Recap: The Simpsons S 2 E 7 Bart Vs Thanksgiving
Episode - 7F07
First Aired - 11/22/1990
The definitive Thanksgiving episode – and the only true one in Simpsons' history – is Bart vs. Thanksgiving
, where Bart learns the meaning of the holiday, remorse and forgiveness after getting into a fight with his family and running away from home.
It is Thanksgiving Day, and Homer is watching Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade on TV. Lisa is meticulously assembling a centerpiece to place on the family dinner table, while Marge is busy cooking and preparing for the guests – Patty, Selma, Jacqueline and Grampa. Bart is basically getting in everyone's way. Later, as the guests assemble at the table, Lisa brings in the centerpiece and proudly shows it off, just as Bart brings in the turkey. When Bart tries to jockey for position in placing the turkey platter, he gets into an argument with Lisa about where her centerpiece should be set, resulting in a fight and, in the middle of the ruckus, the centerpiece lands inside the fireplace and instantly is destroyed in the flames. Lisa is devastated and runs to her room in tears, while Bart refuses to accept responsibility. An angry Marge – with Homer (in a rare move) backing her up – sends Bart to his room without dinner, and declares that because of him, "you ruined Thanksgiving!"
Bart is told that if he can legitimately apologize and mean it, he will be allowed to dinner, but a stubborn Bart insists that he did nothing wrong and that Lisa was to blame. Bart continues to sulk and decides he's going to show his parents a thing or two – by running away. Santa's Little Helper, who had been thrown out of the house, decides to join Bart as they wander through town. Bart first stops at a house that happens to be Mr. Burns' mansion, where he tries to swipe a freshly baked pie but is run off by Burns' bloodthirsty hounds. Later, after giving blood at a local blood bank (that happened to be open on Thanksgiving Day) for $12 cash, Bart passes out on the streets in a run-down part of Springfield. When he awakens is greeted by two street bums who bring him to a community Thanksgiving dinner for the less fortunate. There, Kent Brockman is preparing to do an insincere, self-serving commentary about the holiday and how society treats the poor and needy; during his live commentary, he interviews Bart, who claims he's homeless and "didn't apologize." Homer and Marge see the report and call the police, admitting to officers their fear that they may have been too harsh with Bart.
Meanwhile, Bart and the two homeless urchins begin to have a conversation, where Bart – seeing that his two new friends have no family or anything else – admits he has a family that loves and cares for him, and that he has plenty to be thankful for. He begins to feel remorseful and, after giving his $12 to the bums, decides to go home … dejected and realizing he may have learned something about the meaning of the holiday Thanksgiving.
Upon returning home, he hesitates going inside after envisioning his family blaming him for everything. But when he hears Lisa crying in her room and conceding defeat, Bart calls her outside and – after some initial struggles – apologizes. Homer and Marge are relieved that all is okay between the two, and the Thanksgiving holiday at the Simpsons is saved. The episode ends with the family enjoying leftovers in the kitchen, with Homer thanking God for giving them "one more crack at togetherness".
This episode contains examples of:
- Heel Realization: This is what finally gets Bart to apologize to Lisa. Though it takes Lisa badgering him to finally realize it.
- Imagine Spot: Bart has one as he's about to return home, thinking the family will blame him for everything if he apologizes.
- It's All My Fault: Bart hears Lisa crying in her room telling herself that she can't help but feel responsible for Bart running away. Homer and Marge also feel this way looking back at the nasty things they said.
Marge: Homer, this is a terrible thing that's happened, but we can't blame ourselves.
Homer: We can and we will!
- Never My Fault: The driving force of the plot is Bart thinking he shouldn't apologize for what he did. In the end, it is reversed.
- Recursive Canon: Probably one of the earliest examples of this trope, when Bart and Homer watch the Macy's Parade on TV, a Bart balloon can be seen, referencing the introduction of a real Bart balloon in that year's parade.
Homer: If you start building a balloon for every flash-in-the-pan cartoon character, you’ll turn the parade into a farce.
- The Runaway: Bart
- They Wasted a Perfectly Good Sandwich: Mr. Burns who has a table of food that could feed people for months. He only eats a little of the slice of turkey and orders the rest to be thrown out, and is waiting for the pumpkin pie.
- Scape Goat: Bart imagines that everyone will blame him for everything from Homer being bald to America losing it's way on him if he apologizes to Lisa.
- Something Completely Different: This has few laughs in it and the tone is more on par with what you would find in a less preachy Very Special Episode of a live-action sitcom.
- Special Guest: Greg Berg as Rory (a homeless man at the soup kitchen)
- Thanksgiving Episode: While "Homer vs. Dignity" and "Homer the Moe" also have Thanksgiving in the plot, those episodes aired on Sunday instead of Thursday and had Thanksgiving shoehorned into the final act. This episode actually aired on Thanksgiving (which is on the last Thursday of November in America. Canadian Thanksgiving is in October) and centered on a Thanksgiving meal gone bad. While many Thanksgiving episodes indeed are about ill-fated dinners, and there's plenty of in-jokes and gags, critics lauded this episode because it had actual sentiment and one of its central characters was enlightened about the meaning of the holiday (after he runs into two homeless men who have very little if anything).
- Was Too Hard on Him: Homer and Marge feel this way when the police interview them about Bart. Lou and Eddie are clearly stunned themselves when Marge says she told Bart he ruined Thanksgiving.
- You Answered Your Own Question: "Hello, operator! Get me the number for 911!"