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Recap / The Simpsons S 27 E 9 Barthood

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Emulating the movie Boyhood, Bart’s coming of age story chronicles his life from six-years-old to his time as an accomplished young man. Along the way, his tense relationship with Homer and Lisa shape Bart more than he realizes.


  • Actually Pretty Funny:
    • Marge chastises a very young Bart for making Homer hurt himself when he's in a neck-brace, then discreetly laughs about it to herself.
    • When Moleman crashes his car due to Bart and Millhouse shooting out streetlights, Chief Wiggum calls it a Mole-manslaughter. Moleman mumbles that he liked that remark.
  • Always Second Best: A recurring theme on the episode is that Bart is always being overshadowed by Lisa's accomplishments.
  • Art Shift: The Couch Gag reuses the one involving rotoscoping the characters in a realistic art style. Appropriate, given that was based on a couple of other Richard Linklater films like Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly.
  • Author Avatar: This episode, more clearly, than others, portrays Bart as one for Matt Groening himself. While Bart ends up owning his own bike shop, one of his hobbies is artwork focusing on experiences while also caricatures the people in his home town, much like how Groening initially derived Simpsons.
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  • Big Brother Worship: Implied, while growing up Lisa is seen dressing in the same clothing scheme as Bart. In the younger years, an infant Lisa looks like she was actually trying to impress both Bart and Frink. During their fight, Lisa actually tells Bart that he's a talented artist who overlooked his own skills out of envy.
  • Book-Ends: The episode begins and ends with Bart asking Homer questions while laying on the lawn.
  • Both Sides Have a Point:
    • Bart tells Lisa how he's tired of always being second best when compared to her and everything she does since she is smarter than him and how she always rubbed it in his face. She even bragged about one of her accomplishments on his 12th birthday, of all days, and he's annoyed at how his parents pay more attention to her because of it.
    • However Lisa points out that she actually does know what it's like to be second best due to going to Yale University (the second best college), and she tells him she's tired of him blaming her for every setback he had in life. She also knows what it's like to be second best to Bart due to him being more popular than her in school, having more friends, and sometimes not fitting into the family, due to being smart and liking brainy things. She also points out that just because he isn't that smart, it doesn't mean that he doesn't have talents and said how he's is an amazing artist and he's wasting his talents away due to his jealousy of her.
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  • Bully Turned Buddy: As with most Flash Forward episodes, Bart and Nelson stay on good terms as they grow up. In this particular episode, Bart learns that Nelson and Lisa started dating and he seems happy for them (they even come across as a Power Trio before the final scene).
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Probably one of the more realistic and grounded episodes of the show in a long time, due to the dedication to emulate the tone and style of Boyhood.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Maggie is seen holding hands with Baby Gerald (both pre-teens at this point) and Lisa alternates between dating Milhouse and Nelson.
  • Continuity Nod: A long time ago it was suggested either Sherri or Terri have a crush on Bart. This episode shows that at age 15 Bart has a thing with Terri, but at his party got confused and made out with Sherri.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: As usual, Lisa is the responsible to Bart's foolish but it's actually deconstructed during the episode. As Bart grows to resent Lisa for overshadowing him, causing Bart to become a prankster in order to gain attention from his parents.
  • Freudian Excuse: Homer's poor relationship with Bart stems from how Bart reminds Homer way too much of himself. And given how past and future episodes would examine the male Simpsons' lackluster parenting, it's more impactful than initially expected.
  • Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: At Milhouse's party, Bart finally snaps and berates Lisa for overshadowing him at every turn and blames her for his life going downhill. Lisa throws the speech back at him by saying that it was Bart's own fault for his life turning out the way it did, as he's a great artist but never could see it for himself out of hatred for Lisa. Lisa may have overshadowed him and belittled him without realising, Bart is still the one who chose to dwell on these feeling and not acknowledge his own abilities.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Bart is resentful towards Lisa for unintentionally belittling him by being smarter than him.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Lisa does overshadow Bart and often steals the spotlight from him but it's shown to be unintentional. Homer also does this at Bart's party. When Homer does feel happy about bonding with Bart, he makes an insensitive comment that makes Bart run away.
  • Internal Reveal: Played for laughs, Nelson is completely surprised once he learns that Bart is the famed graffiti artist El Barto.
  • Is the Answer to This Question "Yes"?:
    Bart: Are you guys dating?
