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Recap / The Simpsons S2 E12 "The Way We Was"

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Original air date: 1/31/1991

Production code: 7F12

After the Simpson TV set breaks down, Marge and Homer decide to tell the kids the story of how they met in high school and eventually started dating.

This episode contains examples of:

  • The '70s: Complete with several background oddities from the period. The commentary notes of Homer's guidance counselor playing with a Newton's cradle, "In case you forgot it was the '70s."
  • '70s Hair: Homer, Barney, and other men have long sideburns and heavy bangs while the girls like Marge and her friend and sisters have long hair parted in the center.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Averted with Marge, who wasn't that interested with Homer due to his attitude.
  • Artistic License – History: After Marge has tutored Homer on French, the two are shown dancing to "The Hustle" by Van McCoy, a song that came out in April 1975, even though the scene takes place in 1974.
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  • Bitch Slap: After Homer tells Marge the truth, she slaps him and says that she never wants to see him again. After she leaves, Homer's still certain he's got a date for the prom.
  • Blatant Lies: Abe is pretty aware that Homer's drinking already at his age.
    Abe: Why don't you grab yourself a beer, boy?
    Homer: But Dad, I don't drink-
    Abe: Cut the crap! (in a mocking voice) "I just collect the cans, Daddy!" Now grab yourself a beer and get me one too!
  • Break the Cutie:
    • Homer is devastated when he thinks there's no chance he and Marge will ever get together.
    • Barney spends the entire episode being rejected.
  • Call-Forward:
    • Homer notices some hairs coming off after a quick brushing, but he doesn't think much of it.
    • Homer's adviser suggests he look for a job at the power plant. Homer laughs that off—thinking he'd just blow the place up.
    • Advertisement:
    • In "I Married Marge", Homer does land a job at the power plant. And, as viewed in "Homer Defined", it turns out he was hired under Project Bootstrap, which was a Ford Administration program asking companies to hire unskilled workers. This episode's time period is near the end of the Nixon Administration.
  • Cannot Talk to Women: Barney.
    Barney: Ey, will you go to prom with me?
    Random Girl: Good God no!
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': The first time in her school career Marge acts out (burning a bra on campus as part of a women's rights demonstration), she gets sent straight to detention. Homer also suffers from this as every time he tries to talk to Marge in detention he gets more time added to his sentence while she doesn't.
  • Comically Missing the Point: After getting slapped by Marge after he reveals the truth of why he asked her to help teach him French, and her saying that she hates him, Homer doesn't quite get that Marge might not want to go to prom with him anymore.
    Homer: (Reaches for the phone in silence) Hey Barney. Guess who's got a date to the prom!
  • Continuity Nod: A few episodes earlier in "Bart Gets Hit By a Car," Marge notes that Dr. Hibbert has been the family's physician "ever since the day I became a mother." A flashback in this episode shows this to be very literally the case, as Dr. Hibbert was the one who broke the news of her Surprise Pregnancy to her and Homer.
  • Couch Gag: Repeat of the Couch Gag from "Bart Gets an F", but without Homer saying "D'oh".
  • Date Rape Averted: Artie tries to force Marge to have sex with him, and rips her dress. She slaps him in the face, which stops him, and demands to be taken home. Later on she passes by Homer on the way home and picks him up. Homer then patches it up with the corsage he bought for her.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The Wiseguy voice debuts as Homer's limo driver.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Homer comes close to crossing over. There's only one thing in his life he's ever been certain of and that was he and Marge belong together and after seeing her with Artie Ziff at the prom, he ends up crying his eyes out because that one thing he was certain of was wrong and until Marge picks him up on the side of the road, he's depressed.
  • Dumb Is Good: The other candidate for Marge's heart is her debate team rival Artie Ziff, who's as intelligent as Homer is dim. Unfortunately, he knows it.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Parodied.
    Lisa: Everything I know tells me this story doesn't end with us sitting here and you telling it to us.
    Bart: Get off the edge of your seat. They got married, had kids, and bought a cheap TV, okay?
  • Foreshadowing: The flashback of Dr. Hibbert telling Homer and Marge about Marge's pregnancy wouldn't be explored in full until season three's "I Married Marge".
  • Hilarious in Flashback: Homer, as a student, scoffed at the idea of working at Springfield Nuclear Power Plant.
  • Honking Arriving Car: Played with. Teenage Homer is walking on the side of the road, after he ran out of money to pay for his limousine rental for the prom, and Marge arrives in her own car to offer Homer a ride, after Artie Ziff brought her back home. However, Homer initially mistakes Marge's friendly tooting of the horn on her arrival for some blowhard driver being overly aggressive.
    [Toot Toot!]
    Homer: Shut up!
    [Toot Toot!]
    Homer: I'm over as far as I can go!
    [Toot Toot!]
    Homer: Alright! Alright! I'll walk in the MUD!
  • How Dad Met Mom: This episode tells the story of how Homer and Marge met in high school.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Fearing Marge would break their date, Homer avoided her for weeks, including not going to school.
