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Recap / The Simpsons S1 E9 "Life on the Fast Lane"

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Episode - 7G11
First Aired - 3/18/1990

It's Marge's birthday and Homer gets her a present: a bowling ball, for which Marge initially has no use. To spite him, she takes lessons — and encounters a suave French bowler (voiced by Albert Brooks) who wants to have sex with her.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Birthday Episode: Marge's 34th birthday is celebrated in the first act of this episode.
  • Blatant Lies: Homer said he had his name inscribed on the bowling ball to make sure Marge would remember it's a gift from him. Then, Marge told Jacques "Homer" is her ball's name.
  • Bowling for Ratings: Homer gets Marge a bowling ball with his name engraved in it for her birthday. Marge decides to take up bowling lessons out of spite, and encounters Jacques, a French bowler.
  • Bridal Carry: Parodied:
    Homer: I'm going to the back seat of my car with the woman I love, and I won't be back for TEN MINUTES!
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  • The Casanova: Jacques is somewhat of a Casanova and mainly seems to try to seduce his clients instead of actually teaching them anything.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • During Marge's phone conversation with Patty and Selma, Maggie can be seen sucking her pacifier repeatedly, a concept dropped in later episodes as it was deemed too much of a distraction from the dialogue.
    • This is the last episode from Season 1 to have no Couch Gag. Some future episodes would abbreviate the opening sequence, but they'd do so by cutting out either the shots of the Simpsons travelling through Springfield, or everything between the show's logo and the Simpsons arriving at home. Aside from Halloween specials, the next episode not to have a Couch Gag at all is "You Kent Always Say What You Want" from Season 18.
  • Encouraged Regifting: Homer buys Marge a bowling ball as a gift, despite her never bowling once in her life. He is so unsubtle about his intentions he even has his name engraved on it in advance.
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  • Establishing Character Moment: Helen Lovejoy makes her first appearance where she meets Marge and Jacques at the diner. Here we see her gossipy busy-body nature, her status as the minister's wife and that Marge is very uncomfortable around her.
  • Everything's Sexier in French: Jacques has a French accent and is a Casanova.
  • Forgotten Birthday: Homer forgets Marge's birthday and ends up getting her a bowling ball (which he intended to get for himself).
  • Fun with Homophones:
    Jacques: May I ask you a bold question?
    Marge: Sure.
    Jacques: You've never bowled before?
  • A Gift for Themselves: Homer ends up gifting her a bowling ball, with his name on it and holes drilled for his fingers, fully aware that Marge doesn't even bowl. She takes up the sport out of spite, and winds up meeting an instructor whom she likes more than Homer.
  • Happy Birthday to You!: Sung to Marge by the waitstaff at the Singing Sirloin.
  • Heroic BSoD: Homer sinks into depression once he realizes Marge isn't spending time with the family (and may be seeing someone else).
  • Jerkass: Homer buys a bowling ball for himself on Marge’s birthday then gifts it to her, despite the fact it has his name engraved on it and had been outfitted for his fingers.
  • Noodle Incident: Homer's previous gifts to Marge were the Tackle Box and a Connie Chung calendar.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Jacques loses his French accent when he yells out an order for "FOUR ONION RINGS!!"
  • Playing Catch With The Old Man: Bart tries to cheer up a depressed Homer by inviting him to play catch. Bart beans Homer with the ball, and he wordlessly plops to the ground without flinching.
    Bart: Dad, you didn't even say "Ouch".
    Homer: Oh, sorry. Ouch.
  • Pun-Based Title: Originally, Jacques the French bowler was going to be a Swede named Bjorn and the episode was titled "Bjorn to be Wild".
  • Shout-Out:
  • Special Guest: Albert Brooks as Jacques (credited as A. Brooks)
  • Speed Sex: Alluded to. "I'm going to the backseat of my car with the woman I love! And I won't be back for TEN MINUTES!"
  • Sudden Anatomy: When Patty makes a comment on Homer's eating habits, the camera briefly cuts to Homer reacting obliviously, and his hands are drawn with fingernails and detail on his knuckles. In the next shot of Homer following more disparaging remarks, his hands are drawn with the usual lack of detail.
  • Sympathetic Adulterer: Dissolves somewhat once Homer realizes the magnitude of his insensitivity and is in turn devastated, but in the beginning Marge's side is easy to understand if not sympathize with.
  • Weird Moon: The scene where Jacques drops Marge off home, the moon seen in the background resembles a bowling ball.


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