    Nelson: Is there any other reason I'd be going to a Bolivian film festival?
  • Jerkass Ball: Homer's relationship with his son is somehow made even worse in this episode. Homer bluntly 'admits' that he doesn't want anything to do with Bart to a therapist, and can't say one nice thing to his son that isn't backhanded.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • As pointed out above in Both Sides Have a Point, neither Bart and Lisa are wholly in the right, yet Bart is the only one shown to be in the wrong. The story is primarily from his point of view and all he sees is Lisa upstaging him at every turn, and she shows little to no remorse for that fact. They have a big fight at Milhouse's graduation party where she gives him a Backhanded Compliment, praising him for his artistic talent but saying "the thing all artists have in common is a miserable life, and if I'm responsible for that you're welcome!" The No Ending style of the episode leaves that as a pseudo-climax, with a resolution showing Bart has made peace with Lisa and Homer in adulthood but with no indication of them having to earn it.
    • Homer as well. In addition the the fact that he—and to a lesser extent, Marge—continuously pit Bart and Lisa against each other (which is one of the more subtle but particularly odious forms of bad parenting/child abuse) and laments trying to spend time with Bart and support his interests even after a therapist and later Marge confronted him to do so. In Bart's adulthood they are shown chilling on the front lawn after an episode of their relationship going nowhere.
  • Kick the Dog: Professor Frink does this to Bart after Lisa shows off her intelligence to them. Stating that Bart will not need to worry about learning how to read since people will just point to the picture of the burger they want.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Subverted. To convey the passage of time each Time Skip has the characters in a different set of clothes, in conjunction with changing hairstyles. In fact, the timeline skips over the regular era entirely and is the only episode where none of the characters are seen in their standard outfits.
  • Mandatory Line: Harry Shearer is absent except for a cameo as Kang during the opening titles.
  • Never My Fault: As it's mentioned above, one of the main reasons why it's hard to feel sympathetic for Lisa is because every time she showed Bart up, she never showed any signs that she was sorry for what she was doing, nor did she ever apologize to Bart for it other than "if [you being a great artist because you have a miserable life] is my fault, you're welcome". Because of her behavior, it causes him to envy her even more.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: Unlike most of the show's Flash Forward episodes, broad gags about futuristic technology, the environment, and other aspects of 20 Minutes into the Future are avoided in favour of the setting remaining grounded in a relative 2015 modern day. They still make some jokes at a few things (Apple apparently started making unimpressive cars, clouds became brown due to pollution, Lisa invented an artificial pituitary gland) but compared to the RoboCop and Mad Max elements in similar episodes it is very mundane.
  • No Ending: There is not much of a resolution to the ongoing story, it's more of a Slice of Life with an underlying theme of Bart feeling overshadowed by Lisa at everything he tries to do with An Aesop underlying the story about learning how to see your own value and not compare yourself to others.
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up: The ultimate subversion, the episode takes place over the course of about 20 years and so we see a progression of the characters through multiple stages of their life. It notably skips his ten year old self, as we get plenty of that in the series proper. Bart specifically goes from about four into his early twenties.
  • Not So Different: More subtle, but episode summaries describe how Homer is an "overtly uncaring version" of Bart. When he's stoned, Homer actually admits this to Bart when Bart asks him why they usually never see eye to eye.
  • Opposites Attract: In their adulthood, Lisa starts dating Nelson, who is the complete opposite of Lisa.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: Bart has a piece of artwork describing Lisa as one of his favorite sisters. Aside from Lisa, he only has one other sister.
  • Parental Favoritism: Lisa is the family favorite and this favoritism is what causes Bart to hate her.
  • Parental Neglect: Bart's behavior is in the most part due to Homer refusing to spend any time with or say one nice word to his son. His disinterest in his son is to such a degree that when the therapist tells him that Bart wants his father's attention, Homer bluntly refuses to do so until the therapist grabs Homers face and tells him to spend time with his son, which he still doesn't do.
  • Parental Substitute: Though a few episodes gave some indications, this episode makes it really clear that Grandpa Abe is Bart's real father figure. He's the one that teaches Bart to drive, remembers his birthday and bails him out when he's in trouble. Even after his death, Bart is inspired and encouraged by Abe.
