
"Oh, I was hoping you didn't see that. Grandpa calls the raisins 'phone berries'."

Other notes:
Nice touch referencing Mac and Me, the ET knock off with lots of McDonald's branding

Bring back PFT and Edi Paterson. Heck, have Edi just be Beandip. She's a bit raunchy for the show but otherwise she's a good fit for Springfield.

Johnny Unusual

Poorhouse Rock

Season 33... Finito! Only one complete season left. So what did I come away thinking? After the shocking downturn in season 32, things thankfully picked up again and most of the episodes have been pretty strong. There are definitely some weaker ones in there but I feel like this is a solid 73% success rate and... that's not bad for a show in it's 33rd year. People through around terms like "zombie Simpsons" but the truth of it is more complicated, I think. I do think the writers, the actors and the animators never stopped caring or trying (though some episodes feature more clear evidence of effort than others) but something got lost along the way the show was hesitant to fix. I feel like the show was inching towards it so it might be easy to put that on Matt Selman's move to be more of a co-showrunner (and would feed an anti-Al Jean narrative, which frankly, I somewhat buy) but I think something happened that managed to slowly break the show away from that and evolve a little more. It's not wholly unique television, it can't recapture the Golden Age but it manages to be it's own thing in a largely good way. I kept doing these reviews in part out of momentum and in part because I want to explore the virtues even going into an era where I, who stuck with the show through some pretty dire times, eventually gave up. And I've found them but now the digging isn't quite so hard anymore.

In this episode, Homer is annoyed Bart doesn't respect him so he decides to take him to work. Bart sees his dad stumble through his day lazing about and making other people do work for him and get well paid and decides he wants to do what Homer does. But Lisa keeps alluding to difficulty in that direction. When Bart is at Homer's work, he meets a janitor who straight up tells him getting Homer's job is impossible because of the death of the middle class. He brings Bart to the conclusion that the problem is somewhat intractable through the current system so Bart should burn it down. Bart misunderstands and causes a literal fire and he is safe from firefighters. Convinced that fire is the future (as the world is currently on fire), Bart decides to be a fireman.

Poorhouse Rock is a weird one. I think overall I didn't like it but I like a lot ABOUT it. I like the message. I like the fact that it decides to be an episode completely about it's message without metaphor; most of it is not about story, it's an essay about the history of the post-war economy and how the middle class is dead. The episode was inspired by an article about how while originally the Simpsons were shown as a family struggling financially, their actual life by modern standards is unattainable. You can't live like the Simpsons anymore and that's a family that is specifically presented as hard luck. It's a much darker episode than usual too, basically spelling out Bart and Lisa live in a world where the previous generation screwed up their chances and the only good opportunity is being paid to handle the crises they created.

So, yeah, it's an episode that is ambitious and bit and has a lot to say. I respect that. So where does it fall short for me. Some of it is in the little things. Like, I don't like how Lisa coyly and smugly hints that Bart's dream won't work out. I don't mind her taking that attitude with Bart sometimes but I don't like the feeling when it is about someone's dreams, modest as they seem. I also wasn't the biggest fan of the songs and that's half the episode. They aren't God awful but it feels like a pretty basic musical number (the rap segments a little cringe, too. I just don't feel like more Simpsons characters should do rap). I kind of wish if you were going to make a song with a message, especially one I agree with, I kind of wish it would stick in my head more. Doing that means people will remember it. The music as is works in the mode of big and rousing but I won't be humming it tomorrow. If you want to spread a message, spread a message in a way people will remember. I also kind of wish the episode was even more ambitious; the episode is already focused more on it's messaging above character and plot and that's OK for what it wants to accomplish. Different episodes can focus on different methods. Variety is the spice of life. But I wish the entire episode had been the musical and start it in act 1 instead of the Bridgerton parody and Homer fretting about Bart not respecting him.

