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Recap / The Simpsons S4 E4 "Lisa the Beauty Queen"

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Episode - 9F02
First Aired - 10/15/1992

Upset over a caricature artist's picture of her, Lisa sinks into a depression about her appearance. To cheer her up, Homer sells his ride on the Duff Blimp (which he won in a school raffle) to pay for Lisa's entry fee in an upcoming child pageant for little girls aged seven to nine, but when Lisa wins the title of Little Miss Springfield,note  she discovers that the title is a scam to get a child spokesperson for Laramie Cigarettes.


This episode contains examples of:

  • Animal Testing: Mentioned by Barney when Homer asks him where he got the money to pay for the blimp ticket — with labs less willing to do this, "a guy like me can really clean up" volunteering for experiments!
  • Artistic License – Physics: When Lisa is crowned Little Miss Springfield, the crown and sceptre handed to her are still giving off steam even though time has passed between Amber being struck by lightning and the crown passing to Lisa. If the crown was still hot enough to have steam coming off it, it should have burnt Lisa's scalp.
  • Art Shift: The Couch Gag has more exaggerated and cartoonish animation than normal. Makes sense since the family overshoots the film and has to scramble back toward the couch.
  • As Himself: Bob Hope. He hosts a local USO show and presents Lisa to the crowd. They aren't happy because they were expecting an adult pageant queen (or to put it more simply, "tits and ass"), and proceed to riot in a spoof of Apocalypse Now.
  • Advertisement:
  • Badass Teacher: The Blue-Haired Lawyer makes the mistake of making Skinner, a former Green Beret, angry.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Homer tells Bart that giving a woman constant compliments will get him benefits he can only talk about when Bart is older. A Thought Bubble then appears showing Homer's daydream about lounging in a hammock while Marge mows the lawn.
  • Beauty Contest: A full pageant example with a talent competition, Q&A, etc. No swimsuit competition, as they are little girls and that would just be creepy (though Bart does mention "taping your swimsuit to your butt" and "padding" as beauty contest tricks of the trade).
  • Big Brother Instinct: Upon seeing her baby sister smoking, Lisa refuses to continue being Laramie Cigarettes' puppet.
  • Bond One-Liner: "Copyright expired."
  • Celebrity Endorsement: Lisa, to her horror, finds herself being forced into this for Laramie Cigarettes. Earlier, when the ad for the pageant notes that Krusty the Clown will be hosting it, it cuts to black-and-white footage of Krusty blankly stating "I heartily endorse this event or product!"
  • Cheap Heat: Bob Hope makes sure to ask what the mayor's name is before hitting the stage so he can get laughs with a joke about how much Mayor Quimby stinks at golf. It works.
  • Deliberately Cute Child: Amber Dempsey.
  • Deranged Animation: The brief moment when Lisa looks in a spoon and thinks her face looks ugly, thanks to the fish eye lens effect.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Apparently Apu and Sanjay didn't think to either lock up the Kwik-E-Mart or have replacement staff before they went to the Little Miss Springfield Pageant, resulting in Jimbo, Dolph and Kearney robbing the place blind.
  • Disney Owns This Trope: The opening scene has Principal Skinner confronted by Disney lawyers over the carnival being advertised as "The Happiest Place on Earth" (a famous slogan for Disneyland). Being an ex-Green Beret, however, he dispatches them easily.
    Blue-Haired Lawyer: Principal Skinner, "The Happiest Place on Earth" is a registered Disneyland copyright.
    Principal Skinner: Oh now, gentlemen, it's just a small school carnival.
    Blue-Haired Lawyer: And it's heading for a great big lawsuit! You made a big mistake, Skinner.
    Principal Skinner: [Chuckles] Well, so did you. [Darkly] You got an ex-Green Beret mad. [Skinner kicks the crap out of the lawyer and his goons.] Copyright expired.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The Blue-Haired Lawyer brings along the threat of a lawsuit and a pair of really big goons to force Skinner to change the slogan of his school carnival (the slogan is a Disney copyright, but it's overkill no matter how you see it). The goons he had used on a few previous appearance of the gag to vandalize whatever the Lawyer says is copyright-protected.
