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Recap / The Simpsons S 27 E 9 Barthood

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Bart’s coming of age story a la Boyhood 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.

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  • 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 Moleman slaughter. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
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  • Book-Ends: The episode begins and ends with Bart asking Homer questions.
  • 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 laziness and jealousy of her.
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  • Childhood Friend Romance: Maggie is seen holding hands with Baby Gerald (both teenagers at this point) and Lisa has started dating Nelson again.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Nelson is completely surprised once he learns that Bart is El Barto.
  • 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.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Bart is resentful towards Lisa for unintentionally belittling him by being smarter than him.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Lisa does overshadow Bart and steal the spotlight from him but it's often 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.
  • 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. While the aesop is solid, it comes off as more of a Broken Aesop because a) Homer frequently compared Lisa to Bart and always treated her better (though this isn't her fault), b) her saying that she knows what it's like to be second best because she went to Yale University and not the best college in the country really doesn't have much merit, especially since she still got into the second best school, and c) Lisa constantly showed him up for no reason, with some of them being on purpose. To compound things, there are quite a handful of episodes where Bart is succeeding at life, but Lisa will grow jealous/resentful and the episode will end with Bart giving up what he loves to make her happy. So while Bart's terrible lot in life is her fault, Lisa still ruined chances for him, and was insensitive towards all his problems. He's right to blame her for some of his problems, and he is right to hold a grudge because she never accepts fault for her behavior. This is further complicated by the fact that the final part of the episode shows that Bart was able to become a successful artist and bike shop owner, moving past his grudge against Lisa in order to succeed... Except he was able to succeed after he essentially cut her out of his life and avoided her. So he succeeded even with the grudge, and getting away from her not only helped him but would later go on to help repair their relationship.
    • 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 refuses to support Bart or treat him with love and respect even after a therapist confronted him to do so, in Bart's adulthood he is still put on a pedestal by him in spite of doing nothing to deserve or earn it.
  • 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.
  • Mandatory Line: Harry Shearer is absent except for a cameo as Kang during the opening titles.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: Unlike most of the show's Flash Forward episodes, jokes about futuristic technology, the environment, and other aspects of 20 Minutes into the Future are avoided in favour of the setting remaining grounded in 2015. They still make some jokes at the end, namely with the Bookend questions (marijuana is implied to be legal and pollution has gotten worse). Not to mention Lisa inventing an artifical pituitary gland.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Retcon: Potentially. This is the first episode that does not clash with any of the other episodes delving with the future of the Simpsons. While this could be because it's a tribute to Boyhood rather than any glimpse, it is still notable for standing out.
  • Signed Up for the Dental: Ralph joined the army so he could have a costume for Milhouse's graduation party.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • "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.
  • Twin Switch: At the party when he's age 15, Bart appears to be in a relationship with Terri. When they start making out in the closet, though, she turns out to be Sherri. Bart doesn't take it well when he finds out.
  • The Un-Favourite: A major plotline is 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 skateboarding trick, he comments that, for once, he won't be in Lisa's shadow. His trick is ruined when he gets distracted by (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?
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