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Recap / The Simpsons S 6 E 7 Barts Girlfriend

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Original air date: 11/6/1994

Production code: 2F04

Reverend Lovejoy's preteen daughter, Jessica (voiced by guest star Meryl Streep), arrives in town, and she and Bart strike up a relationship that proves more than he can handle.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Absurdly Powerful School Jurisdiction: Bart uses a balloon to pull up Groundskeeper Willie's kilt during a "Scotchtoberfest" event and immediately gets busted by Principal Skinner who was using the phony "Scotchoberfest" as a sting operation to entrap Bart. Skinner does this even though the sting operation clearly takes place off school grounds and on a Sunday.
  • Abusive Parents: Played for laughs. Marge leashes Bart and Lisa with prison shackles, Nelson's dad uses a whip and wraps it around his son's neck and Kirk van Houten traps Milhouse in a net to force them to go to church.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Implied with the pained look Jessica gives when her father blatantly ignores her one more time (going all "na-na-na-na, I can't hear you" with church songs when she recites her criminal past and flat-out says it's for him to see her as she is).
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Subverted. At first, Jessica seems like the typical sweet preacher's daughter who happens to be attracted to a bad boy, but she turns out to be even worse than he is. In fact, it seems she wants a known bad boy around because she understands how easy it will be to blame any wrongdoing she might get caught in on him.
  • Attack! Attack... Retreat! Retreat!: As the school's being evacuated due to Jessica's false fire alarm, Willie says "If I don't save the wee turtles, who will?", and kicks his way into the science classroom...and moments later runs out covered with little biting turtles, saying "Aah! Save me from the wee turtles! They were too quick for me!"
  • Babies Make Everything Better: Bart believes this, his first plan for dealing with Jessica's toxic nature being to wait until they're old enough to get married and then start a family so that she'll mellow out and be nicer to him.
  • Badass Boast: The "I eat X for breakfast" variant is spoofed. One of the reasons Bart can't stand up to Jessica is because "her hair smells like red Froot Loops," so Lisa goes "Oh yeah? Well, I eat Froot Loops for breakfast!"
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • While coasting down a ludicrously steep hill, Bart sees a jackknifed glue truck. He assumes some of it has spilled and will therefore slow him down. Turns out that the glue ain't going nowhere. Then, when Bart runs over a single wheat grain and falls the rest of the way down the mountain...
      Truck driver: Oh, no! There goes the glue after all!
      (Bart turns to see a wave of glue heading towards him)
    • Immediately after, Bart thinks he hears Jessica singing. It turns out to be Ned.
  • Bait-and-Switch Time Skip: The calendar gag. Bart vows to avoid Jessica, and there's a montage of him marking off days on his calendar. The expectation is that he successfully made it through that amount of time, but then Bart announces:
    Bart: There. If I can just get through this many days without seeing her, she should be completely out of my system. Okay, day one... (circles the first crossed-out day)
    Marge: (pops in) Time for church, Bart. I bet your little friend Jessica will be there.
    Bart: D'oh!
  • Batman Gambit: Skinner sets up "Scotchtoberfest" knowing Bart wouldn't resist pranking the people there.
  • Big "NO!": Bart, just before the wave of glue hits him.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Jessica. Lampshaded when she tells Bart "I'm the sweet, perfect minister's daughter...and you're just yellow trash.".
  • Black Comedy: Bart gets punched in the gut by Nelson for telling people he's dating Jessica, something she denies. Bart writhes on the ground for a few minutes, so Jessica kisses him on the cheek to get him moving. Bart gets back up...only to fall on the ground still writhing. According to the DVD commentary, the writers thought Bart still being in pain would be funnier than if he instantly started to leave with Jessica.
  • Black Comedy Burst: When Marge mentions she's afraid of smothering Bart, Homer thinks she means literally smothering him to death.
    Marge: I guess we could get more involved in Bart's activities, but then I'd be afraid of smothering him.
    Homer: Yeah, and then we'd get the chair.
