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Recap / The Simpsons S 6 E 2 Lisas Rival

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Episode - 1F17
First Aired - 9/11/1994
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Allison Taylor (voiced by Winona Ryder), a new girl at school, proves to be better at Lisa in the classroom and on the saxophone. Meanwhile, Homer sells sugar found on the street after a truck crash.

This was the first Simpsons episode written by Mike Scully, who eventually became showrunner of seasons 9 to 12.

This also was the 100th episode produced, though the writers always intended "Sweet Seymour Skinner's Baadasssss Song" to be the Milestone Celebration.


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This episode contains examples of:

  • The Ace: Allison, to the point that Lisa feels threatened by her.
  • Acquired Situational Narcissism: A funny version. As his speech to Marge demonstrates, Homer thinks having a big pile of sugar in his back yard makes him a king among men.
  • Ad-Break Double-Take: Subverted. Lisa tires herself up while having a saxophone duel against Allison, triggering a fade-to-black when fainting. When she wakes up, she's told Allison won the part, prompting her to scream as another fade out occurs. Except the ad break doesn't come, but rather a phony double take follows showing the exact same scene. When she wakes up, she's told Allison won the part, except "this time it's NOT a dream!", prompting her to scream as a third fade out occurs and the actual break finally begins.
    • The scene that comes after the actual break is not a double take at all.
  • All for Nothing: Lisa attempting to sabotage Allison to win turns out to be for naught because Skinner and Ms. Hoover both turn out to be unimpressed with the diorama Allison made, and even less impressed with the one that Lisa made.
  • All Just a Dream: Lisa is competing so hard against Allison for the first chair saxophone position that she faints in the middle of it. After "regaining consciousness", she's told that Allison got the chair and Lisa screams. The screen then blacks out and she really wakes up ... only to be told the exact same thing with the added disclaimer, "And believe me, this is not a dream!"
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  • Always Someone Better: Allison to Lisa. She is smarter, younger, more productive and a better saxophone player than her.
  • Apathetic Teacher: Ralph wins, even though he didn't even do the assignment, because he brought in Star Wars action figures in their original packaging, which impresses Skinner, and it was close to lunchtime.
  • Assumed Win:
    • Lisa's saxophone duel with Allison Taylor (see below).
    • Lisa also assumes she's going to win after sabotaging Allison's diorama. See Was It Really Worth It? below.
  • Beat Still, My Heart: Lisa taking rival Allison's diorama of "The Tell-Tale Heart" and replacing it with an animal heart. Then, in a direct Homage to the poem, she imagines herself hearing the heart in the gym floorboards.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Bart is motivated to help Lisa because he hates seeing her so miserable (well, most of the time).
  • Big Eater: Uter was gluttonous enough to make an edible diorama of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and eat the entire thing before Skinner and Miss Hoover could even judge it.
  • Big "YES!": Jimbo when he makes it into the band with his tambourine.
  • Brick Joke: Milhouse gets chased by the FBI and is later shown jumping off a dam, breaking his glasses. During Diorama-rama, Milhouse's glasses are cracked and covered in tape.
  • Buxom Is Better: In Marge's Imagine Spot, she's well-endowed. The beefcake pirate she's with comments on it.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Parody: Uter's book report diorama is based on this book. Unfortunately, Principal Skinner didn't heed the boy's request to look at his first — by the time he gets there, Uter has already eaten the diorama (apparently it was actually made of chocolate) leaving only an empty box!
  • Chewing the Scenery: One of the beekeepers calls to mind Adam West. His speech is filled with frequent pauses and changes in volume. He also calls his Chevy "The Beemobile" and Homer "diabolical".
  • Child Prodigy: Allison is younger than Lisa, but she's even more of a prodigy than she is.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • After missing one day of work to sell sugar, Homer is warned that, if he misses Friday, he's not to bother showing up at the power plant on Monday. Homer is happy at the prospect of having a "four-day weekend".
