Episode - 7G06
First Aired - 2/11/1990
And this morning, my own mother gave my last cupcake away.
My dad acts like he belongs, he belongs in the zoo.
I'm the saddest kid in Grade #2.
Lately, Lisa is feeling depressed about life, but doesn't want to talk about it as no one truly understands what she's going through, so Lisa runs away and befriends a homeless, black saxophonist named Bleeding Gums Murphy. Meanwhile, Homer gets help from a video game master at the local arcade so he can beat Bart in a two-player boxing video game.
This episode contains examples of:
- Adult Fear: Marge taking Lisa away from Bleeding Gums Murphy, even though the two of them were getting along.Marge: (to Murphy) Nothing personal, I just fear the unfamiliar.
- Almighty Mom: Even Homer is scolded by Howard's mom for playing video games with little children.
- Bowdlerization: A lot of the violence in the boxing video game (including Homer's nightmare of Bart beating him) was edited when shown on BBC Two in the UK.
- Call-Back: The chalkboard gag "I will not instigate revolution" references the previous episode where Bart uses war-like tactics to fight back against Nelson.
- Catapult Nightmare: Homer wakes up from his dream screaming when Bart beats him in a boxing match.
- Characterisation Click Moment: Lisa for the large part in the early shorts and episodes was just a slightly more savvy version of Bart. This episode established a more precocious, self-aware, and melancholy side to her (as well as her passion for jazz music), that would slowly transform into the insecure TV Genius characterisation she had in seasons after.
- Characterization Marches On: This episode helped set Lisa apart from being a female Bart as a more introspective, soulful and creative type. But later episodes she became more of an overachiever obsessed with school grades and social causes, with her apparent issues with depression shown in this episode rarely, if ever, shown again. It also hints that she feels overlooked and ignored, while later episodes more focus on Lisa getting all the attention for being a prodigy and Bart feeling overshadowed.
- Cool Shades: Howard wears sunglasses.
- Divergent Character Evolution: The first appearance of Lisa as the brainy, wise sibling rather than a troublemaking female clone of Bart.
- Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Lisa said this to Bart after he was ordered by Marge into cheering her up.Bart: Hey.Lisa: I don't want your pity.
- Early Installment Character Design Difference: Ralph Wiggum first appears in this episode, but he's just a regular kid instead of The Ditz he would become.note
- Epic Fail: Bart beats Homer so badly in the boxing video game that it shows Homer's boxer being lowered into a grave. Bart's boxer dances on his opponent's grave.
- Fictional Video Game: Super Slugfest, a boxing game that Homer becomes obsessed with beating Bart at; it has arcade and console versions (the latter with single button Atari 2600-style controllers).
- Flashback: Marge's dream is a memory of her childhood, where Jacqueline tells her to smile so that people will know how good a mother she has.
- Hard Truth Aesop:
- Marge tells Lisa to shove down her sad feelings and fit in by always smiling no matter what because that's what her mother taught her even though it made her miserable, but she changes her tune once she sees Lisa smiling through the regular pains of her day within a few seconds of getting to school: bullying from other kids and derision from teachers who won't let her express herself in her music. Marge then tells her to just feel however she wants and her family will be there for her regardless, with the lesson ending up "Learn the difference between parenting and parroting, because parents can be wrong in ways that will destroy their children emotionally."
- Issues with depression have no easy answers, nor do they have an obvious cause that can be addressed directly. Lisa sings about her annoyance with Homer and Bart, and expressing herself with music helps a little, but even she admits she doesn't really know why she's sad.
- Hidden Heart of Gold: Marge asks Bart if he loves Lisa. Bart says they all know the answer, but he doesn't want to have to actually say it.
- Hope Spot: Just when Homer is about to finally beat Bart at the game, Marge unplugs it so she can talk to both of them.
- It's All About Me: Both Homer and Marge are shown to be incredibly neglectful in this episode. Homer cares more about a video game and the fact that the bowling alley is closing down than his daughters depression, while Marge tells Lisa to suppress her sadness and smile because it makes her look better. At least, Marge learned the error of her ways.