  • It's All About Me: When Ziff asks Marge to not talk about how he treated her tonight, he puts it as how his downfall would "devastate the town".
  • Jewish and Nerdy: Artie Ziff.
  • Love at First Sight: Homer experiences this upon meeting Marge, albeit Season 15 would reveal that they briefly met as children and didn't recognize each other later.
  • Love Epiphany: Marge has one after getting groped by Artie and coming home from the prom where she hears her family say that she went out "with the right one". After she finds Homer on the road while she's driving, she tells him that she should have gone to the prom with him.
  • Make-Out Point:
    • Artie and Marge go to one after the prom.
    • Homer also gets his hired limo driver to drive him there, but the man warns him "he's only paid to drive".
  • Makeup Is Evil: When Marge is getting ready for prom, Mrs. Bouvier comes in to pinch Marge's cheeks to make them rosier. When Marge suggests using the painless rouge instead, Mrs. Bouvier says "Ladies pinch. Whores use Rouge".
  • Missing Mom: During the flashbacks, we only see Abe and Homer at their home, with Mona (who hadn't yet been created) nowhere to be seen. At the time of this episode's creation, the writers hadn't yet decided what to do with the character of Homer's mother, and so decided to leave it to the viewer's determination as to whether she was just out working that night, whether she had passed away, or whether she had left Abe (the latter of which being the one they eventually went with, albeit not because of their relationship breaking down as such).
  • Mooning: Homer tries to get Marge interested in him by joining the debate team. His idea of a rebuttal involved showing off his butt.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Barney goes streaking at the prom, to the chagrin of the principal and amusement of the students.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The critics the family watch right before the TV goes out are clearly supposed to be Siskel & Ebert.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: How Abe recognises Homer is lovelorn, given he's not behaving the way he normally does at dinner (i.e., making crude jokes and stuffing his face)
    Abe: What's the matter with you boy?
    Homer: Nothing.
    Abe: You haven't said "Poo" all night and usually I have to wrestle the [fried chicken] bucket out of your greasy mitts!
  • Percussive Maintenance: Homer tries his "Doctor TV" approach on the family set. His patient doesn't make it.
  • The Power of Love: It's love at first sight for Homer, and he manages to win over Marge by showing the guy he is beneath being the unintelligent slacker.
  • The Prom Plot: Homer and Marge attend their senior prom, though not with each other. Although Marge initially agreed to go with him, his ploy of pretending to be failing French so she can tutor him but really to get to know her better infuriated her, not just for wasting her time on a lie, but moreso because she had a large county-wide debate the following day which he knew about and storms out of his house while telling him she hates him and then agreed to be Artie's date. Unfortunately, since she didn't technically say "no", Homer still showed up to take her, to her chagrin and her family's (save for her father, surprisingly) disgust.
  • Shotgun Wedding: Lisa initially asks to hear the story of how Homer proposed to Marge, cuing a flashback to the two of them finding out about her Surprise Pregnancy with Bart. They decide to tell the kids the story of how they met instead.
  • Sick and Wrong: After the television goes on the fritz and Bart claims that if they can look really close at the dot on it you can kind of make out something on the screen, a skeptical Marge declares their actions as sick.
    Bart: Hey everybody, if you look real close, you can kinda make them out!
    Homer: Hey yeah... yeah! I think I can!
    Marge: I think this is sick... They're staring at a dot!
    Homer: (despairing) She's right! She's right! (sobs) Oh I miss TV, dear God! Just give me one channel.
  • Sickeningly Sweet: After hearing Homer and Marge's heartfelt story, and seeing them kiss in the present, Lisa and Maggie look inraptured, while Bart starts gagging.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Artie Ziff; when he drops Marge home, he asks her not to tell anyone about his "busy hands" because he claims he's so important it'll damage the town to hear about it. Marge doesn't agree, but evidently decides that it wouldn't be worth the trouble of making an issue out of it — likely because actually doing so probably wouldn't have achieved anything other than mildly embarrassing Artie (and possibly getting him yelled at by Marge's father), given the time period.
  • Special Guest: Jon Lovitz as Artie Ziff.
  • Tacky Tuxedo: Homer wore a powder blue one to the prom.
  • Ur-Example: This is the first of many episodes where Homer and Marge tell the kids a story from the past that fleshes out the family's history.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Artie Ziff is an intelligent and popular smooth talker where he gets constant accolades from the school and the approval of the Bouvier family but is disrespectful and condescending to everyone around him as well as a sexual predator.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: This episode tells the story of how Homer and Marge first met.
  • Worth It: Homer considers landing a week's worth of detention a fair exchange for getting to introduce himself to Marge.
  • Wrong Guy First: Artie for Marge, which she only realised after the prom when he tried to grope her and ended up ripping her dress strap.