    • Marge gets one too. Lisa says to her "Maybe you could have been nicer to Principal Skinner, if you know what I mean!" and Marge says in response, "Lisa! I am nice."
  • Condescending Compassion: Mr. Taylor has shades of this possibly reflective of his worst aspects of his character (even for a flat one time character), with some mix of TV Genius and Not Good with People. Constantly during Lisa's visit, he gives her a ball to play with due to how she doesn't have the sort of intellect that he and Allison have, and patronizes her constantly about it as if she was but a brainless child.
  • Crack Defeat: Lisa reluctantly enlists Bart's aid in attempting to defeat Allison in a diorama competition. However, Ralph Wiggum's 'diorama', which is nothing but a bunch of Star Wars action figures in their original packaging, wins the competition, making this an example of both a Crack Defeat and a Dark Horse Victory.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: Homer insists that there are thieves trying to steal his sugar pile. He's correct.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: In a fairly silly case of this, Marge points out that Homer's stolen sugar scheme actually makes him far less money than he would have made if he just went to work normally (because selling bags of heavily contaminated sugar for rates higher than store-bought sugar turns out to have been dumb). Homer insists that he's actually doing it simply because he wants to live a more exciting life.
  • Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: "IT'S THE BEATING OF THE HIDEOUS HEART! I mean, I think I hear something."
  • Drop the Hammer: Nelson's diorama of The Grapes of Wrath amounted to him taking a large pile of grapes and unleashing his wrath; in other words, smashing the grapes with a wooden mallet to splash juice on everyone around him.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: Both Lisa and Allison took a lot of time building their dioramas (Lisa hand-carved over 70 characters and Allison built an automatically moving floorboard). Not only do both of them lose, but the winner of the contest ends up being Ralph, who didn't even know what a diorama was and just loaded a box up with unopened Star Wars action figures.
  • Easily Forgiven: Allison, after Lisa sabotaged her diorama, causing her to be humiliated, scolded, and denigrated in front of the school, still wanted to befriend Lisa.
  • Establishing Character Moment: After finishing an exam, Ms. Hoover makes an additional question for extra credits. Allison after waiting a bit, raises her hand and answers it, impressing Ms. Hoover and Lisa, and establishing her as a smart girl.
    • Later, when Lisa greets Allison, the latter introduces herself as a 7-year-old girl that was advanced from 1st grade and reveals to be a saxophone player.
  • Freudian Slip: When Lisa's saxophone interrupts Marge's romance novel daydream, Marge says, "Lisa, stop blowing my sex — I mean, stop blowing your sax! Your sax, stop it!"
  • Friendship Moment: At the end of the episode Lisa has gotten over her jealousy and apologises to Allison.
    Allison: Can we still be friends?
    Lisa: Only if we're the best.
  • Gonna Need More X: Homer attempts to fix Marge's camera using an electric drill in a somewhat unconventional manner: he uses it in lieu of a chisel, striking it with a hammer. When this fails, destroying the camera entirely, he remarks "I'm going to need a bigger drill."
  • Graceful Loser: Allison admits that she didn't mind losing the diorama competition to Ralph.
  • Hyperventilation Bag: Lisa does this after meeting Allison who appears to be smarter than she is.
  • Idiot Ball: Lisa is no less smart than she usually is, but she's feeling like an idiot because Allison has proven to be better than her at everything. Visiting Allison's house, Lisa attempts to play an anagram game with Allison's father (a professor) but fails miserably. Taking her to be a simpleton, Allison's father hands Lisa a red rubber ball, saying "this is a ball. Perhaps you'd like to bounce it."
  • Innocently Insensitive: Allison seems to be completely oblivious to just how inferior she makes Lisa feel until the end of the episode.
  • It's Quiet… Too Quiet: Parodied in a scene at an apiary after all the bees leave to steal Homer's sugar.
    Beekeeper 1: Well, sure is quiet in here today.
    Beekeeper 2: Yes, a little too quiet ... if you know what I mean.
    Beekeeper 1: Hmm ... I'm afraid I don't.
    Beekeeper 2: You see, bees usually make ... a lot of noise. NO NOISE ... suggests no bees.
