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Recap / The Simpsons S7 E11 "Marge Be Not Proud"

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You really screwed up this time, Bart Simpson.

Episode - 3F07
First Aired - 12/17/1995

In the second Christmas Episode, Bart gets busted for shoplifting the season's must-have video game and Marge decides to cut him out of everything the family is doing for Christmas, out of depression and the realization that he's not the little boy she loves anymore.


  • Analogy Backfire: When Bart demands Bonestorm for Christmas, Homer crosses from Sidetracked by the Analogy right into this. He recalls how, when he was ten, he "wanted an electric football game" (it's not entirely clear if he means a video game by this)—and his parents bought it for him.
  • An Aesop: It's never okay to steal, and how it disappoints those you care about can hurt even more than legal reprucutions for it.
  • Asinine Alternate Activity: Bart wants to get the new video game Bonestorm for Christmas, but Marge finds it too violent and suggests getting Lee Carvallo's Putting Challenge. At the end, after their relationship falls apart and is subsequently repaired, Marge reveals that she bought him a certain video game as a surprise gift. Take a good guess what it was.
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  • Awesome, but Impractical: "Thrillhouse"note  sounds cool, but it's too long for the game screen (it's cut at Thrillho). This wouldn't have been an issue with the actual name.
  • The Atoner: Bart becomes guilt-ridden when Marge becomes heartbroken by his shoplifting and tries to make it up to her.
  • Badass Santa: In the video game commercial, two children are bored playing a bloodless knock-off of Mortal Kombat, when Santa's sleigh (pulled by two snarling reindeer) bursts through their living room wall. Santa is bulging with muscles and is heavily armed. "YOU WANT EXCITEMENT?!?! STICK THIS UP YOUR STOCKING!!!" He fires a video game cartridge via RPG into their port. It is an incredibly bloody Beat 'em Up and the children (and Bart) are instantly enthralled. He closes the commercial saying "TELL YOUR PARENTS TO BUY YOU BONESTORM, OR GO TO HELL!!!"
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  • Bait-and-Switch: Bart gets caught shoplifting and the security guard threatened him with juvenile hall if he caught him in the store again. He hides the message so the family remain unaware but soon learns that they are going to have their picture taken at the same store. Suddenly steam appears to shoot out his ears accompanied by a loud whistle. Marge then announces her teapots are ready and reveals two hot kettles previously hidden behind Bart's head.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Bart feels smothered by Marge's babying of him and wishes she would back off. Not too long after he's caught shoplifting...
  • Black Sheep: Bart after he's caught shoplifting, saying that everyone thinks he's one.
  • Bowdlerization: The original FOX broadcast cut out the store detective's line, "If I wanted smoke blown up my ass, I'd stay at home with a pack of cigarettes and a short length of hose." This line is also cut on the UK's Sky One channel.note 
  • Brick Joke: When Bart tries to rent a copy of Bonestorm from the Android's Dungeon, Comic Book Guy doesn't have any but tries to convince Bart to rent Lee Carvallo's Putting Challenge since no one was buying it, which is what Bart ends up getting for Christmas.
  • Calling Out for Not Calling: At the end of the episode, Marge automatically concludes Bart was out to steal another game.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Played straight. Jimbo and Nelson goad Bart into shoplifting. He is immediately grabbed by the store detective, banned from the Try N' Save, and later publicly outed and shamed, with Nelson being one of the shamers!
  • Comically Missing the Point: Marge buys Lee Carvallo's Putting Challenge because she thought it was the game Bart wanted.
    • Homer's attempted punishment over Bart's actions includes a three month ban on stealing.
  • Cruel to Be Kind: After catching Bart shoplifting, Marge sadly laments to Homer that maybe it's the result of her smothering him and she needs to give him some space. Unfortunately Bart notices the change in behaviour.
  • The Dreaded: Bart spends the entire episode scared of returning to the Try-N-Save store because of Detective Brodka.