    Marge: That's not what I meant.
    Homer: It was, Marge, admit it.
  • Blue Boy, Pink Girl: Jessica's the pink girl to Bart's blue boy.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: When Marge tells Bart that it's time for the family to go to church after he's resolved never to see Jessica again, Bart replies with a frustrated "D'oh!"
  • Cassandra Truth: Bart protects Jessica by refusing to name her as the person who cleaned out the collection basket, stating only that it wasn't him. As Jessica points out, given both of their reputations, they won't be likely to believe him even if he does tell. It takes Lisa to set the record straight.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Lisa fantasizes about a Troubled, but Cute kid who works at the library while trying to help Bart. At the end of the episode Jessica drives away with the same kid.
  • Child Prodigy: Jessica has an amazing I.Q. and reads at a higher grade level than normal. Subverted in that Bart only thinks she is; her I.Q. is 108 and she reads at a fifth grade level, both putting her only actually slightly above average, but enough to amaze Bart.
  • The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes: Despite his endless moralizing, Reverend Lovejoy can't discipline his daughter Jessica. It seems this is because Lovejoy is in deep, willing denial over what kind of person Jessica really is. When he mentions that they probably took her out of boarding school a little early, Jessica gets fed up and points out that she got expelled. As she begins listing numerous offenses, Lovejoy covers his ears and starts singing a hymn while Jessica demands that he pay attention to her.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Reverend Lovejoy gets so desperate after the church money is found in Jessica's room that he accuses Bart of somehow sneaking his room into the Lovejoy house. Everyone else just stares blankly at him, to which he angrily responds for them to think it over... that is until Jessica confesses to having done the deed.
  • Continuity Nod: Ned Flanders is shown with the ability to sing like a woman when in church, very much like how he would scream like a woman in "Bart of Darkness."
  • Couch Gag: The lights are out with only the Simpsons' eyes visible as they enter. The lights turn on revealing it's only their eyes, until the family rushes in and sits down, reconnecting with their eyes.
  • Daddy Issues: Jessica's self-absorbed, manipulative tendencies seem to stem from the fact that her dad only cares about his projected image of her and not her actual needs.
  • Delayed Reaction: Homer when Bart (under false suspicion of having stolen the collection plate money) makes a break for it.
    Homer: (a full several seconds after Bart has gone) Stop him! He's heading for the window!
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • Skinner gave Bart detention for pulling a harmless prank on Willie. On Sunday, off school grounds, and at a made-up event, with the intention of catching Bart pulling the prank (during what was essentially a sting operation). In other words, Skinner gave Bart detention just because he could.
    • Nelson punches Bart in the stomach for "besmirching an innocent girl's name".
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Averted. Jessica is plainly shown to be a manipulative brat who knowingly takes advantage of boys and the trouble she lands Bart in is... well, it's played about as straight as this show is willing to go.
  • Especially Zoidberg: As the Sunday school teacher puts it, when Bart was banned from Sunday school, he was happy with it, everyone was happy with it, and particularly the hamster.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • Bart even finds stealing from the collection's plate low, despite what the church thought of him. Earlier, he was shocked by Jessica pulling the fire alarm.
      Bart: (to Jessica) You're turning me into a criminal when all I want to be is a petty thug.
    • Invoked when Jessica finally confesses to stealing from the collection plate, though the reason has more to do with her disgust at Reverend Lovejoy's willful blindness than it does with any remorse for letting Bart take the blame.
    • Even the people of Springfield aren't stupid enough to buy Reverend Lovejoy's Insane Troll Logic explanation for the church collection money being in Jessica's bedroom.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Happens with Jessica Lovejoy after she's caught framing Bart Simpson and stealing the church collection plate money. When she sees Bart approach her while doing her punishment of washing the church steps, she assumes Bart is going to laugh at her. He instead confesses how their small relationship taught him not to be naïve around girls. Jessica, however, confesses that she's learned she can make boys do whatever she wants and proves it by asking Bart to finish the job while she runs off with another boy. Bart claims he sees through her deception but then says, "Wait until she sees the second-rate job I do on these stairs".
