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Recap / The Simpsons S5 E7 "Bart's Inner Child"

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After Homer buys a trampoline for the backyard (and nearly every kid in town ends up injured from it), Marge realizes that she's a bossy nag who doesn't know how to have any fun, so she listens to a supposed self-help guru named Brad Goodman, who begins using Bart as a role model on how people should act.

Tropes of this episode:

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  • Aborted Declaration of Love:
    Smithers: Sir, in the spirit of the festival and everything I — I'd just like to say that ... I love you.
    Mr. Burns: Hmm?
    Smithers: ...Uh, in those colors!
  • Aesop Amnesia: Lampshaded and highly played with. At the end of the episode, Homer goes on about how it is Bart's fault in that he should have been a better role model, while Marge exclaims that self-improvement is "meant only for those in big cities" and decides to go back to her killjoy demeanor believing it's the right thing to do ("I knew if only I had nagged more"), when Lisa pushes through their nonsense that self-improvement is a lot of hard work and long investment of self-discovery. Homer emphasizes in Lisa's insight in that's what he means in that everyone is fine the way they are, and is further reinforced when he corrects himself after Lisa comes to tell him to settle down when watching McGarnagle.
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  • Artifact of Doom: The trampoline. Its sinister nature is implied with how eager Krusty is in getting rid of it (and how he pulls a gun out when Homer tries to give it back) and shown in full force when it injures every person who uses it.
  • As Himself: James Brown.
  • As You Know:
    Homer: Well, here we are at the Brad Goodman lecture.
    Lisa: We know, Dad.
    Homer: I just thought I'd remind everybody. After all, we did agree to attend this self-help seminar.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Homer tries to do this by helping Bart escape inside a parade float. The disguise is quickly blown, though they make it anyway, as the townspeople got bored and decided to go to the old mill to get cider.
  • Blatant Lies: After Marge admits that she never realized people saw her as a nag, Lisa timidly asks if Marge is mad — Marge claims that she's not and that she's perfectly fine, but you can tell that she's obviously very angry and offended to learn that people see her that way.
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  • The Bore: Homer calls out Marge on this: while Homer admits that Marge was right in that getting the trampoline was ultimately a mistake, he also points out that he's at least willing to go out and try new things and retorts, "If it were up to you, all we'd ever do is work and go to church." Marge, of course, denies this claim, but when he asks her to name one thing she's done in the past month that was even remotely fun, all Marge can think of is a time when she made sloppy joes (which Homer scoffs isn't fun). The episode ends with her deciding that being a boring, nagging, meddling woman is correct (or at least less complicated).
  • Both Sides Have a Point (combined with Dumbass Has a Point): This is what sets off the episode's main plot—
    • First, Homer admits to Marge that she was right in that getting the trampoline was ultimately a bad idea, as she expressed concerns about the potential dangers when Homer first brought it home.
    • But then Homer raises a good point in that it's important to go out and try new things and experiences, as being like Marge (a bossy, boring nag who never does anything new) isn't exactly a better way of living.
    • Then, by the end of the episode, when Do What You Feel Day progresses, everyone is initially having fun, until instances of crudeness and selfishness increases to the point where the day just turns into complete chaos. The lesson is yes, you should have time to do as you feel, but there is a point to control and being in tune with yourself for the benefit of everyone else around you, as complete abandon tends to ruin everyone else's day.
  • Captain Obvious/That Makes Me Feel Angry:
    Homer: Marge, I'm feeling a lot of shame right now.
    Marge: I'm hearing that you feel a lot of shame.
    Homer: And I feel that you hear my shame.
  • The Chosen One: Bart Simpson becomes Springfield's role model. Before long, he finds that being everybody's role model isn't what it's cracked up to be.
  • Control Freak: Homer accuses Marge of being this, complete with a nagging montage.
  • Cowboy Cop: McGarnagle.
    Da Chief: You busted up that crack house pretty bad, McGarnagle. Did you really have to break so much furniture?
    McGarnagle: You tell me, Chief. You had a pretty good view from behind your desk.
