One of the Least Popular Characters But Perhaps the Girl Who Best Holds The Simpsons Together
Jul 28, 2009
I have a confession to make: of all The Simpsons characters in the immediate family, Lisa is by far my favorite of the lot. There are times when Lisa can be a preachy know-it-all. In particular, however, I enjoy Lisa for the reason so many don't. She's someone that we can all relate to. As such, she's the closest thing to "human" you can find in The Simpsons. While Homer and Bart are the ones responsible for the humor (Homer being among the best characters as well, although I argue that the best episodes are the ones which focus on Homer and Lisa as a whole).
Let us get one thing straight... Lisa is hardly not that popular because of her brain. The Simpsons is a fairly clever and witty show all on its own. People enjoy the show in part because of its intelligence. Part of the reason Lisa isn't exactly the most well loved character happens to be much more because she doesn't bring a whole lot of comedy to the show. What she does bring however is the cream of the intelligence crop in The Simpsons.
Lisa is the smart little girl who often provides rationality where the family often doesn't have it. In earlier seasons she was often shunned, but found to be either right, or someone to compromise with. Homer in particular, is always a character who is willing to see Lisa's ideas to the end and encourage her. As is Marge. But in many of Lisa's best moments Homer is usually at the forefront of them. Within the confines of Lisa she can't seem to exist without her family. When she isn't teaming with Homer, she is often there with Bart as the two go and investigate whatever could be happening in Springfield.
Lisa gets more episodes than Marge at least. And perhaps it's just as good. Even most Simpsons fans come to like episodes which focus on Lisa as being some of the shows best. She may not provide most of the humor but she does give the show something. She's like Hank in King of the Hill. She gives the show a sense of reality. A way to invite us into the world of Springfield.
Despite her intelligence, the show never forgets that Lisa is a little girl. She still loves dolls and horses. For Christmas one year she asked for nothing but a pony. How the show finds balance with Lisa regarding this is quite unique. Yet when her intellectual side and girlish love combine, this is often when one gets to see the best of Lisa Simpson.
In other seasons, Lisa has actually become an annoying know-it-all, however. This really IS annoying actually. In most other episodes Lisa had an opposition that wasn't simply stupid. There were episodes where even Lisa lost. Nowadays even when she loses she's right. It can be annoying. It is also part of the reason why so many of the newer episodes can sometimes feel unbalanced. The Simpsons used to be a show that makes fun of everyone. Now Lisa has become the political puppet in much the same way Brian Griffin is in Family Guy. But she hardly has any opposition.
Despite this, when focusing on many of the classic episodes... Lisa is by far one of the most versatile characters. She's also the character most of us can best relate to.
So what are some of Lisa's best episodes? Well, there are dozens to choose from. She has a good haul of them. We're only going to choose TEN. They are in no particular order:
1. Lisa's Substitute This isn't just one of the best Lisa episodes, it's easily one of the best of the series. This one is one of the few that's almost all Lisa. Yet, as I said above, her best episodes often involve Homer in some way. When Lisa finds a substitute that she falls in love with, she is forced to realize that her father is an oaf. Yet she also reconciles with this. Because while Homer is an oaf and not all that smart at all, she does come to realize that Homer is a good father. One who makes her laugh through his baffoonery and isn't ashamed that he is an oaf. In this episode Lisa comes to the realization of who she is and who her father is. The most memorable moment may be when Lisa opens up a piece of paper from her sub to see that it says, "You are Lisa Simpson." The second memorable moment is when Homer comes to comfort his daughter at the end. It is one of Lisa's most heartwarming moments.
2. Stark Raving Dad It's hard to say just who this episode revolves around the most. But one thing is for sure... at the center of it is Lisa Simpson. Homer goes to an insane asylum and meets a man who claims to be Michael Jackson. When he comes back it happens to be Lisa's Birthday, but it appears that everyone has forgotten. It is Bart, along with "Michael Jackson" who give Lisa the best gift of all. A song. Here's the "authentic" version of the song that was actually performed by Jackson.
3. Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington This is a classic episode that hardly gets broadcasted. It is also one of the few episodes that Lisa has all to herself. Where Lisa writes an essay and goes to Washington. In one of the more hilarious moments they actually think that Homer must've helped her. But then in Washington she watches a bribe and loses faith in Democracy. It is probably Lisa's strongest moment as an outspoken, intelligent little girl. It also shows that within the face of adversity... Lisa is incorruptable. She would rather read an essay which is critical of Democracy than win a contest by lying about her own ideals and beliefs. This is something we can all admire. In another episodes (not listed here) she tears up a 12,000,000 check from Mr. Burns because the way he got that money was not at all what she agreed with (and subsequently gives Homer a heart attack... twice). But this is where we first discover that Lisa has principles... and sticks by them. And yet...
4. Lisa's Pony We also see that Lisa is willing to make sacrifices for the well being of others, even if it means she can't have what she wants. In this classic episode after getting upset at Homer for letting her down (notice how Homer is also at the focal point again in a Lisa Simpson episode). To make up for it... Homer buys Lisa what she always wanted... a pony. But in order to do it Homer has to take on two jobs. Upon Marge seeing the toll it takes on Homer, she brings it to Lisa's attention... but leaves the decision up to Lisa. And Lisa ultimately decides to sacrifice what she always wanted for the well being of her father. But also because she cares about him. This is one of the most heartwarming episodes for Homer and Lisa.