  • Evil Counterpart: While Bart is openly a troublemaker, he also has moments of sympathy and morality. Jessica, however, hides behind an image of being the pure-hearted Reverend's daughter, while acting in ways that horrify even Bart.
  • Evil Laugh: Bart ends the episode cackling at the thought of making Jessica look bad by doing a shoddy job cleaning the church steps.
  • Eviler than Thou: Bart discovers to his shock that Jessica is even worse than he is. She even frames him for stealing from the church. When Jessica used Bart to pull the fire alarm prank instead of just affectionately holding his hand like she made it seem, Bart gets an Oh, Crap! look on his face as if to say "What did I get myself into?"
  • Exploding Calendar: The "crossing off days" variation is parodied. Bart resolves to avoid seeing Jessica for a while, and then he's seen marking several months' worth of days on his calendar. But then, of course, Marge comes in and tells him it's time for church - where Jessica will surely be.
  • Fille Fatale: Amongst boys smitten by her, Jessica falls right into the role of femme fatale, and she isn't afraid to use it.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Bart's calendar for April shows 31 days (the month only has 30 days), while his calendar for May shows 30 days (the month has 31 days). Though it's entirely possible this wasn't deliberate but rather an animation/writing goof.
  • Freudian Excuse: Apparently the reason Jessica acts like a total bad girl is that she craves attention due to her father not giving her any.
  • Gambit Roulette: Skinner's "sting operation" on Bart involves getting Willie to wear a kilt and positioning him outside the church under the assumption that Bart will take steps to treat onlookers to an upskirt view. He was arguably only in the right place at the right time because he was leaving Sunday school, which he'd been banned from and had pleaded for readmittance that very day in an effort to impress Jessica.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Lisa initially gives her brother's framer a chance to come clean on her own. When this is ignored, she grips the pulpit and yells at everyone that Jessica is the culprit. This honesty is what resolves the plot.
  • Heartfelt Apology: At first, the townspeople believed that Bart stolen the church money and treated him as a hated individual, but when it became clear that Jessica is the real culprit, the townspeople (on Marge's insistence) apologized to Bart for their behavior.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • When Bart is accused of stealing church money, Homer says he'll believe it if Bart tells him he didn't. Bart does so and Homer not only refuses to believe him but also asks how Bart can dare to lie while strangling him. (Bart wasn't but, either way, Homer had just set a bad example by falsely claiming he'd believe Bart.)
    • Marge doesn't want Bart to play with a Troll doll because it has "such bizarre hair".
    • Prior to that, Marge tells Bart he has to go to church "to learn morals and decency, and how to love your fellow man". Cut to Lovejoy reading a graphically violent passage. And before that, she and the other parents capture the kids and even have Bart and Lisa in metal collars on a chain.
    • Bart laughs at the "poor sucker" who picks up Jessica on his bike when she's only available to leave with him because Bart took over scrubbing the church steps.
      Bart: It's amazing what some guys will do for a pretty face. Not me, though. Wait till she sees the second-rate job I do on these stairs.
  • I Can Change My Beloved: Bart figures out pretty quickly that Jessica is bad news, but his first plan for dealing with it is to just take her abuse until they're old enough to get married and have a baby on the assumption that she'll have no choice but to be nicer then. Lisa tells him it's naïve to think it's possible to change someone, unless it's her crush, the rude kid who works at the library.
    Lisa: Well-read and just a little wild. Ooh, if only someone could tame him.
  • Ignored Aesop: Enforced. The creators state that in Real Life, it is very difficult for a person to change their ways—Jessica never learns that misbehaving isn't a good way to live and her dad never learns to actually discipline her when she behaves badly. Zig-zagged with Bart. Jessica talks him into doing her punishment (cleaning the church stairs). While he only intends to do a second-rate job, he's still wasting his time doing this instead of just walking away.