    Chief: You're off the case, McGarnagle!
    McGarnagle: You're off your case, Chief!
    Chief: What does that mean exactly?
  • Deconstruction: Marge's Rightly Self-Righteous nature is called out in the episode. After nagging Homer and giving him the cold shoulder after obtaining a trampoline leads to countless injuries, Homer finally snaps back, noting that while she was right in this case, her no-thrills nature is no healthier a lifestyle (not to mention nagging and badgering everyone chronically makes her rather insufferable), something she is rather stirred by. The reason she decides to embrace Status Quo Is God at the end is simply that she assumes that being an insufferable nag would have prevented a city-wide riot somehow (and that she (like the rest of her family, probably bar Lisa) doesn't want to put an effort in self-improvement).
  • Evil Laugh: Upon giving up on getting rid of the trampoline, Homer says it'll rust and gives this kind of laughter.
  • Fan Disservice: Patty and Selma ride horseback naked, but the townspeople are all disgusted by it (except the Sea Captain).
  • Faux to Guide: Troy McClure introduces himself on Adjusting Your Self-O-Stat with "You might remember me from such self-help videos as Smoke Yourself Thin and Get Confident, Stupid."
  • Flashback... Back... Back...: Played straight when Marge watches the video of Brad Goodman ending on the symptom "Chronic Nagging ... nagging ... nagging", then it's parodied when Selma says that her and Patty's TV is on the fritz.
  • Flat "What": Lisa. See You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!
  • Fully Automatic Clip Show: When Marge asks Bart and Lisa whether they agree with what Homer said about her being a boring nag, they're a little hesitant but ultimately agree with their father's assessment — the show even cuts to clips from previous episodes (such as "Homer the Heretic", "Dog of Death," and "Colonel Homer") which prove that Marge's main function is to ruin everyone else's fun by nagging at them.
  • A God Am I: Bart feels like this ... until Lisa points out that he's sitting on an ice cream sandwich and later when he becomes sick of everyone acting like him.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Goodman's teaching was, in a nutshell, being more like Bart in the sense of "Don't worry too much about life." Not only does all of Springfield takes it Up to Eleven (more like "Don't give a shit about anything, even the stuff that can endanger people if you don't give a shit"), but start to imitate Bart's mannerisms (which gives him a short identity crisis) and decides to blame Goodman (to the point he appears to be worshiped like a false God in a quick gag) and Bart when everything goes pear-shaped because of said irresponsibility.
  • The Hedonist: What the people of Springfield become in line with Bart's saying of "I do what I feel like."
  • Incredibly Lame Fun: When Homer challenges Marge to name something fun she's done in the past month, she comes up with having made sloppy joes ... which he proclaims promptly to be this trope.
  • Irritation Is the Sincerest Form of Flattery: Bart soon believes this.
    Skinner: [After hitting Bart with a slingshot] Eat my shorts, young man.
  • It's All My Fault: Marge decides to go back to her killjoy demeanor in the aftermath of "Do What You Feel Day" becoming a disaster, thinking it could have prevented the whole mess.
    Marge: I knew if only I had nagged more.
  • I Warned You:
    • As Marge predicted, getting the trampoline was a bad idea (as a bunch of people end up getting seriously hurt), prompting this trope — Homer later admits that Marge was right about the trampoline affair but also points out that her way of life isn't exactly a good alternative. At the climax, while she sees that people "doing as they feel" (incorrectly, mind) has led to a riot, she mutters "If only I had nagged more..."
    • Lisa was the only one not impressed by Goodman's theories. When things start to go wrong for Bart, she looks very smug.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: After the Simpsons' experience with trampoline ownership turns into a disaster, Marge berates Homer for it and points out she warned him it was going to happen. Homer turns it on her by admitting that, yes, she was right in that getting the trampoline was ultimately a bad idea, but at least he was willing to go out and try something new and different. Marge, on the other hand, never does anything of the sort, and if everyone lived as she did, all they'd do was work and go to church.
