In this Valentine's Day Episode written by Tim Long, Bart reunites with Mary (Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel's daughter who moved to New York and writes for Saturday Night Live), but their relationship drifts apart and Bart must win back Mary or lose her forever.
"Love is a Many-Splintered Thing" contains examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Marge, of all people, comes off as this when she throws Bart out of the house just because he agrees with Homer that Love Hurts. And worse, Homer and Bart have nowhere to go.
- Bait-and-Switch: When Bart and Homer are expelled from home, two suitcases are thrown as well. The smallest has a Krusty the Klown's face and the other doesn't have any sign to suggest it to belong to a kid. The smallest belongs to Homer.
- Berserk Button: Don't disagree with Marge, otherwise you're left to die on the streets, even if you're her son.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Marge not only kicks Homer out, but Bart as well, all because of a frustrated response about women never saying what they mean (shortly after Mary broke up with him over the phone).
- Downer Ending: While Homer wins Marge back after going through leaps and bounds (once again), Mary dumps Bart and is now dating the son of a Brazilian producer.
- Hope Spot: The episode ends with her relationship status updating from 'married' to 'single.'
- I Have No Son!: Marge disowns Bart because he sided with his father over their argument about love.
- Jerkass Ball: Marge is at her worst here by not only kicking Homer out of the house but Bart as well. She had already resented Bart in Marge Be Not Proud and Bart the Mother, but she had reason to in those episodes. Here, she outright sends him outside (into a dangerous town and she knows it) just for petty reasons.
- The Unfair Sex: The episode tries to present Bart as being neglectful of Mary with Lisa repeatedly telling him that hell never find anyone better. The problem with this is that Bart never really treated Mary any different then she did him and unlike her he tried to fix it. Bart did play video games despite her disinterest yet he also went to her house to listen to music. However he is also presented as in the wrong when he finally gets bored (despite it being hinted that they were doing it for a relatively long time). It also doesnt help that Bart just found something else to do while listening yet Mary complained the whole time when they were doing something he likes. There was also never any compromise between the two if Bart didnt everything Mary wanted to do and cater to her needs 24/7 he is a bad boyfriend. The catalyst to them breaking was Bart not wanting to sit around as she flirted with the son of a producer.
- Homer and Marges storyline is arguably worse as besides taking Maggie to Moes he never really did anything wrong. Marge cased an accident by yelling at Homer over the GPS at Homer to listen to the GPS causing him to the get distracted an take a wrong turn and later getting angry at him for not going to her sisters event when she told him that he didn't have to. This is what caused Bart to call her out as his problem was that while he knew something needed to be done but not knowing what exactly what to do. All in all while the Aesop of the episode seems to want to be men should treat their wives better in actuality it comes across more like relationships are All Take and No Give based entirely in the womans favor and even if the man accepts this it doesnt necessarily mean that they will get a happy ending.
- It also doesnt help that the episode tries to present the same Broken Aesop as Milhouse Divide if Marys brutal breakup song and the fact that Bart and Homer were lumped in dads who give their children drugs is anything to go by.
- The Un-Favourite: Kicking him out just because of his bitterness towards Mary makes Bart this to Marge.