The episode is written by Tim Long and while I often complain about his episodes (especially when he was on a kick shipping Lisa to Milhouse and Bart to Original Character Please Don't Steal) and I don't like this one, I feel like many of Tim's instincts and approaches are actually good ones. I like that he's essentially trying to make a darker Schoolhouse Rock dealing with the fact that Homer's cushy job is a fantasy in today's America. The episode looked at the article and instead of trying to give us hope or rebut it, it's digging into the American horror story that as much as we want these kids to have the futures that befit their potential, they are being undercut by society and they need to burn down the system. Maybe that's why I did want this to go further; Bart says himself he's good at destroying stuff and I feel like Bart is someone who knows how to take out an unjust foe. If we are already on this tract, why not end the episode with how the everyman can and should fight the system. Overall, I think this is an episode with enough weaknesses that I don't lump it in with the good ones but I respect a lot of what it wants to say and do that I can't entirely dismiss it either.

Other great jokes:

Other notes:
I guess something also rubbed me the wrong way about the singing janitor played by Hugh Jackman. I get what it's doing by having this unrelated character act as a guide but this could have been Lisa.

Johnny Unusual

Habeas Tortoise

Here we are... I'm watching the last "complete" season of the show I haven't seen yet. Now I did watch two episodes of this season already; the Halloween specials, which were shockingly good. I mostly watch them out of habit (though I missed this years Halloween special) even when I gave up on the rest of the series. I really enjoyed them and then people started telling me "oh, the show is actually good now." It really is hard for a long running show like the Simpsons that has gone through so many ups and down to stay on the up, especially since the show seems aware of it's own legacy. Now the show is being written by people who grew up with the show to become good writers as well as a few long-standing writers and the hit count is increasing. I think if you go in accepting something as impactful as the Golden age, of course you may be disappointed. But the writers clearly now want to explore the world rather than regurgitating the past (mostly. It's OK to stop doing stuff with Homer's past. I know the show is continuity light but those are generally weaker episodes) and accepting the show as a well-written show with strong character beats and some decent laughs, the series is now stronger than it's been in about two decades.

In this episode, Homer feels stupid after a thoughtless comment at the library gets him laughed at and decides to cheer himself up at the zoo. When his favourite exhibit, a tortoise named Slow Leonard, seems to be missing from his enclosure, Homer gets worried that something more is happening than meets the eye, especially when Homer jumps to the conclusion that the zookeeper is looking down on him. When the police won't help Homer, he goes online and finds a social media group of locals also concerned about Leonard. Homer shares his theory online and finds the group supportive of his ideas. Eventually, he invites them over to share their ideas and tries to create a non-judgmental space, which quickly evolves into increasingly ridiculous theories. This leads them to start protesting the manager of the zoo and the Simpsons start to worry that it's going into an unhealthy area... and during that conversation, Slow Leonard appears in the Simpson kitchen. Homer reveals he solved the mystery some time ago and Homer found Leonard escaped, living in a rabbit hole near the zoo. Homer was afraid the truth would break up his supportive, non-judgmental group (especially with members Gil and Miss Hoover on the verge of marriage). But at the wedding reception, Homer learns that everyone wants to strike back at the zoo director for the crime they believe she is doing. Homer tries to talk them out of it and the group sees him as an enemy. That's when Marge shows up with Slow Leonard, the others, albeit slowly, become convinced, especially after Homer convinces them to focus less on the conspiracy and more on their community. However, after they get back together, they start formulating conspiracy theories about fried calamari...

Habeas Tortoise is an episode I really really liked. Written by Broti Gupta, it is an episode that is about conspiracy theories, a topic handled before in a few episodes. But the times have changed and so have the nature of conspiracy theories. Before, they used to be sort of fun in a goofy fringe sort of way. Now the more problematic undertones that have always been there have risen to the surface, along with a weird toxic co-dependency where not only is it not fun, it's truly scary and dangerous. There was an attempt to overthrow America a year before based on the theory that Joe Biden actually lost the election. There was a shooting at a pizza parlor based on the theory they held kidnapped children in the basement. It's now truly scary. I think there's probably a good episode that could make it scary but the actual episode comes from a place of empathy and that works.