  • Ignoring by Singing: Tim starts loudly singing church hymns to block out Jessica pouring her heart out over her true nature.
  • Implausible Deniability: Jessica steals money from the church collection plate and manipulates Bart into taking the fall. Lisa gets frustrated at this and rats her out, leading to the entire church congregation going to Jessica's room and finding the stolen money under her mattress. Reverend Lovejoy still tries to blame Bart, claiming that he somehow transplanted his bedroom into the Lovejoy household, at which point Jessica finally confesses (while admitting that it was just a stunt to get her father's attention).
  • Insane Troll Logic: When the missing collection plate money is found in Jessica's room, Reverend Lovejoy isn't convinced:
    Lovejoy: I think it's obvious what has happened here: Bart Simpson has somehow managed to sneak his bedroom into my house. (nobody's buying it) Well come on, use your imagination!
  • I Resemble That Remark!: When Jessica tells Bart he's just yellow trash, Bart lets out a very trash-y "huh?"
  • Ironic Echo:
    Lisa: (near the beginning) I just think you and Jessica are too different from each other to get along. She's a sweet, kind reverend's daughter, and you're the devil's cabana boy.
    Jessica: (after she has framed Bart for stealing) If you tell, no one will believe you. Remember, I'm the sweet, perfect minister's daughter, and you're just yellow trash!
  • Jerkass:
    • Reverend Lovejoy has his daughter read the passage he just read to punish a few people for not paying attention. After the collection plate is stolen, he has Bart locked up in a straitjacket like he's a patient of a mental institution during the next sermon without ever apologising or giving Bart a chance to defend himself.
    • Skinner plants a trap that ends with Bart held at gunpoint by several people just so he can throw Bart in detention for three months while it's a weekend.
    • Jessica makes Bart look like a saint in comparison.
  • Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk: Every time Bart seems to think he's talked Jessica into changing her ways, she screws him over.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Skinner gets away with putting Bart into a three-month detention sentence outside of an angry Groundskeeper Willie yelling at him for being an Unwitting Pawn in the scheme.
    • Jessica also gets away with much of her actions towards Bart until the collection plate's money is stolen. But this is more or less because Lovejoy refuses to believe that his daughter is as much of a delinquent as Bart is.
  • Kick the Dog: Jessica talks Bart into going up to the top of an impossibly steep hill, then shoves him down it.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Jessica's a very naughty girl who's around Bart's age.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Lampshaded by Bart.
    Bart: Is it my hair? My overbite? The fact that I've worn the same clothes day in, day out for the last four years?
  • Little Sister Instinct: Lisa enforces this trope full-on when she finds out the truth about the stolen collection plate.
    Bart: Give it up, Lis: she's a criminal mastermind. She's got 108 IQ, she reads at a 5th-grade level, and...(sighs) her hair smells like red Fruit Loops.
    Lisa: Yeah? Well, I eat Fruit Loops for breakfast.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Skinner using Willie as a pawn for the "Scotchtoberfest" scheme hinged on this, unsurprisingly Willie calls Skinner out on this.
  • Love at First Sight: Bart has this reaction to Jessica.
  • Love Martyr: Well aware of what she's like, Bart is still on the verge of becoming this to Jessica. Luckily, Lisa steers him straight.
    Bart: No, no, wait, hear my plan. Put up with her for seven more years. Then we'll get married. Once the first baby comes along, she's bound to settle down and start treating me right! After all, I deserve it!
  • Made of Iron: While going full tilt down a steep hill on his skateboard, Bart crashes into an ant and bounces down the rest of the hill, but looks fine when he goes home.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Jessica uses her beauty to manipulate boys and timidity to manipulate adults and girls.
  • Medium Awareness: Much of the Simpson characters with yellow skin are often portrayed as Caucasian, but instead of White Trash, Jessica Lovejoy refers to Bart as Yellow Trash.
