Episode - 9F11
First Aired - 1/21/1993
Selma's Choice is the 13th episode of the fourth season of The Simpsons.
Selma once again must find a man so she can raise a family and not die alone like her recently-deceased aunt Gladys, but when Homer falls ill due to a rotten hoagie and Selma volunteers to take Bart and Lisa to Duff Gardens, she soon realizes that she has little to no motherly skills or instinct.
It marks the first appearance of Jub-Jub the iguana.
This episode contains examples of:
- Amusement Park of Doom: Duff Gardens is a subversion. The worst the park has is roaming gangs (Dolph, Jimbo, and Kearney, who are shown getting arrested as part of a commercial, but later steal three bumper cars and ride them off into the sunset) and unprofessional/incompetent workers (Surly, the Barrel Roll coaster operators, the "Complaints" line lady who tells a customer to "get bent," and the "doctor" who gave Lisa a handful of pills). The real danger comes from Bart wreaking havoc (by pulling down the George Washington robot's pants and getting stuck on a roller coaster) and Lisa getting high on the tainted water in the "Little Land of Duff" ride.
- Artistic License Law: Lionel Hutz' trick of forging wills to make himself a beneficiary would never hold up in court; it is illegal to benefit from a will for which you're executor. Of course, Hutz being a terrible lawyer is not exactly without precedent.
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign: The man on the ham radio is actually speaking foreign-sounding gibberish.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Homer loses interest during Aunt Gladys's video will by fast-forwarding to the end of Great Aunt Gladys' reading of Robert Frost's poetry, much to Marge's annoyance (however, Jackie, Patty, Selma, Bart, and Lisa want Homer to skip over it).
- Beer Goggles: When Bart tries on the beer goggles and looks at Selma, she's gotten prettier and sexier and sweeter.
- Black Comedy:
- Bart tricking Lisa into thinking Great Aunt Gladys is alive.
- One of the Moleman kids falling out the window (in the fantasy of what Selma's life will be like as Hans Moleman's wife), followed by a long, chilling silence before it goes back to reality.
- Bowdlerisation: In-universe, Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side" from Transformer (filled with many references to prostitution, racism, transsexuality, and drug abuse) is performed by Hooray for Everything at Duff Gardens. In keeping with the group's "clean-shaven sounds", the lyric "And the colored girls go" is changed to "And all the races sing."
- One of the movies Marge rents for a sick Homer is The Erotic Adventures of Hercules, starring Troy McClure as Hercules and Norman Fellnote as Zeus. The Erotic Adventures of Hercules was first mentioned in the episode "Mr. Plow", during Carnival of the Stars.
- Selma continues her search to find a man and have a baby out of fear of dying alone, as seen in "Principal Charming" and "Black Widower".
- Lance Murdock makes his first appearance since "Bart the Daredevil".
- Chekhov's Gag: Jub-Jub is introduced early as a seemingly random joke to indicate Gladys' unusual choice of pet. He's adopted by Selma at the end, after she realizes she's just not cut out for children.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: Aunt Gladys. Besides being a loner, she keeps irregularly-shaped potato chips, referring to them as her "children."
- Color Failure: Lisa turns pale under the effects of the water she drinks at the Little Land of Duff.
- Comically Missing the Point: Selma questions Homer's success at raising his children by asking "How do you do it?". Homer responds by explaining how to turn a bedsheet into a toga.
- Homer thinking artificial insemination is having sex with a robot. When Marge whispers what it really is, Homer says, "I knew that."
- Deranged Animation: Lisa's hallucination of Selma◊ after drinking the Duff Gardens water.
- Determinator: Spoofed. Even with his severe food poisoning, Homer is determined to get to Duff Gardens. He doesn't make it past the driver's seat of his car.
- Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: When Selma says that Gladys's legend will live on, Homer thinks to himself, "Yeah, the legend of the dog-faced woman." He then repeats the phrase aloud in amusement, leading to a scolding from Marge.
- Edutainment: Selma assumes the Beer Hall of Presidents is this (it's actually a thinly-disguised ad for Duff Beer) and insists the kids have to sit through the whole thing: "Settle down. Anything this bad has to be educational!"
- Everyone Has Standards:
- Even Groundskeeper Willie, a brash, slovenly school janitor who has seen his share of disgusting moments in school (mostly bathroom accidents and Wendell the pale kid puking), thinks Selma's dating video of her doing the cherry stem knot trick on a lit cigarette is revolting ("Back to the loch with you, Nessie!")