The empathy is everyone in the group is a bit of an outsider who creates a loving, supportive community. The problem is it is based on delusion and the outside world becomes the villain to them. Homer even starts out his investigation with some interesting evidence but quickly jumps to conclusions about the meaning behind it, if anything to fill out the many blanks in his narrative. Everyone is jumping to conclusions and in the moment for them it seems fine but when Homer realizes someone could get hurt, he speaks out and immediately becomes their enemy. And in the end, while not dangerous again yet, in an attempt to stay together, the characters fall back into old habits. The episode is about people who need to be part of something that makes them feel smart, accomplished and important. They get to be heroes and they are listened to. The episode makes it very easy to see why a seemingly supportive space can become a dangerous echo chamber, acknowledging how something that has positive attributes can transform into something dangerous.

Apparently the episode is inspired by the documentary Don't Fuck with Cats where conspiracy theories about cat death resulted in some terrible fallout. I haven't seen it yet but not knowing that, I still think it is a strong episode on it's own with good character work (even Miss Hoover and Gil are well used, partially because the episode doesn't go too big with them). I like when the Simpsons can care about it's characters without getting overly saccharine and I think this episode threads the needle well where we DO care about the conspiracy group, who aren't evil in intent (they want to help a turtle) but have deluded themselves into the early stages of planning something evil. It's easy to make fun of people like that but the episodes point is fear of mockery is why the characters retreat into their "shells" (the episode isn't subtle about it's metaphors); people can say hurtful things and it can hurt to be hurt. And fear can lead people astray. We want to feel like we are the ones who know what is really going on and we may want to double down when put down. I think Gupta knows this and she's made an episode that could easily be derisive laughter but understands while they can become dangerous, sometimes theorists starting points aren't evil, but even good people can be lead down to some dark, even unforgivable roads.

Other great jokes:
"Free books? What if one of them is the Kama Sutra? That's just bait for learned perverts."

"Thanks for hosting, Homer. I would have but my infinity pool broke. It's edges are now finite. I'm up to my eyeballs in contractors and physicists."

"This protest makes no sense. Why would I kidnap an animal? That's what a zoo is; a bunch of kidnapped animals."

"Uh-oh, body camera's on. Don't worry, you can erase it with a paperclip. They taught us how."
Very real.

"Well, the truth is different these days. It's more of a hunch you're willing to die for."

Other notes:
This episode made me crave paella.

Johnny Unusual

One Angry Lisa

I'm a bit out of shape these days. In the summer, I run but this winter has made it harder. A lot of winter runners around here but my ankles are already not really fit for it. I used to get a lot of workouts done in the gym but I already struggle financially. When I did go to my local Y, I'd mostly hop on a treadmill or elliptical (my favourite) and just push it for a good hour or so. I never wanted a personal trainer as getting as I much prefer a solitary work out. Just me, some music (or a podcast) and the hypnotic rhythm of my workout. But I can see wanting to be a coach. I often coach kids at work to get off their winter clothes rather than just taking them off. But me, I'm not some hard seller trying to get someone to fork over more cash for it.

In this episode, Homer gets Marge a high-end Pedalon stationary bike for Marge's birthday and she loves it. Soon, she finds herself with a virtual remote streaming trainer, Jessie, a handsome man who encourages Marge while she shapes up. Marge becomes obsessed with the workouts and Jessie and Homer starts to get jealous while Marge tells herself and Homer there's no reason. But Marge is clearly head over heels for Jessie and when Homer sees her in a private session lit romantically, Homer uses some info he got from Reverend Lovejoy to track him down. The confrontation leads to a fight in the middle of Marge's session and she tracks Homer down to Jessie's house to save Homer. Marge also discovers the supposed private session is being streamed to the entire class, all who have been told they are in private sessions. Marge and Homer bike off into the sunset.

Now I bet you've read that description and thought... "why is this called One Angry Lisa"? Weirdly, because the title refers to the b-plot, which is a very small part of the episode. And I will say, through Simpsons logic it does make sense with Lisa unable to get out of jury duty due to the fact that she wears pearls and does not talk like an 8 year old. And that b-plot has some moments. I'm mostly tired of the character of Gil but I think he's used well as an inept lawyer. I think this subplot also wants to point out the slapdash and slipshod nature of the court system, particularly in smaller trials but with very little time and a lot of divergent jokes, this feels less laser focused and more "this shit is ridiculous, huh?"