- A Lesson Learned Too Well: Marge tries to give Lisa a tip to handle her depression by repeating a lesson her own mother gave to her: be a Stepford Smiler and shove it all deep inside. Lisa instead becomes an Extreme Doormat who allows people to step on her and accepts making their homework with a smile on her face. Marge however defies this after a few seconds of seeing how Lisa is gonna take her lesson by pulling her back into the car and telling her that it's okay for Lisa to act however she feels like and Marge will support her every step of the way.
- Limited Animation: There's a strange moment at the beginning of the episode when Bart stands perfectly still and his pupils are digitally moved downward.◊
- Mama Bear: Marge immediately puts a stop to Lisa suppressing her feelings when she sees Lisa being bullied.
- Misplaced Retribution: Lisa is in such a depressed state that the school takes notice and sends a note home to her parents, and even then out of worry rather than her being in trouble. Homer's so used to Bart being in trouble with the school instead that, in response, he punishes his son anyway by making him vacuum the entire house, despite Bart not doing anything wrong. Bart understandably is less than pleased with this and also makes sure to vacuum up a deck of Homer's playing cards in retaliation.Homer: In times of trouble you've gotta go with what you know, now hop to it, Boy!
- Never My Fault: A minor example. In her song, Lisa mentions that Marge gave her last cupcake away, even though Lisa told her to because "A simple cupcake will bring me no pleasure". Bart even tried to point out that Homer clearly didn't even need more cupcakes.
- Nightmare Sequence: After losing to him so often in the game, Homer dreams about engaging in a Super Slugfest boxing match with Bart. Bart mercilessly beats him and gives him a "Reason You Suck" Speech as he does it; with Homer waking up screaming just as Bart finishes him off with a huge windmill punch.Bart: Put up your dukes, Homer! (swings a left hook at him)Bart: I am going easy on you. (begins laying into Homer with a barrage of punches) But you're just so old. (punches him hard each time) And slow! And weak!Homer: (is sent flying backward) No!Bart: And PATHETIC! (winds up for his finishing punch)Homer: NO! BART! NOOOOOOOOOO!(Bart throws the final punch; right as it hits, Homer wakes up screaming loudly)
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Bart does this to Homer in the video game so often that he has a nightmare about it. He's the boxer getting pummeled and his pleas for mercy are ignored.
- Not Me This Time: Marge tells Homer about a note she received from school, and the latter immediately thinks that Bart is the one in trouble. Bart proves it when he sees the note is about Lisa.
- Off-Model: Special mention goes to this face Moe makes◊, making him almost look like an animal.
- Pac-Man Fever: Bart and Homer play a contemporary-looking game using Atari 2600-style controllers.
- Shout-Out: Video games: Mike Tyson's Punch Out takes center stage, as "Super Slugfest" is patterned directly off the legendary game. Other games in the arcade are "Eat My Shorts" (an early Simpsons Shout Out), Itchy & Scratchy and "Pac Rat" (a parody of Pac-Man).
- Special Guest: Ron Taylor as "Bleeding Gums" Murphy.
- Stepford Smiler: Marge encourages Lisa to be this, as her mother had enforced upon her beforehand. She takes it back when it only makes her a doormat to people around her.
- Superior Successor: Homer dreads how Bart keeps beating him at that video game.Homer: Y'know, Marge, getting old is a terrible thing. I think the saddest day of my life was when I realized I could beat my dad at most things. And Bart experienced that at the age of four.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: When Marge says they got a note from school, Homer immediately accuses Bart of misbehavior.Bart: I didn't do it. Nobody saw me do it. There's no way they can prove anything.
- Take a Third Option: Bart and Lisa stand on opposite sides of the living room and ask Maggie to walk to the one she loves the most. After looking at both of them, she just walks over to the TV and hugs it.
- Vengeance Denied: Homer manages to get this close to finally beating Bart at the boxing game just once, and then Marge shuts down the game right at the very nanosecond before Homer's character knocks out Bart's, followed by Bart deciding to quit playing the game ever again to maintain his unbroken streak. Homer can only languish at all of this.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: After getting tips from a kid at the Noiseland Arcade, Homer goes to face Bart one more time in the boxing game. He had the winning advantage and he would've won after so many beatings if Marge hadn't come in and unplugged the game to get the boys' attention. And then Bart says he gives up on the game to make sure his winning streak remains unbroken.