  • Mistaken Confession: Lisa tries to get Jessica Lovejoy to confess to stealing the church's collection money, so she stands in front of the congregation and asks that the criminal confess now. As she didn't specify which crime she was referring to, everyone in town starts owning up to random things. And when Jessica plays dumb through the entire thing, Lisa just says "Oh, what the heck...IT WAS JESSICA LOVEJOY!"
    Skinner: Agh! I smelled some marijuana smoke in Vietnam!
    Grampa: I was the one that cancelled Star Trek!
    Dr. Hibbert: I left my Porsche keys inside Mrs. Glick!
  • More Deadly Than the Male: Bart is thrilled to connect with a fellow troublemaker until it becomes clear that she's willing to cross lines he wouldn't dream of and is playing him like a fiddle to boot.
  • Motor Mouth: "Stealerofmoneyfromthechurchcollectionplate!"
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Skinner looks rather guilt-ridden as Groundskeeper Willie chastises him for "using" him in his "Scotchtoberfest" setup.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Whatever it was Bart did to the Sunday school hamster, which has left the poor thing terrified of him.
    • When Jessica points out that she was expelled from boarding school rather than having voluntarily left, she brings up incidents regrading "the pipe bomb," "the glee club brawl," and "the school chapel collection plate."
    • Whatever Bart's past relationship was with "Sarah, plain and tall" (a reference to the 1986 Newbery-winning book of the same name).
  • Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond: Jessica's 108 IQ (slightly above average) and reading at a fifth-grade level (not bad if she's in fourth, but hardly impressive) are treated as her being "a criminal mastermind." By Springfield standards, that seems very probable.
  • Not Me This Time: Everyone thinks Bart stole the money, but he's actually innocent. Not that anyone believes him besides Lisa and Marge.
  • One-Liner, Name... One-Liner: When Skinner reveals that "Scotchtoberfest" — which Groundskeeper Willie is celebrating in full Scottish regalia — isn’t a real holiday but rather a ruse to bait Bart into bad behavior, Willie is devastated and furiously shouts, "Ya used me, Skinner! Ya used me!"
  • Parental Neglect: Helen and Tim Lovejoy are emotionally neglectful to Jessica, ignoring that she's a troublemaker and was expelled from boarding school instead of getting her help. Tim even leaves the room singing hymns to ignore her openly admitting to the things she did to get expelled from boarding school to try and get attention from him.
  • Preacher's Kid: Jessica falls into the category of the rebellious troublemaker who pretends to be sweet and nice so that everyone thinks she's innocent and can do no wrong.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Bart laughs about sticking Jessica with a second-rate cleaning job of the church stairs. Of course, she's out having fun, while he's spending time scrubbing down stairs that don't even look particularly dirty to start with.
  • Rapid-Fire "But!": Bart visits the Lovejoy house to have dinner with Jessica. When Bart's crude language gets him thrown out, he stammers "But-But-But...", but Helen believes he's saying "butt" and covers her ears while shouting "Please, make him stop!"
  • Rays from Heaven: Parodied. These illuminate Jessica the first time Bart sees her, causing him to say, "There is a God!" Turns out the recurring sea captain just had his lighthouse pointed towards the church.
    Man: I'm tellin' ya, the light would work better if it pointed out to sea!
    Sea Captain: Arr, shut up. I know what I'm doing! (watching a boat crash against some rocks) Yarr, I hate the sea and everythin' in it.
  • Same Content, Different Rating: The episode was originally rated PG (suitable for children, but only with parental supervision) by the BBFC when it came out on VHSnote , but now has a U (suitable for all audiences) rating uncut since 2005.
  • Secret Relationship: Jessica denies being Bart's girlfriend in public, justifying it by saying they have to keep their relationship secret so she won't get in trouble with her parents.
  • Selective Obliviousness: Tim Lovejoy blatantly refuses to believe that Jessica is anything but the perfect little Reverend's daughter, despite overwhelming proof and her directly telling him of all her crimes.
  • Shaming the Mob: Marge makes a point of getting everyone to apologize to Bart after Lisa reveals that he's been Wrongly Accused.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The opening sequence of the kids running away from Church contains several references to Planet of the Apes (1968), including a brief snippet of Jerry Goldsmith's soundtrack.