  • Disappointed in You: Both Homer and Marge when they find out about Bart's shoplifting. Homer is outraged, while Marge goes into a Heroic BSoD. Even Lisa says she wouldn't have expected Bart to do such a thing.
  • Easily Forgiven: While Marge is initially upset with Bart's activities, she does actually start acting like her usual self toward him before the reveal of the picture. She even got him a video game she thought he'd love.
  • Epic Fail: After Marge doesn't put marshmallows in Bart's hot cocoa because she thought it would make him feel like more of an adult, she then suggests that he do it himself. His attempt results in the marshmallow absorbing every drop of the liquid to form a sort of gelatin, which Bart gloomily eats with a knife and fork. Of course Grandpa views it differently and even asks if he can have a slice of the marshmallow.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: What leads Bart to feel guilty and try to atone for the shoplifting is seeing how badly it hurt Marge.
  • Exposed to the Elements: Bart has a coat on when he's outside, but his shorts make his legs clearly exposed to the bitter cold.
  • Fictional Video Game: Console games at the Try-N-Save include Angus Podgorny's Caber Toss (spelled Caper Toss), A Streetcar Named Death, Bonestorm (shoplifted by Bart), Canasta Master, Celebrity Autopsy (spelled Tutopsy), Electronic Biathlon, Operation: Rescue, Robot Stampede, Save Hitler's Brain, Sim Reich, and Swim Meet. The Android's Dungeon and Baseball Card Shop has Bonestorm and Lee Carvallo's Putting Challenge available for rent. For Christmas, Bart receives Lee Carvallo's Putting Challenge.
  • Foil: Gavin, the spoiled brat at Try-N-Save, is Bart sans any and all redeeming qualities, with a few he doesn't even display revved up. Arguably, he's Bart if Marge had completely given up on raising Bart at an early age.
  • For Want of a Nail: Bart only managed to get his hands on the Bonestorm video game because the employee didn't close the display case after getting the games out for Gavin's mom.
  • Gotta Have It, Gonna Steal It: Bart is caught trying to steal a copy of Bonestorm from the Try-N-Save.
  • Heroic BSoD: The news of her son's shoplifting leaves Marge quite numbed.
  • High-Pressure Emotion: Parodied. When Bart hears the family will be going to the Try-N-Save for their Christmas photo (the family don't know about his shoplifting yet, and Bart was told he would go to juvenile hall if he was caught in the store again), steam appears to shoot out of his ears. It turns out to come from kettles on the stove behind Bart's head.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • When Milhouse has Bart kicked out of the Van Houten house for "swearing", Bart can be heard saying "dammit, I wasn't swearing" as Luann shoves him out. Doubles as Not Helping Your Case.
    • As Bart is led away after being caught shoplifting:
      Gavin's mother: That boy's parents must've made some big mistakes.
    • Nelson and Jimbo were the ones who encouraged Bart to shoplift in the first place, yet Nelson mocks Bart for doing it later.
  • Inspector Javert: Detective Brodka catches Bart immediately, but doesn't see Jimbo and Nelson shoplifting. And it's probably not the first time.
  • Jerkass:
    • Detective Don Brodka. He has every right to be pissed about Bart's shoplifting, (attempt to) notify his parents, and ban him from the store...but when Bart and his family come back to get their picture taken, Brodka could have at least waited until their picture was done before he chastises the boy again. But he doesn't, and the picture shows a husky arm grabbing Bart.
    • Nelson, for goading Bart to shoplift, and then having the nerve to mock him for it.
    • Gavin, for being a horrible Spoiled Brat.
    • Milhouse of all people is this towards Bart when he finds out that Milhouse got Bonestorm as a Chrismas present: he starts making excuses about why they can't play it together and when Bart isn't falling for them, he yells to his mom that Bart's swearing, getting him kicked out for something he didn't do.
  • Karma Houdini: Nelson and Jimbo don't get busted for stealing, but Bart does and suffers the consequences for it. Nelson even acts like he has room to mock Bart about it.
  • Limited Wardrobe: A Zig-Zagging Trope, Nelson is shown wearing a turtleneck instead of his usual shirt.
  • Literary Allusion Title: A play on a famous sonnet by John Donne, "Death Be Not Proud".
  • Mama Didn't Raise No Criminal: Marge and Homer's initial reaction when Bart is confronted for shoplifting during the family photo. But when the security guard shows her the undeniable proof...