  • Disqualification-Induced Victory: Lisa is crowned Little Miss Springfield after Amber is hit by lightning, making her unable to "fulfill her duties" as Little Miss Springfield. The pageant's sponsor (Laramie Cigarettes) doesn't like her speaking out against smoking so they find a loophole: on the entry form where it says "Do not write in this space" Homer wrote "O.K." Lisa is disqualified and the title returns to the original winner.
  • Expy: Menthol Moose for Joe Camel, the Real Life mascot for Camel Cigarettes. At the time this episode was made, the company was accused of using the mascot to market cigarettes to children subtly. Some analysts believe that Joe Camel was just as recognizable as Mickey Mouse to six-year-old kids.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Homer eating the entire tub of petroleum jelly that Lisa was using on her teeth for that frictionless smile. According to the writers and producers on the DVD Commentary,invoked this was the grossest thing Homer had yet eaten.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Homer for Flanders after the latter wins second prize at the carnival: a new shoe buffer. He even says he wants that shoe buffer when Marge points out that the Simpsons already own one.
  • Haggis Is Horrible: Groundskeeper Willie loudly offers haggis to everyone who passes him at the Springfield Elementary carnival, but his Brutal Honesty about the ingredients can't have convinced them to want it.
  • Hidden Depths: Bart is surprisingly good at walking in high heels.
  • Hindenburg Incendiary Principle: Barney is given a chance at the controls of the Duff Blimp, and ends up flying it into a radio tower, where it explodes into flame. Kent Brockman even exclaims "Oh, the Humanity!"
  • Hollywood Nerd: A bunch of these chase a football team out after Lisa rats on the players for extortion.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: As Lisa is doing a Sexy Walk past some boys in the school cafeteria, she coyly says:
    Lisa: Hi fellas.
    Chuck: Love that chewing gum walk.
    Ralph Wiggum: Verrry Wrigley!
  • It's All My Fault: Homer blames himself for the Loophole Abuse that disqualified Lisa.
  • Just Plane Wrong: The Duff blimp looks like a normal modern blimp on the outside, but on the inside it has a rigid metal framework and hydrogen gas cells, just like a zeppelin, and thus is revealed when Barney ends up flying the "blimp" into a radio tower and it explodes ala The Hindenburg.note 
  • Karma Houdini: Principal Skinner handles a legal trouble by beating up the other side's legal team and suffers no comeuppance for it.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: Then again, considering that the Blue-Haired Lawyer brought along his goons, it's pretty heavily implied that he was going to force Skinner to change the slogan with a threat of brutality and hefty collateral damage if he had to (it's an occasional gag that the Lawyer asks someone to stop doing something trademarked and the goons destroy whatever items were being used), so we get to see one of the few instances in the show when someone made the Lawyer regret doing his Amoral Attorney schtick and the one time when someone made him Talk to the Fist.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: After teasing Lisa a little by offering her Little Miss Springfield sceptre then pulling it back, Krusty gets blasted by lightning attracted to the metal sceptre. Krusty freely admits he was asking for trouble.
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • Lisa is disqualified from being Little Miss Springfield because Homer wrote "Okay" in a box marked "Do not write in this space" on Lisa's application form.
    • Also, Laramie Cigarettes sponsoring the pageant to circumvent the laws against advertising cigarettes on TV. This is a real life reference to cigarette advertising in American racing series including the NASCAR Cup Series being advertised as the Winston Cup.
    • Amber has eyelash implants. When Lisa asks another contestant if they are illegal, she says, "Not in Paraguay."
  • Mood-Swinger: Kent Brockman, when the Duff blimp crashes:
    Kent: OH, THE HUMANITY!!! ... Anyway, to turn on the store's "severe tire damage" spikes, here's Little Miss Springfield.
  • Noodle Incident: Possibly referring to Vanessa Williams resigning over nude photos of her and another woman in suggestive poses being published in Penthouse.
