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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.

Original air date: 12/17/1995

Production code: 3F07

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.


  • All for Nothing: Bart tries to shoplift a video game, seriously damaging his relationship with Marge, seemingly forever, and then discovers that after the initial rush, Milhouse has already gotten bored with his copy of the game and will loan it to him for nothing. Bart is dejected to realize that: 1) if he'd just waited a little longer, he wouldn't have needed to steal the game at all; and 2) even if he had succeeded in stealing it, he likely would have gotten bored with it just as quickly.
  • 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"—and his parents bought it for him.
  • Artistic License – Law: It goes without saying, private security guards do not have the authority to send someone to jail.
  • Artistic License – Music: Allan Sherman never released an album called Camp Granada. "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh" was on the album My Son, the Nut.
  • Asinine Alternate Activity: Bart wants to rent Bonestorm from The Android's Dungeon, but the only available game is Lee Carvallo's Putting Challenge. At the end of the episode, after their relationship falls apart and is subsequently repaired, Marge reveals that she bought him a certain video game as a surprise gift, that the store clerk assured her was everyone's favorite. Take a good guess what it was.
  • The Atoner: Bart becomes guilt-ridden when Marge becomes heartbroken by his shoplifting and tries to make it up to her.
  • 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.
  • 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!!!"
  • 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.
    • Marge believes that Bart stole from the store again when he walks into the house hiding something from her. It's actually her (legitimately-purchased) Christmas present, and he wanted to surprise her.
  • 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, Marge begins to distance herself from him, much to his dismay.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Bart successfully makes amends with Marge and earns her love back, but doesn't get to play Bonestorm and has to make do with Lee Carvallo's Putting Challenge instead.
  • 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.
    • Detective Brodka tells Bart "If you ever set foot in this store again, you'll be spending Christmas in juvenile hall, capisce? Well, do you understand?" Bart replies "Everything except capisce." Later when the family drives to the same store, Bart sees an image of Detective Brodka in his mind giving a similar warning, but ending with "catfish?"
  • 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!
  • Character Name Limits: Bonestorm only supports eight letters, meaning Milhouse's player name of "Thrillhouse" is instead displayed as "Thrillho". Ironically, his actual name only has eight letters and would have fit perfectly.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • Bart replaces the voicemail left by Don Brodka with a tape of Allan Sherman's "Camp Granada". When Homer hears it, he thinks it's a message from Lisa and asks Marge if she's at Camp Granada.
    • 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 being grounded to the point where he can't leave the house for school and a three month ban on stealing.
  • Couch Gag: The family sits on the couch. Homer notices a plug in the middle of the floor and pulls it, causing everyone and everything to get sucked down the drain.
  • Creator Cameo: The voice of the juvenile hall Santa in Bart's fantasy is provided by showrunner Josh Weinstein, because none of the voice actors could replicate the sound of someone being partially cut off by a low-quality speaker.
  • 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 behavior.
  • Darker and Edgier: There was in fact a Tracey Ullman short in which Bart was caught shoplifting, in which the crime and punishment are Played for Laughs. Here, Bart's act of shoplifting is a much bigger deal (a video game priced around $70, vs. a bunch of candy bars in the Ullman short) with more realistic consequences. The security guard is actually intimidating (compared to the Small Name, Big Ego Bart mocks in the short) and the act ran the risk of heavily damaging Bart's relationship with Marge, who is numbed by the experience compared to her usual comical nagging in the short.
  • Discouraging Concealment: After Bart is caught shoplifting at Try-N-Save, store detective Don Brodka leaves a message on the Simpsons' answering machine telling them what happened, and Bart hurries home before the others get home, switching the answering machine tape with a tape of Allan Sherman's "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh", hiding the actual answering machine tape in its case.
  • 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.
  • The Dreaded: Bart spends the entire episode scared of returning to the Try-N-Save store because of Detective Brodka.
  • 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.
  • Embarrassing Voicemail: Bart races home to make sure his parents don't hear the store manager's message detailing his delinquency.
  • 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.