  • Parents as People: The episode explores Homer and Barts relationship from a more nuanced view. Bart acting out is based in trying to get some sort of attention since both parents focus on Lisa for her prodigy status. A therapist grabs Homer to yell in his face that he needs to spend more time with Bart, and while Homer does try to take him on a weekend outing he does whatever he can to not encourage him in the things he is interested in like art and outdoor activities. And thus they get into a cycle of Homer doing the bare minimum, Bart acting out for attention and Homer getting angry with him. When he is 15 Bart confronts Homer over this and he admits that his disinterest is because he felt that becoming a parent destroyed his innocence and, right or wrong, seeing himself in Bart only reminds him of a time when he didn't have so much responsibility. They don't ever really work this out, but learn to appreciate each other in their own way.
  • Police Are Useless: One that benefits Bart humorously. During a teenage party, he's surprised to see someone smoking his bong in his room, which he left in the Treehouse. He discovers it's Homer using it and when Bart voices the worries about the police, we see Wiggum is smoking weed with Homer. Bart being surprised is probably the funniest part considering he'd know better about the incompetence of the Springfield police.
  • Prisons Are Gymnasiums: After time in juvie, Milhouse comes back as a muscular young man - but he's still a nerd.
  • Real Men Love Jesus: Milhouse got sent to juvie and came back heavily muscular. While a girl is showing some interest in him for his new appearance and prison cred, he proceeds to show her a giant cross tattoo on his chest as he also got religion, which turned the girl off.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: At Milhouse's party, Bart finally snaps from envy and proceeds to yell at Lisa for constantly belittling and overshadowing him. Lisa turns the speech on Bart by telling him that he overlooked his own skills by hating her.
  • Retcon: Subverted. Most of the Flash Forward episodes of the show feature some element that makes them outright irreconcilable with each other. In part due to the more understated depiction of this future (no robots, aliens or destroyed ecosystem), it's so low-key that it could conceivably fit in anywhere. While this could be because it's a tribute to Boyhood rather than trying to follow continuity, it is still notable in this context.
  • Sequel Episode: Among the Flash Forward episodes, this has the most in common with "Future Drama" for focusing more on high school drama and contains a couple direct Continuity Nods like Lisa graduating with Bart and Milhouse becoming a nerdy bodybuilder.
  • Signed Up for the Dental: Ralph joined the army so he could have a costume for Milhouse's graduation party.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: It was hinted at in "Days of Future Future" but this episode expressly shows Maggie making out with her rival, the monobrowed baby Gerard.
  • Straw Loser: For once averted with Bart, who in his adult years develops a career running his own bike shop as well becoming an artist. Earlier he was shown doing caricature work on the pier, implying he was under some hard times, but Lisa points out that he was doing something he loved and blinded by his jealousy of her to understand that.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Or rather, Took a Level in Maturity. Bart surprisingly becomes less of a troublemaker as he grows older, to the point he gets worried about the police when he finds his father smoking his bong (as in Bart's) in his room... only to see Chief Wiggum smoking it too.
  • Twin Switch: When he's age 15 Bart appears to have a thing going with Terri. At his party they start making out in the closet and realizes he was actually making out with Sherri this time. He doesn't take it well, and bails.
    Sherri: (pulling Bart closer) "The further you go, the more different we become."
  • The Un-Favourite: It's always been an undercurrent of the family's relationships, but this episode makes it into a major plotline with Bart's continued feelings of inadequacy compared to Lisa, and how people routinely lather her with praise while not giving him much attention.
  • Visual Pun: As Bart is about to complete his bmx trick, he comments that, for once, he won't be in Lisa's shadow. His trick is ruined when he gets distracted by, and lands on, (what else?) Lisa's shadow.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Bart wants attention from Homer and to spend time with him. But, Homer is disinterested and more focused on Lisa.
  • Whole Plot Reference: To Boyhood. A lampshade is hung on The Stinger.
    Bart: Hey, did you like the movie Boyhood?
    Homer: Oh, is that what this was?
  • Wild Teen Party: Bart decides to throw one when Marge took Lisa to pre-med summer camp and Homer runs off to Moes. To his surprise, Homer snuck back inside and was smoking a bong with Chief Wiggum upstairs.
  • Younger Than They Look: Just a few years out of high school Nelson is shown to be geriatric, and is said to be the result of selling his pituitary gland. A few years later he looking much healthier because Lisa apparently created an artificial pituitary gland.

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