  • Long List: Brad Goodman's "feel-bad rainbow":
    Brad Goodman: Depression, insomnia, motor mouth [which is how he's talking at the time], darting eyes, indecisiveness, decisiveness, uncontrollable falling down, geriatric profanity disorder (or GPD), and chronic nagging.
  • Low-Speed Chase: Homer and Bart escaping in the parade float. It devolves to the point the angry mob just gets bored and leaves.
    Skinner: Damn! They're very slowly getting away!
  • Misplaced Retribution: The townsfolk blame Bart and chase him around town when the "Do What You Feel" policy ends up causing chaos, even though Brad Goodman was the one who encouraged them to act like Bart in the first place (with Reverend Lovejoy himself pointing it out).
  • Mondegreen: At Goodman's lecture, when touting Bart's philosophy as one to emulate, he encourages the townspeople to "Be like boy!" and repeat that phrase after him. When he calls on some senior citizens including Abe to do so, they say, "We like Roy!"
  • Never My Fault: When chaos ensues in the "Do What You Feel" festival because some folks "didn't feel" like doing their job, nobody insists on the fact that they should have done their job regardless or accept that they goofed, they all just point the blame elsewhere (Lovejoy blames Goodman first, but then Apu says that Bart is at fault and they all try to catch him).
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Brad Goodman is a parody of motivational guru John Bradshaw.
  • Noodle Incident: After Smithers' Aborted Declaration of Love, he says to himself, "Oh, who am I kidding? The boathouse was the time!" What Burns and Smithers were doing in a boathouse, and why that would've been the perfect time to tell him he loves him, is anyone's guess.
    • The "Do What We Say" festival(s), from which the "Do What You Feel" festival is supposed to be a major departure.
  • Oh, Crap!: Bart lets out a flat "Eep" before everyone chases him.
  • Only Sane Man:
    • Lisa, as usual.
    • Bart becomes one after he grows bored of others emulating him.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Pretty much a lot of people in Springfield, thanks to Bart.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    Kent Brockman: Folks are finally accepting their feelings and really communicating, with no holding back, and this reporter thinks it's about [bleep]ing time!
  • Reality Ensues: Doing only the things you want to do rather than the things you have to do can have some serious consequences.
    • Not everyone who seeks self-help is willing to put in the effort required to actually better themselves, and if they can't get results instantly then they will stop trying. When it becomes obvious that Brad Goodman's easy answers won't work most everybody reverts back to the way they were over proper self-improvement.
  • Reverse Psychology: Bart manages to get rid of the trampoline by chaining it to a post and waiting until somebody steals it. Snake steals it in a few seconds.
  • Scenery Censor: A bunch of balloons conceal Patty and Selma's nudity.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sickening "Crunch!": Otto, who dislocated his shoulder on the trampoline. Fortunately, Bart's able to pop it back into place, but then he's upset that he lost his turn. Wendell then breaks his arm to a disturbing noise, as well.
  • Skewed Priorities: Homer potentially kills someone backing out of their driveway because he believes that they're off to buy the trampoline he wants.
  • Snake Oil Salesman: As per Lisa, Brad Goodman is just selling a bunch of easy answers.
  • Totally Radical: Bart's image in early-'90s pop culture can be seen as this, even though this was never really part of his persona in the actual show (his skateboarding in the opening sequence perhaps being the closest he ever came). The episode parodied this phenomenon, right down to the quoting of "Cowabunga". When popular perception of the show began to focus more on Homer's antics, this aspect subsided.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The climax has the whole town chasing after Bart, blaming him for the whole mess. They let go of the rage as fast as they catch it and go off to get some cider from the old mill, but regardless, for a couple of minutes, they were all willing to lynch a ten-year-old boy because some other guys decided to do their jobs lazily.
  • With Friends Like These...: Apu is the one who spearheads the town into turning on Bart when things go berserk.
  • You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: Lisa has this reaction when everybody is.
  • You Might Remember Me from...: In-Universe. Troy McClure's other self-help videos include Smoke Yourself Thin and Get Confidence, Stupid!

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