5. Lisa the Greek One of the best Homer and Lisa moments. Lisa has a gift for telling who can win football games which Homer exploits for gambling. When Lisa finds out she's been used... she gives Homer an ultimatum using her "greek" abilities. Whoever wins the Super Bowl will decide whether or not Lisa loves her father. In the end, of course, Lisa loves Homer, but in the episode Homer discovers that he does care about his daughter much more than we are able to see from earlier on.
6. Lisa's Wedding Again, one of the few episodes where Lisa basically has it all to herself. But this is by far one of the best. Where some of the best qualities of Lisa really come together. Her principles and most important: The Love of Her Family. Lisa sees hear future where she meets a man named Hugh... and falls in love because they are so alike. Despite Lisa being a little ashamed of her family and nervous about introducing Hugh, one thing comes through in the episode. She still loves them. When Hugh refuses to carry on Homer's tradition, Lisa is hurt. And when Hugh proposes that after the wedding they'll never have to see them again, Lisa is infuriated. "You complain about them more than anyone!" Hugh tells Lisa. To which Lisa replies in a very heartfelt way, "That may be... but I still love them." Lisa is willing to give up a soul mate for her family. In spite of their flaws.
7. Lisa the Iconolist Aside from Lisa's Substitute, this is often my favorite Lisa episode. Here we see just how much Lisa is willing to push people together. But it also shows her intelligence, the love of her father, and how she can still maintain her principles while maintaining the love of those around her. In this fantastic episode, as Springfield is celebrating its founder Jebediah Springfield, Lisa uncovers that he was actually a vicious priate named Hans Sprungfeld who tried to kill George Washington. She writes a paper in which she exposes him and gets an "F" even though it's the truth. Lisa is devestated until one person comes to her aid and says he believes her. Homer Simpson. Together they try to expose Jebediah: "Super Fraud". The curator of the museum finally discovers that Lisa is right. And when she stands in front of the entire town with what she has discovered, Lisa takes a look around and sees that this is the one time the town truly comes together. Rather than expose him, Lisa simply says, "He's great!" When asked why she replies that this is an even that brings out the heart of the town. She holds on to what she has uncovered but shows she does not have to always be right. She maintains her own individual principle's while showing her own love for Springfield. This is by far one of Lisa's most powerful episodes. As she stands up to adversity and compromises within herself in the end.
8. Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy This is another episode which doesn't get shown much, but it is often on the list of "Best. Simpsons. Episode. Ever." lists. Here, Lisa is upset to see that Malibu Stacy portrayed as a dumb bimbo girl whose messages only seem to influence girls that having good looks is all that matters. Lisa is upset because looks aren't exactly something she doesn't have. Even the creator of Malibu Stacy is upset. So Lisa tries to change things. In the end she utimately fails, but she does get through to one girl, and that's good enough for her. Again, it's one of the few episodes that is almost all about Lisa. Yet she learns a tough message... the first being is that she can't always win. Indeed it is a lesson that Lisa experiences time and time again, but here it is interesting because we want Lisa to win. Her arguments are good ones, but she is ultimately defeated just because Malibu Stacy has a hat.
9. I Love Lisa Valentine's Day is nice on The Simpson but none have been as nice as this one. Where Lisa decides to be nice to Ralph and give him a Valentine. In doing so, Ralph develops a crush on Lisa. And he lets her know she'll do anything. Lisa gets so annoyed that she eventually breaks his heart... on live TV. But unfortunately she's also in the school play with Ralph. Ralph, in spite of devistation does a fantastic job. In the end Lisa agrees to be his friend, despite that he doesn't "love" her. IT's hard to say this is really a Lisa episode. It is certainly more about Ralph. But it shows Lisa as what she really is: A nice girl who is often socially awkward.
10. Lisa's First Word This is probably one of the cutest episodes of The Simpsons. And one of the best Lisa/Bart pairings. I had a hard time deciding what could be number ten. There are numerous, but I enjoy this episode a great deal because it showcases not just who Lisa is, but also her love for her brother in a way that most episodes can never convey. It's also one of the best Maggie episodes thanks to a cute ending. The episode is a flashback about Lisa's first word (because Marge doesn't want to recount Bart's) as they are trying to get Maggie to talk.. In this flashback Marge gets pregnant and Bart is dealing with being an only child. And he loves being an early child. When Lisa is born Bart's first words to her are, "I hate you!" But Lisa doesn't seem to know. In spite of all the torture Bart puts Lisa through, including trying to mail her, cutting her hair and pushing her through the doggy door of the Flander's home... Lisa stays around. Bart finally decides he wants to leave. Telling Lisa that he liked it when it was just "Me, Mom and Homer. You ruined everything." Just before he gets out the door, Lisa utters her first word. "Bart!" And she says it over and over and over again. "Well, I'm not surprised," Marge tells the young two year-old Bart, "Lisa's crazy about you!"
And in several episodes we realize that Lisa is, indeed, crazy about her brother.
These are ten of my favorite Lisa episodes in spite of there being dozens of others. Episodes like "Lisa the Skeptic" and "Lisa on Ice" are also among my favorites, but I love these the most. They're in no particular order but my favorite two are always: "Lisa's Substitute" and "Lisa the Iconolist". They are my favorite Lisa Simpson episodes.
Join me next time as I take a look at Homer Simpson and try to condense Homer down into ten of his best episodes! That's going to take some time. After that, join me as we discuss Bart, Marge and even Maggie.
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About the reviewer
Sean A. Rhodes (Sean_Rhodes)
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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