  • Insufferable Genius: Subversively for her trope, not Allison (directly anyway). Her father on the other hand apparently keeps a ball on hand and offers it to intellectual inferiors for them to bounce. Lisa's expression says it all.
  • Lesser Star: Parodied. Lisa takes solace in that there's nothing wrong being the second-best at anything. She then imagines a future in which she, Art Garfunkel, Jim Messina, and John Oates play their #2 song "Born to Runner-Up". The concert is sponsored by Avis (the #2 car rental company). They get booed off the stage, and she wakes up lampshading the invokedFridge Logic of why people would show up to their concert just to boo them.
  • Literal-Minded: Nelson's diorama on The Grapes of Wrath was literally just a pile of grapes on a table and the "wrath" was him smashing them with a mallet.
  • Look Behind You: "Hey, it's Bart! And he's doin' stuff!"
  • Made of Iron: Milhouse jumps down a raging waterfall to escape the FBI. The next we see him, his glasses and left arm are broken, but that's about it.
  • New Job as the Plot Demands: Subverted with Homer's short-lived sugar business, as Marge points out that he'd have made far more money by just going to the nuclear plant as normal, and the plant in turn threatens to fire him if he misses another day of work. Played straight by Hans Moleman, who is shown working as a delivery driver for a sugar company — though considering he managed to crash his truck, it's probably no surprise that he didn't last long in that job.
  • Nice Girl: Allison's not actively malevolent in any way, just a rival.
  • Noodle Incident: What did Bart do to get Milhouse in trouble with the FBI? All we (as viewers) have to go on is Bart once sent in Milhouse's picture to America's Most Wanted. And, according to Milhouse's "Oh, no, not again!", this isn't the first time that this has happened, or the FBI have been chasing him for a while now.
  • Not So Above It All: Bart does some research on Allison, but he says he knows this kind of stuff goes beyond Lisa's moral code and standards. Lisa immediately grabs the paper and starts reading (not that there's anything juicy there, anyway).
  • Oh, No... Not Again!: Milhouse, as the FBI agents move in on him.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: Despite being the responsible and practical one, Marge seems oddly okay with Homer taking an unofficial four-day weekend.
  • Properly Paranoid: Marge thinks Homer's worrying over nothing as he tries to guard his stolen sugar with a baseball bat. And then Homer pulls out a neatly dressed, tea-drinking gentleman who calmly states he stole from Homer's pile and would do so again given the chance.
    • And it seems the guy never left Homer's backyard because when rain dissolves the sugar, he does a Spit Take.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Beekeeper 1 (as numbered in this page's quotes) is the Blue Oni to Beekeeper 2's Red Oni.
  • The Rival: Lisa forms a one-sided rivalry with the new girl, Allison Taylor. Too bad she is Demoted to Extra for the remainder of the series, even after their reconciliation.
  • Scary Stinging Swarm: Subverted. Homer has a giant sugar pile and is initially annoyed when a swarm of bees lands on it ("Oww! Oh, they're defending themselves somehow!"). However, the beekeepers arrive and offer to buy all the sugar to get their bees back. Unfortunately for Homer, a flash rainstorm melts the sugar and disperses the bees before he gets paid.
  • Second Place Is for Losers: When Lisa considers her predicament.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: After a whole third act of buildup on whether Lisa should let Allison win or sabotage her to guarantee victory ... it turns out that Skinner and Hoover are too apathetic to care how good either diorama is, leading Skinner to award Ralph because he liked his action figures.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Milhouse's sub-story is a reference to The Fugitive.
    • Homer's "In America" speech while guarding his sugar pile is a direct reference to one of Tony Montana's lines in Scarface (1983), and his line "Oh, what a world!" when the sugar melts is the same line used by Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz when she melts.
    • The speech patterns of the beekeeper voiced by Hank Azaria are based on Adam West's portrayal of Batman.
      Beekeeper 2: To the BEEMOBILE!
      Beekeeper 1: You mean your Chevy?