    • Bart gets the full Hannibal Lecter restraints when he's being treated like a pariah by the rest of the churchgoers.
    • Bart announcing that he's going to strut and walking around to The Bee Gees "Stayin' Alive" playing is what happens at the end of the Saturday Night Fever sequel, Staying Alive.
    • Bart's ill-thought-out anecdote to the Lovejoys is from Martin.
  • Singing Voice Dissonance: Bart hears angelic singing on his way to church. He assumes it's Jessica, but it turns out to be Ned Flanders singing in falsetto.
    Bart: That's very disturbing.
  • Skewed Priorities: Marge doesn't want Bart playing with a troll doll in church. Not because it's rude or because she thinks he needs to pay better attention to the sermon, but because she hates the sight of such a bizarre hairstyle.
  • Smug Snake: Jessica, full-bore. When Bart first accuses her of being too far with the wrongdoing, she tells him that as the Reverend's kid she will be believed and not him, and when Lisa tries to indirectly tell her in front of the other churchgoers to please tell the truth, she just smugly smiles back, which breaks Lisa's Rage Breaking Point.
    Lisa: Oh, what the heck, (points at Jessica) it was Jessica Lovejoy!
  • Special Guest: Meryl Streep as Jessica Lovejoy.
  • Stop Saying That!: Bart tries to impress Reverend and Helen Lovejoy when he's invited to dinner by their daughter Jessica. But it goes very wrong:
    Rev. Lovejoy: Don't you ever come near my daughter again! Never have I heard such gratuitous use of the word "butt"!
    Bart: But-but-but...
    Helen Lovejoy: [plugging her ears] Make him stop, make him stop!
  • Sustained Misunderstanding:
    Marge: Have you noticed any change in Bart?
    Homer: New glasses?
    Marge: No, he looks like something might be disturbing him.
    Homer: Probably misses his old glasses.
  • Strict Parents Make Sneaky Kids: Subverted — it is eventually revealed that Reverend Lovejoy is an utter Jerkass of a parent that refuses to acknowledge Jessica as a regular human being that seeks attention and love. As a result, when Jessica recites her long criminal record in an attempt to draw his attention, he just places his hands over his ears and sings church songs so he won't hear her as he runs out of the room.
  • Supermodel Strut: After Jessica invites Bart for dinner with her family, Bart is feeling so full of himself that he does a cocky, confident strut towards the camera to the tune of "Stayin' Alive", as a Shout-Out to Saturday Night Fever.
  • Tempting Fate: Bart's skateboard trip down a dangerously steep hill after Jessica pushes him is a master class.
    Bart: Actually, if the road surface maintains its integrity, I just might be able to hold on. (He swiftly passes two truck crashes that spilled, respectively, oil and ball bearings all over the road. Then sees a similarly-crashed glue truck.) The glue will slow me down!
    Trucker: Any glue leaking?
    Second Trucker: Nah, that glue ain't going nowhere.
    (An ant drops a large seed in the road, perfectly jamming the wheel of his skateboard and sending him bouncing painfully down the rest of the hill.)
  • Troll: Among the things Jessica talks Bart into doing is eating ice cream in front of overweight people exercising.
  • Unwitting Pawn:
    • Willie.
      Skinner: (to Bart) There's no such thing as Scotchtoberfest.
      Willie: There's not? Ya used me, Skinner! YA USED ME!
    • Bart himself, to Jessica, to whom he's pretty much just a handy dupe.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: Bart's calendar with which he marks days to avoid seeing Jessica shows April having 31 days instead of 30. Additionally, it shows the month starting on a Monday, when April 1, 1994 was actually a Friday. It also shows May having 30 days instead of 31, starting on a Wednesday when May 1, 1994 was actually a Sunday, and it also shows June starting on a Tuesday when June 1, 1994 was actually a Wednesday (at least they correctly showed June having 30 days).