    Homer: He's a thief...
  • Must Make Amends: Bart, after seeing how upset Marge is when she find out about his shoplifting. He makes it up to her by getting her a framed photo of himself (making sure he has the receipt as well to show he paid for it this time).
  • My Beloved Smother: Marge, to Bart. At first, at least.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Bart's reaction when he sees how much his shoplifting has hurt Marge.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Lee Carvello's Putting Challenge is a parody of Lee Trevino's Fighting Golf.
  • Not as You Know Them: Humorously invoked when Bart was struggling with the temptation to shoplift. He imagined a bunch of video game heroes (Mario & Luigi, Donkey Kong, and Sonic) convincing him to go through with it, which is more like something their archenemies (Wario and Bowser/King Koopa for Mario, King K. Rool for Donkey Kong, and Dr. Robotnik for Sonic) would do.
  • Off-Model: Marge is missing part of her left arm when she and Homer are chastising Bart for shoplifting.
  • Oh, Crap!: Bart, when he's told the family will be having their Christmas photo done at Try-N-Save. This is after he was told he would go to juvenile hall if he was caught there again. Uh-oh...
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Homer's reaction to Bart's theft has a rare instance of him being utterly outraged (and not in the normal hammy style Homer usually has, either). Granted, he forgets what he's angry at Bart about when he gets sidetracked.
    • Marge stands out as well. She no longer decides to be the smothering mother she usually is toward Bart after finding out her son attempted shoplifting.
  • Papa Wolf: When Detective Brodka catches Bart at the store via yanking him out of his family photo, Homer immediately comes to Bart's defense with "What are you doing to my son!?"
  • Pun: According to Troy McClure's documentary, the word "shoplifting" came from ancient times when shops were small stands thieves literally lifted to steal from.
  • Running Gag: This episode continues the gag of Homer misunderstanding Mel Brooks's movies.
  • Sarcasm-Blind: Comic Book Guy snarks that when Bart tries to buy Bonestorm from him for 99 cents, it is tantamount to him giving a customer 59 dollars back ("Oh, please take my fifty-nine dollars. I don't want it."). Bart plays to this trope by reaching for CBG's open cash register and CBG lampshades it.
  • Selective Enforcement: Nelson, Jimbo, and Bart all steal the new Bonestorm game, but only Bart gets caught by Detective Brodka and faces severe punishment for his actions. For some reason, he either massively Failed a Spot Check and didn't notice their attempts at shoplifting (despite them being, if anything, more obvious than Bart's) didn't feel the need to also punish Nelson and Jimbo and so he lets them get away with their crimes.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Skewed Priorities: When Marge scolds Bart for saying "Buy me Bonestorm or go to hell", Homer seems more concerned with the fact that his son didn't say "please" than that his son told his mother to go to hell if she wouldn't buy him a video game.
  • Special Guest: Lawrence Tierney as Don Brodka.
  • Spoiled Brat: Bart meets one (named Gavin) when he goes to Try 'n Save to stare at the game. He thinks he's "the happiest kid in the world."
  • Strange-Syntax Speaker: Detective Don Brodka. He calls the Simpson household to report that Bart was arrested for shoplifting. There are "uh-huh"s and "that's right"s in his phone call, suggesting that he's talking to someone on the other end, but after he hangs up:
    Don: They weren't home, uh-huh. But I left a message on their answering machine, that's right.
  • Take That!: As Homer reprimands Bart for stealing:
    "We live in a society of laws! Why do you think I took you to all those Police Academy movies?! For fun?! Well, I didn't hear anyone laughing! Did you?! Well, except for the guy who did sound effects..."
    • Bart hides the tape with Brodka's message in the place no one would look for it: a tape cassette cover for Allan Sherman's "Camp Granada".
  • Unishment: Marge figures out that Homer's proposed punishment for Bart's shoplifting (putting him under not just mere grounding but house arrest, no eggnog, and no stealing for three months) would be this to Bart.


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