      Beekeeper 2: ...Yes.
    • Dueling Saxophones.
    • Nelson's showcase is on The Grapes of Wrath. He demonstrates it by smashing a bunch of grapes with a mallet.
  • Shoddy Knock Off Product: Mmmmm ... Farmer Homer's Sugar. Complete with glass shards, metal bits, and even rocks and pebbles from where it was salvaged from.
  • Significant Anagram: One game Allison and her father play is making anagrams out of people's names, e.g. Alec Guinness = Genuine Class. When they ask Lisa to make an anagram out of Jeremy Irons, Lisa is stumped, answering "Jeremy's ... Iron?"note  In response to this, Allison's father gives her a ball, saying "You know what? I have a ball. Perhaps you'd like to bounce it?"
  • Snipe Hunt: We first see Homer trying to fix a camera for Marge. The next scene has Marge tell Lisa that she sacrificed the camera, knowing full well Homer would destroy it, just to get some peace and quiet.
  • Special Guest: Winona Ryder as Allison Taylor.
  • Spot of Tea: A stereotypical Englishman stole part of Homer's sugar pile.
    Homer: All right pal, where did you get the sugar for that tea?
    British Man: I nicked it when you let your guard down for that split second and I'd do it again. [Sips tea] Goodbye.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Sabotaging a competitor doesn't necessarily guarantee you will win. Principal Skinner takes only one look at Lisa's diorama, bluntly says it doesn't deserve to win and moves on.
  • Suspiciously Clean Criminal Record: Lisa is jealous of the new girl in school and, in desperation, asks Bart to dig up some dirt on her. Bart reports that the girl is "clean as a bean."
  • That Was Not a Dream: Played straight. While competing with Allison so hard to win first chair saxophone, Lisa passes out from lack of air. She wakes up to see Mr. Largo, Principal Skinner, and other students leaning over her.
    Mr. Largo: Well, that was a close one, Lisa, but you made it!
    Lisa: I won first chair?
    Mr. Largo: No, you regained consciousness. Allison got first chair.
    [Lisa screams ... and then groggily wakes up to the same scene]
    Lisa: Ga...huh? Oh, it was all a dream!
    Mr. Largo: Well, that was a close one, Lisa, but you made it!
    Lisa: I won first chair?
    Mr. Largo: No, you regained consciousness. Allison got first chair. And believe me, this is not a dream!
    [Lisa screams again.]
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Skinner when he and Miss Hoover get to Ralph. Of course, he ends up loving Ralph's supposed diorama.
  • To The Bat Noun: "To the Beemobile!" note 
  • Unishment: Homer treats Marge's news passed along from the power plant, that he needn't bother coming in the next Monday if he doesn't come in on Friday, as this (the "four-day weekend" mentioned above).
  • Unknown Rival: Allison has no idea how much Lisa resents and feels threatened by her.
  • The Unreveal: Lisa's diorama that she ultimately submitted to the contest, the one that "doesn't deserve to win."
  • Was It Really Worth It?: Subverted; Lisa mentally prepares for this after she successfully ruins Allison's diorama and Skinner humiliates her in front of everybody, ridding Lisa with guilt, but gets a result she doesn't expect:
    Lisa (to herself): After the way I behaved, I don't deserve to win—
    Principal Skinner (passing without breaking stride): Well, this doesn't deserve to win.
    Lisa: What?
    [Principal Skinner selects Ralph's diorama — which is just pristine original Star Wars action figures — as the winner]
  • We Need a Distraction: Bart does this so Lisa can switch dioramas on Allison. After a little bit of Bart doing random nonsense, Skinner tells him to stop causing a distraction and get out.
  • With Friends Like These...: Bart somehow got his best friend, Milhouse, in trouble with the FBI, has been providing them with periodic tip-offs on where he is hiding, and is downright gleeful about it.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The FBI agents aren't trying to kill Milhouse, but they're pretty blasé about driving their car right through an occupied schoolground at lunchtime. That said, they also say they'll try to take him alive. They're not bothered either way.

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