- Homer, for all his hatred for Marge's sisters, is actually civil to them in this episode (barring the "Legend of the Dogfaced Woman" crack and fast-forwarding the video will). He doesn't snark back when Patty tells Selma to "close your eyes and think of MacGyver" when Homer hugs them and Homer feels bad for Selma not being able to handle the kids during the trip to Duff Gardens, even taking her hand without her showing any negative reaction.
- The Food Poisoning Incident: Homer falls ill from eating a 10-foot-long party sub salvaged from a power plant luncheon picnic that's been eaten by him even when it decayed far beyond the point of edibility over the span of nearly a month, leaving him in absolutely no condition to even walk a short distance down the street, let alone drive. This forces Marge to nurse him back to health and ask Selma to take Bart and Lisa to Duff Gardens.
- Forging the Will: Lionel Hutz edits Gladys' video will to make her say she's leaving him $50,000. Everyone sees through the ruse because Hutz didn't disguise his voice. It's not the first time he tries to pull that sort of scam.Lionel Hutz: You'd be surprised how often that works, you really would!
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: If you pause right when Selma voids Hans Moleman's driver's license, it reveals that he was born on August 2, 1961. Bear in mind this episode aired in January of '93. This gets a mention a few episodes later in "Duffless", where at an AA meeting, he states that he's only 31 years old, but excessive drinking has aged him terribly.
- The "Fun" in "Funeral": The funeral home actually has a sign that reads, "The Lucky Stiff Funeral Home We Put the 'Fun' in Funeral". Bart also scares Lisa into thinking that Aunt Gladys' corpse is still talking.
- Generation Xerox: The babies that all look and belch like Barney Gumble, and the Hans Moleman kids (who are all blind and ugly) in Selma's Imagine Spot of life as Mrs. Hans Moleman.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: The psychic trying to con Selma into buying a fake love potion fails as a consequence of ingesting her own truth serum.
- Hostile Animatronics: Animatronic George Washington becomes one briefly after Bart shorts him out by pantsing him.
- I Ate WHAT?!: The rotten hoagie that Homer took home from a nuclear plant picnic, though it's subverted in that Homer knew what he was eating, but he kept it for so long, it began to turn purple and grow fungus on it (and he still ate it despite that and his obvious illness). This was based on an actual sandwich that one of the writers ate that did go bad overtime, though it never turned purple in real life.
- Imagine Spot: Selma has one of her being married to Hans Moleman, with several visually-impaired and ugly children. She immediately tosses Moleman out of her car.
- I'm Going to Disney World:Announcer: Hey, Lance Murdock, you just jumped sixteen blazing school buses. What are you going to do now?
Lance: (in pain) I'm going to Duff Gardens!
- Iwo Jima Pose: Homer eats a potato chip shaped like this.
- Jerkass: Surly of the Seven Duffs. He even says so himself when he refuses to get Bart off the rollercoaster.Surly: Hey, Surly only looks out for one guy: Surly.
Selma: Sorry, Surly.
Surly: Shut up.
- Lady Looks Like a Dude: During funeral, the funeral home director repeatedly refers to Aunt Gladys as a man until someone finally corrects him."That's a woman?! Well, I guess most of what I said can be salvaged."
- Lampshaded the Obscure Reference: While the Simpsons and Bouviers are eating at a diner on the way to the funeral, Marge reminisces the time she and her sisters dove into the water and made a skydiver formation as their Aunt Gladys watched on from a pier. "Oh, wait, that was Prince of Tides."
- Lie Back and Think of England: Patty and Selma cope with Homer hugging them by thinking of MacGyver.
- Lonely Funeral: When the family arrives for Aunt Gladys' funeral, there are many people attending, but when the pastor says that Gladys "wasn't a rich woman," nearly everyone except Patty, Selma, Marge's mother and the Simpson family all get up and leave.
- Love Potion: Selma tries buying one from a psychic, but said psychic accidentally ingests a Truth Serum, which causes her to reveal that the love potion Selma was about to buy is "mostly just corn syrup and rubbing alcohol" and that if Selma were to actually take it, "[Selma will] be lucky if it doesn't make [her] hair fall out."
- Mushroom Samba: Lisa's personal Nightmare Sequence after drinking the water in "The Little Land of Duff" ride.
- My Biological Clock Is Ticking: Selma decides that she'd better get on top of finding herself a husband and having children, before it's too late.
- Never My Fault: Homer blames the rotten sandwich for him being sick. He takes it back immediately, though, and Marge has to smack it out of his hand.
- Nightmare Face: Selma's head when Lisa has a bad trip from drinking the water.