  • Flash In The Pan Fad: Bonestorm. At first the game is so popular that Bart can't rent a copy anywhere and even Milhouse won't share his copy with him. Barely a week later, after Bart has severely let down his mother by trying to shoplift the game, he visits Milhouse who says Bart can borrow his indefinitely, he's discovered a real thrill in playing with a cup-and-ball set.
  • 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.
  • Hitler Cam: Used on Homer when he's drawing up the barrier to trap Bart when he's trying to flee from Marge, who thinks he's shoplifted again.
    Homer: Heh heh heh, git 'im, ma!
  • 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.
    • Homer explodes at Bart about stealing, even though he constantly steals from his neighbor Ned Flanders.
  • I Need to Go Iron My Dog:
    Brodka: Sir, would you open your coat, please?
    Bart: Uhhhhhh...I don't think this is the kinda coat that opens.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Donkey Kong's rationale for why Bart should steal a copy of Bonestorm.
    DK: Duh, it's the company's fault for making you want it so much.
  • Inspector Javert: Detective Brodka catches Bart immediately, but doesn't see Jimbo and Nelson shoplifting. And it's probably not the first time.
  • It's All About Me: At the end of the episode, Lisa claims she should get her Christmas present early, because Bart is getting his early (and that was only because he got one for Marge to surprise her and to make up for his earlier shoplifting). She's not happy when Marge tells her she'll have to wait for her presents, grumpily muttering, "This is the worst Christmas ever."
  • 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.
  • Jerkass Ball: Milhouse towards Bart when he finds out that Milhouse got Bonestorm as a Christmas 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.
  • Last-Second Photo Failure: The family go to a store to get their Christmas picture taken. Unfortunately, Bart had been banned from the store earlier for attempted shoplifting, and the security guard shows up and grabs Bart just as the picture is taken.
  • 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...
  • Mundane Made Awesome: When playing Bonestorm, Milhouse is happy about how the simple act of entering his name in the file select of the video game character is exhilarating. He puts in "Thrillhouse", but due to space limitations, it only allows in "Thrillho".
  • Must Make Amends: Bart, after seeing how upset Marge is when she finds 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.
  • My New Gift Is Lame: After Bart is forced to reveal Marge's Christmas gift early, a paid portrait from the store, Marge gives him his gift early, what the store clerk told her was the "hottest game of the season." Bart happily thinks she got him Bonestorm, and is immediately disappointed to see Lee Carvallo's Putting Challenge (since Marge knows nothing of video games, the clerk lied just to get rid of the abundant inventory and cover the fact that Bonestorm was sold out), but when he sees Marge's smiling face, he lies that he loves his gift and gives her a thank you hug.
  • Newhart Phonecall: Subverted, Don Brodka calls the Simpsons home and pauses as though he were listening to their response, but in fact he was just leaving a message.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Lee Carvello's Putting Challenge is a parody of Lee Trevino's Fighting Golf.
    • The South American sensation Xoxchitla on Krusty's special is based on the real-life Brazilian presenter Xuxa.
  • 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.
  • Not Helping Your Case: Milhouse yells that Bart is swearing so his mom will throw him out of the house. He wasn't at the time but proceeds to do it all the way out.
    Bart: Hey, what the hell—dammit, I wasn't swearing!
  • Not Listening to Me, Are You?: Marge lists reasons why she won't buy Bart Bonestorm; Bart listens politely, and replies, "those are all good points, but the problem is they don't result in me getting the game."
  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging: Marge defends Bart when he's accused of shoplifting, stating that he "may not be perfect" but she knows him well enough to know he's not a shoplifter. When Brodka whips out the security tape, she tells him to go ahead and play it so that everyone will see he's got the wrong kid.
  • 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...
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Bart is caught shoplifting a video game and Marge is contacted to come pick him up from the store. Instead of Marge punishing Bart or downplaying his behavior, she simply cuts him out of all family activities and ignores him, realizing that her constant smothering of him might have caused him to steal as a way of acting out and wanting to be an adult. Bart takes Marge's silence as a My God, What Have I Done? moment and does his best to make amends. Additionally, Homer is genuinely outraged and yells at Bart for doing this.
  • 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!?"