And really, it's not much better than the main episode. I think the show has a good target. Yes, Peladon is perhaps going to date the episode a lot but predatory sales practices are hear to say and I think that's what is at the heart of Jessica Conrad's script; the idea that Marge getting a crush on her coach and getting constant work-outs is all about draining more and more money from her. And Homer tries to get revenge with information from the Church, now owned by Google. There's a theme of the pervading predatory nature of capitalism in the form of fine print and more offers.

But in the end, the episode is just forgettable. I would say that feeling is the only strong element (that and that there's something about having a lot of the episode confined to the sitting room) and while nothing is "bad", it's all just very, very forgettable. I feel like I've seen variations on this before and the episode doesn't go anywhere unexpected. After such a strong opening, I was a little bummed that while I think the episode isn't sloppy, it's just lacking any sort of engagement for me. I am not into the journey, I'm not terribly feeling either Marge's or Homer's feelings strongly and by the episode ends, I've realized exactly how little has happened.

Other notes:

Even the Bill Plympton opening is a bit dull compared to his other ones.

Johnny Unusual

Lisa the Boy Scout

The Simpsons is one of the truly great and important TV series... and it also has a long history of garbage. But that's common for most long running shows. It's nothing to be... entirely ashamed off. Sometimes you try stuff and it doesn't work. And sometimes TV writers through out ideas that are completely bonkers. Seinfeld almost did an episode about guns until Julia Louise-Dreyfus was like "fuck no". Jessie would have been killed in season one of Breaking Bad if not for the writer's strike cutting the season short. Things could be very different and a lot worse if things nudged this way or that. Heck, the right nudge could have saved terrible TV shows. A lot goes into making a show and sometimes you take risks and sometimes they don't pay off.

In this episode, Lisa wants to be a boy scout and competes with Bart for supremacy. After getting lost in the woods, the kids work together to get back to safety. The episode is interrupted by two hackers who threaten to reveal the worse unused ideas the show managed to animated.

Lisa the Boy Scout is an episode that is meant to be a spiritual sequel to 22 Short Stories About Springfield; a series of silly sketches. In 22 Short Stories, we get to see side characters do more and allow the show to play in it's world. But since then, the show has done that a lot so in this case, the show is instead mocking it's long history and the fact that the show has done some weird stuff. Producer Matt Selman encouraged the writers to use as many "unusable" ideas as possible for a series of bizarre silly sketches. Some are breaking the rules of the show, like revealing Martin Prince as a 36 year old undercover cop or Santa's Little Helper can talk. Others feel like just dumb jokes, like Willie and the Sea Captain having a conversation entirely in "Aye" and "Yarr" or Lisa calling 911 but refusing to stop speaking French, as she is in an immersion class.

You can tell that the writer's are having a blast coming up with the most ridiculous ideas possible. Not all of them work. I don't need the show to do more references to Simpsons predicts and the Frink and Lisa speaks French segments aren't that strong. They aren't bad, either but I feel like these sketches work better the more they swing for the fences with weirdness. Like the sketch where we learn the real reason there are so many "sarcastic guys" in Springfield. Also, the section where the writers were basically asked to come up with stupid titles that they couldn't make episodes about. If there's something I love more than anything, it's tortured wordplay.

Though some of the bits don't work as well as others, the only real weak link is the framing device, which I really don't think lands. I love the meta-idea of a very generic looking episode of the show interrupted by the reveal of a weird meta-episode but the shtick mostly doesn't land. And that's a shame because guest star Anna Faris is just a really funny, talented actor. But there's also really cool stuff, like a REALLY strong recreation of the look of the first few seasons, complete with vintage animated look and old aspect ratio. And I love the decision not only to eventually start inserting actual clips from actual episodes but the best part is it NEVER breaks kayfabe and admits these episodes are real. I can see why people were all about this episode when it aired, one of the few episodes people seemed to be talking about in forever. I strongly recommend it and it's the kind of thing I like to see with non-continuity episodes; just being as silly as all get out.