- Noodle Incident:
- When Bart pulls down the George Washington robot's pants, his eyes turn red and it looks as if he's going to attack Bart or run amok, but it goes to the next scene before anything happens. Later when Bart is rescued from the Barrel Rollercoaster, the George Washington robot is headless and jabbering. What happened in the interim?
- Lionel Hutz had dubbed his voice over a video will before, and he even got away with it.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Patty and Selma's reaction when Homer, who usually despises them, actually sympathizes with them in light of their Aunt Gladys's death and Selma not being able to care for the kids.
- Oh, Crap!: The moment Selma says she wants a baby, Maggie wakes up and struggles to get out of the car.
- Paper Destruction of Anger: The family stops at a diner on their way to Aunt Gladys' funeral. Homer keeps failing to solve a maze on a placemat, so he keeps crumpling them in anger and tossing them on the floor.
- Pet the Dog: Homer gives Selma a hug after she expresses regret over her failures in this episode.
- Pun-Based Title: The episode title is a pun on Sophie's Choice.
- Reality Ensues: Bart sneaks onto a roller coaster he's too short for. He soon realizes that the safety bar can't properly secure someone under the minimum height limit.
- Riddle for the Ages: What exactly was that liquid that Bart dared Lisa into drinking?
- Duff Gardens is a double-pronged spoof. In real life, the Busch Gardens theme parks (which contain a combination of wildlife exhibits and thrill rides) were still owned by a beer company when this episode was made and ran with the idea, resulting in a park where beer is the main theme. The other spoof target is obviously the Disney Theme Parks, such as It's a Small World (Little Land of Duff), The Hall of Presidents (Beer Hall of Presidents) and the Main Street/Disneyland Electrical Parade (Duff Gardens Parade). Even the Seven Duffs are a shout out to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
- After being rescued from swimming naked in the Fermentarium, a strung-out Lisa declares herself "The Lizard Queen!"
- The potato chips that resemble celebrities include Otto von Bismarck (a conservative German statesman who dominated European affairs from the 1860s to his dismissal in 1890), Maurice Chevalier (a French singer and actor), and Jay Leno (an American comedian and talk show host). The one Homer eats is the famous flag-raising statue and picture from the Battle of Iwo Jima.
- The ending where Selma sings Aretha Franklin's "You Make Me Feel (Like a Natural Woman)" to Jub-Jub is based on the Murphy Brown episode where Murphy Brown sings this to her baby. The DVD commentary says it was an obscure reference, as Murphy Brown isn't remembered much today. In fact, except for Mike Reiss, everyone on the commentary actually forgot the reference.
- Slasher Smile: After Bart pulls down the robot George Washington's pants, the (now malfunctioning) robot gives Bart one as its eyes start glowing red.
- Smoking Is Not Cool: Selma chewing up one of her cigarettes and doing the cherry-stem-knot-trick to impress men. Even Groundskeeper Willie thought it was gross.
- Souvenir Land: To avoid Product Placement or copyright issues the Simpsons go to a theme park that doesn't exist in our universe, but seems to be very famous in theirs.
- Special Guest: Phil Hartman as Lionel Hutz and Troy McClure
- Take That!: The "Hooray For Everything" show at Duff Gardens, including the bowdlerization of Take A Walk On The Wild Side is said to be based off of the Christian right wing Moral Re-Armament group originated musical Up With People.
- This Is Gonna Suck: Bart sneaks onto a roller-coaster that he's too short to go on. But when the safety bar doesn't secure him because he's too short, all Bart can get out before the ride starts is "Whoa, that isn't good."
- Time Marches On: The Duff Gardens commercial shows a rollercoaster called "The Whiplash" that won't be completed until 1994...which is now over 20 years ago.
- Too Dumb to Live: Even after getting sick from eating the rotten sandwich, Homer still wants to eat what's left of it.
- Totally Radical: The rapping Abraham Lincoln robot at the Beer Hall of Presidents is a spoof of this.
- Unsettling Gender Reveal: The minister is shocked when one of the ushers tells him that the man is eulogizing is, in fact, a woman. He assures that "at least most of what [he] said can be salvaged," but Patty tells him to sit down and warns him not to put the eulogy on the bill.
- The Un-Smile: Due to Uncanny Valley, the animatronic people in the "Little Land of Duff" ride. Bart whimpers that he wants to get off the ride, but Selma, Bart, and Lisa have to suffer through five more continents of those kid robots (at least until Lisa freaks out from drinking the toxic water and escapes with one of the robots in hand).
- Visual Pun: After the funeral, the group leaves with a grandfather clock. It goes off just before Selma announces she wants a baby—meaning her biological clock is literally ticking.