  • Pet the Dog: Luann, who's constantly kicking Bart out of her house (and who's forbidden Milhouse from playing with him in the past), is touched when in the middle of one of said evictions he timidly asks her if he can hang out with her while she does "mom stuff," and lets him stamp her Christmas cards as she's sealing the envelopes.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Marge, who never believed that Bart would shoplift, realizes that (as he pointed out earlier) she's failed to account for the fact that he's not a little kid anymore, and thinks it will help if she gives him a little space and lets him do things for himself, like add his own marshmallows to his hot chocolate. She also stops the cutesy nightly tuck-in routine he's been complaining about. Bart has no idea why she's changed her behavior and fears that she doesn't love him anymore.
  • 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.
  • Right Behind Me: All Bart had to do after getting out of the store was run for it, but he stood there exulting in his successful theft and got caught almost immediately.
  • Running Gag: This episode continues the gag of Homer misunderstanding movie plots.
  • 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.
  • Schlubby, Scummy Security Guard: Store Detective Don Brodka, whilst completely justified at being furious at Bart for shoplifting, is still presented as a surly humourless jerk.
  • Selective Enforcement: Nelson, Jimbo, and Bart all steal from Try 'N Save, 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.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Homer doesn't appear in the scene where Marge chases Bart around the house in the living room towards the end of the episode.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Bonestorm video game is a reference to Bloodstorm, which competed with Mortal Kombat. The characters in the commercial even resemble Liu Kang and Goro. The former is even referenced by name.
    • Mario, Luigi, Donkey Kong, and Sonic the Hedgehog all appear in Bart's Imagine Spot and convince him to steal a copy of Bonestorm.
      • This gets homaged in LEGO Dimensions when Sonic and Bart interact. "Remember, Bart: If you see a Gold Brick, just take it! Takeittakeittakeittakeit! TAKE IT!"
    • Lee Carvallo's Putting Challenge is a reference to Lee Travino's Fighting Golf (which was just called Fighting Golf in its original Japanese release).
    • Angus Podgorny's Caper [sic] Toss is a reference to the Scottish character of that name in Monty Python's Flying Circus's "Science Fiction Sketch".
  • 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 sees one (named Gavin) when he goes to Try 'n Save to stare at the game, who openly calls his mom stupid and demands she get two because he doesn't want to share his copy with his sister. Bart thinks he's "the happiest kid in the world."
  • The Stinger: The credits show us the gameplay for Lee Carvello’s Putting Challenge.
  • 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.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Bart's ill-fated shoplifting attempt fails for two simple reasons: Security cameras (which naturally would keep an eye on something as expensive as video games) and for the fact that he stops to brag about his victory shortly after he exits the store. He might've gotten away with it had be simply kept going when he left the Try-N-Save.
  • 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".
  • Tempting Fate: Bart immediately before being nabbed by security.
    Bart: I'm outside. I got away with it. I'm free!
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: "Everybody thinks I'm the black sheep. Well, I'll show 'em what a black sheep can do!"—make up for his bad deed, on his own dime.
  • Tranquil Fury: Marge goes through this after Bart tries to steal a video game and gets caught shoplifting. Marge doesn't scream, yell, or even scowl. She just has this Thousand-Yard Stare as she sits quietly in the living room, and the only thing she tells Bart is that he should go to bed.
  • Ultra Super Death Gore Fest Chainsawer 3000: Bonestorm, an obvious parody of Mortal Kombat. The spoiled kid at the store also mentions owning Bloodstorm, Bone Squad and Bloodstorm 2
  • 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. This isn't helped when in the next shot it's revealed Homer was just doodling a robot barbequing hot dogs all along.
  • The Unpronounceable: When introducing her, Krusty completely botches Xoxchitla's name. Judging by her expression, he might be in for it during the commercial break.
  • Verbal Tic: Don Brodka has one, uh-huh. It sounds like he's responding to someone even when he's not, that's right.
  • Where Did We Go Wrong?: Marge asking this question cues the drama of the second half of the episode when she concludes that she's babied Bart to the point of becoming out of touch with the person he's become and resolves to treat him more like an older kid. Unfortunately, Bart interprets her withdrawal of her usual maternal fussiness in the worst way, fearing that his crime has caused her to stop loving him.