Favourite bits:
Lenny isn't real
Skinner is seeing another mother
The Terrifying Secret of Sarcastic guy...

Other great jokes:






"No one cares. The only ones still watching that show are football fans who fall asleep with the TV on."

Johnny Unusual

The King of Nice

It's interesting that in daytime and late night talk show TV, some of the people who appear as the most wholesome, friendly alternatives have toxic work environments. Ellen, Jimmy Fallon, James Corden I must assume (he seems like he kind of sucks in other ways, I just assume his talk show is a nightmare behind the scenes). In some cases, I think these are just toxic people, in others, I think they are people who simply don't want to acknowledge what's happening and look the other way, which is also pretty bad. I know there are nice people in the world and I can understand wanting to see a charismatic one 5 days a week but it always hurts when it turns out the people who are making the stuff we loved are treated terribly.

In this episode, Krusty learns he can make big bucks on daytime TV with minimal effort and works with Lindsay Nagel as producer to create his own talk show. During a focus group meeting Marge impresses Lindsay so much with her ideas that she's immediately hired as segment producer. At first Marge loves coming up with ideas for a "nice" show but Lindsay's physically and emotionally abusive nature runs riot through the set. Even Marge isn't immune and eventually the stress causes her to have a bit of toxicity in her. The family and her friends try to hold an intervention but Marge doesn't want to hear it and storms off to work on the show when it is revealed that the toxic work environment has been exposed. Everyone works all night to produce Krusty's apology episode but when Marge shows over a crew worker she sees how toxic she's become. She interrupts Krusty's show to announce the problem isn't him, it's the daytime TV system but Krusty, after a brief phone call, claims the problem is entirely on his shoulders and quits the show. Marge tries to convince him it wasn't his fault but Krusty reveals he doesn't care; he only did it because an even better opportunity came along. But with no show, Marge finally feels free.

The King of Nice is a solid outing for the show. I wasn't happy with Jessica Conrad's last episode but I feel like in this one she is doing a much better job with a Marge story. Marge stories tend to be about the fact that she's a good or nice person but either has her goodness threatened or it runs into a situation that it would seem it cannot solve. This story is more the former, where Marge just gets into a job to make people happy and do nice things but the toxicity of Lindsay Nagel spills all over everyone and even Marge becomes shitty and a nervous wreck. There are lots of episodes about how Marge becomes a monster and then pulls back at the last moment and this episode is about how monsters are created by two things; monsters and negligence.

Obviously, Lindsay is the monster here and negligence is represented by Krusty. It would be easy to make him the toxic force. Heck, he usually is on his own show (a fact the episode notes). Krusty instead is just enjoying his low effort job and constantly marvels about how easy it is and is so hands off with the show that he doesn't notice that Lindsay is abusing the workers. But it is damning that when he learns, he decides to dump off a empty gesture apology and then takes the blame only when it will cost him something. Marge works hard to see that the problem is bigger than him even in the end and it's a good point but it's clear Krusty is the kind of person to let it happen and just would rather remain ignorant if possible. It's his show and he doesn't know what's happening and doesn't care.

Now Jessica Conrad hasn't worked on a daily talk show but she has worked on Saturday Night Live, a program that certainly has not without backstage drama and is famous for being a real stressful grind. Heck, Lorne Michaels has a fairly predatory contract that allows him to profit from his performers work up to 5 years after they leave the show. I would not be surprised if this was at least a partial inspiration for this episode. I think this episode definitely makes more of an impact than One Angry Lisa and it feels like while in both she had something interesting to say, this pans out a lot better and has a few great jokes to boot.

Other great jokes:

"We're just worried about you, Marge, Look, even your best friend Luann is here."
"Best friend?"
"Oh, we haven't had the conversation yet, but it's unspoken."
Oh, Luann, this is some real Milhouse vibes.

I like the bit where everyone at the intervention isn't sure what to do without Marge.

Other notes:
It's funny Drew Berrymore guests in a cameo considering how she really fucked up during the strike.