    Krusty: And now it's time to name our runner-up, who if the winner doesn't fulfill her duties, blah blah wasa wasa wasa ... And don't say it'll never happen, because we all remember that thing with what's-her-name, [Making camera gestures] click, click, you know. [Wobbles his hand] — Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.
  • Off-Model: Krusty's nose turns white when he sings the Spelling Song mentioned below.
  • Pun: The headline "Lisa kicks butt!", which shows Lisa kicking down the Laramie cigarette pack on the float.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Jimbo, Dolph and Kearney take advantage of Apu and Sanjay's absence at the pageant to rob the Squishee machine from the Kwik-E-Mart.
  • Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony: The Simpsons are watching Little Miss Springfield inaugurate the new safety spikes in front of a tire store. There she is struck by lightning, leaving runner-up Lisa as the new Little Miss Springfield.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: How did Amber get eyelash implants if they're illegal? "Not in Paraguay", says one of the other contestants.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!:
    • Kent leaves the newscast after the wrong footage keeps being played.
    • Otto quickly hightails it to Mexico after his meddling with ride controls (at Bart's urging) causes a ride car to go exploding into the roof of Springfield Elementary.
  • Shout-Out:
    • When Barney crashes the Duff Blimp, Kent Brockman shouts, "Oh, the Humanity!" The same line was said when by a reporter in 1937 when the Hindenburg crashed.
    • The scene of Lisa being sworn in as the new Little Miss Springfield parodies Lyndon Johnson being sworn in after John F. Kennedy's assassination.
    • Two to Star Wars: One of the hairdos Lisa gets is Leia's "cinnamon buns", and Darth Vader is one of the celebrity caricatures at the caricaturist's booth at the carnival.
    • Bart demonstrating how to walk in heels, soon he starts to strike a pose where he could coquettishly shows off his backside and legs deliberately alluding to the famous pin up photo of Betty Grable.
  • Smoking Is Not Cool: Little Miss Springfield is sponsored by Laramie's, a cigarette multinational that bald-facedly admits it only sponsors events for the intent of advertising its product on TVnote  aside from promoting smoking among children. When Lisa realizes she is being exploited by the company she immediately rebels against them and uses her influence to provide more socially-admirable messages, such as making a stance that government money could be used for better education instead of spending it in sportsnote  (which caused a football team to be chased out by angry nerds).
  • Special Guest and Creator Cameo: Lona Williams (a staff member on the show who actually worked the beauty pageant circuit when she was a child) as Amber Dempsey.
  • Spelling Song: Krusty belts one out at the end of the pageant, though the scene changes after its opening lines:
    L, the losers in her wake
    I, the income she will make
    T is for her tooth-filled mouth
  • Straw Hypocrite: Amber was Pork Princess and Little Miss Kosher in the same week (of course, the real hypocrite would likely be the one who represents her).
  • Take That!: Laramie's mascot Menthol Moose (who is crushed when Lisa kicks over the large cigarette box prop) parodies the now-discontinued Camel cigarette mascot Joe Camel, who became controversial at the time because of his recognition level among kids.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Homer gives up his ticket for the Duff zep so Lisa could participate in the pageant. This was pretty much the first time in the series' history in which Homer doesn't have his crabby demeanor from the first three seasons (a trait that would disappear during this season).
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Bart Simpson demonstrates this by walking in heels, and surprisingly, he does it much better than Lisa.
  • Wrong Footage Gag: Kent Brockman gets this done to him twice in the finale: First, when throwing to footage of Lisa losing her Little Miss Springfield crown, and again for his interview with Pope John Paul II. Both times, it cuts to footage of a goat being milked by a bottle.
    Kent: That's it. I cannot work under these conditions. If anybody wants me, I'll be downstairs at McDougal's. Call the weekend guy. I don't care.

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