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Recap / The Simpsons S7 E5 "Lisa the Vegetarian"

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Episode - 3F03
First Aired - 10/15/1995
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Following a day trip to the petting zoo, Lisa begins to realize that the meat she called food was once an animal that was cute and cuddly, so she decides to become a vegetarian, which gets her ridiculed by her friends and family. Meanwhile, Homer sets up his own barbecue after not being invited to one at the Flanders' house (which was strictly a family reunion).


Tropes:

  • Anti-Humor: Homer uses an extreme amount of lighter fluid on the barbeque, lights it up...and proceeds along with cooking the meat like normal.
  • Are We There Yet?: Grampa Simpson asks this while they're on the way to the petting zoo. It's the episode's first line.
  • Artistic License – History: Paul says he and Linda first met Apu "In India, years ago, during the Maharishi days". However, in early 1968, when the Beatles went to Rishikesh, Paul was still dating Jane Asher, before splitting up with her and meeting Linda later that year.
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  • An Aesop: Don't try to force your beliefs on other people. They have as much right to believe what they believe as you do, and their are better ways to influence what someone thinks than badgering them.
  • Assimilation Academy: Lisa twice sets off the school's "Independent Thought Alarm" for her talk about vegetarianism.
    Skinner: Uh-oh. Two independent thought alarms in one day. The students are overstimulated. Willie, remove all the colored chalk from the classrooms!
    Willie: I warned ya! Didn't I warn ya? That colored chalk was forged by Lucifer himself!
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • Paul McCartney asked Lisa if she'd like to hear a song. She accepted and Paul... asks Apu to play.
    • Also the Anti-Humor example above.
    • "Don't eat beef...eat deer."
  • Blatant Lies: When Lisa objects to dissecting a worm in class, she tells Ms. Hoover this, who replies, while staring blankly, "that's okay, Lisa. I respect your moral objection." Meanwhile, she presses the Independent Thought Alarm under her desk.
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  • Brick Joke: Paul mentions that when "Maybe I'm Amazed" is played backwards, it contains a recipe for lentil soup. Sure enough, when the song plays over the credits, listeners will hear the recipe.
  • Broken Aesop: Paul and Linda telling Lisa that just because she's a vegetarian doesn't mean that she should force her beliefs on others is completely undermined by the fact that they only agreed to appear in the episode if the producers promised them that Lisa's turn to vegetarianism was permanent. Apu tells her the same thing, as well as how he's been secretly selling people tofu dogs instead of the hot dogs they actually paid for, showing that he doesn't actually practice what he preaches as he is essentially forcing his beliefs on his customers
  • Broken Record: "You don't win friends with salad, you don't win friends with salad..."
  • Brutal Honesty: Apu's aghast reaction to Lisa saying she eats cheese:
    Lisa: You... don't eat cheese, Apu?
    Apu: No I don't eat any food that comes from an animal.
    Lisa: So you must think I'm a monster!
    Apu: Yes indeed, I DO think that!
  • Continuity Nod: When Lisa is being mocked by her peers for her vegetarianism, Ralph Wiggum angrily comments that he can't believe he used to go out with her.
  • Cue the Flying Pigs:
    Mr. Burns: You know, Smithers, I think I'll donate a million dollars to the local orphanage...when pigs fly!
    [They laugh, until the pig sails across the sky before them, at which point the laugh awkwardly peters out.]
    Smithers: Will you be donating that million dollars now, Sir?
    Burns: Nooo, I'd still prefer not.
  • Do Wrong, Right: Don't eat beef. Eat deer.
  • Drive-In Theater: Apu can watch drive-in movies from the roof of the Kwik-E-Mart.
  • False Reassurance: Troy McClure's film "Meat and You - Partners in Freedom"
    Troy: Come on, Jimmy! Let's take a peek at the killing floor.
    Jimmy: (gasp)
    Troy: Don't let the name throw you, Jimmy. It's not really a floor, it's more of a steel grating that allows material to sluice through so it can be collected and exported.
  • Free the Frogs: Lisa refuses to dissect a worm in biology class.
  • Go to Your Room!: Parodied. Homer says this twice to Lisa, once when she decides to go to her room, the second time after Lisa runs away. Homer also says it to Bart once.
  • Herbivores Are Friendly: Doubly subverted in the school video starring Troy McClure,note  where he convinces Bobbynote  that it’s okay to eat meat. Troy warns Jimmy that “if a cow had the chance he’d eat you and everyone you care about,” as ominous music plays and the camera zooms in on a cow’s face. However, the cow’s face is so placid, that the idea of a threatening cow seems ridiculous.
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Apu's rendition of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", although Paul and Linda don't mind.
  • Hypocrite: As mentioned above, Apu tells Lisa not to force her beliefs onto others, yet he essentially forces his Hinduism by secretly giving his costumers tofu dogs instead of the actual hot dogs that they paid for.
  • Hypocritical Humor: After Homer brings out the roast pig at his barbecue, Chief Wiggum giggles "Haha look at his nose!" For good measure, he leans in close as he says it, giving the viewers a side-by-side view of their respective noses.
  • Jerkass Realization: Lisa, after some words with Apu and the McCartneys, realizes she was being a jerk and apologizes to Homer.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: The Trope Namer. Both Lisa and Homer realize something about vegetarians and carnivores.
  • Little Jimmy: Lisa begins to have doubts about eating meat, so her school shows her class a propaganda video from the meat industry titled "Meat and You: Partners in Freedom". It features our good friend Jimmy as he is "educated" (and traumatized) about the wonders of the meat industry.
  • Loophole Abuse: When asked if she was required to offer a meatless meal option, Lunchlady Doris offers a hot dog bun.
    Lisa: (deadpan) Do you remember when you lost your passion for this line of work?
  • Never My Fault: Lisa uses a riding mower to destroy a barbecue organized by her father. She admits her fault, but not completely. Of course, Homer was a bit of a Jerkass to her, but this doesn't justify Lisa's behavior.
    Homer: Ohhhh. Lisa. I was looking for you. I wanted to apologize. I don't know exactly what went wrong, but it's always my fault.
    Lisa: Actually Dad, this time, I was wrong...
    Homer: Oooh!
    Lisa: ...too.
    Homer: Ohh.
  • Not Me This Time: When Lisa steals the pig roast, Marge lets out a Big "NO!" at Bart, who points out he didn't do anything. Marge tells him it's a force of habit before correctly letting out a Big "NO!" at Lisa.
  • Not So Above It All: The episode revolves around Lisa causing a fuss over eating meat and creating a bitter conflict. Marge even has to correct herself when she blames Bart out of instinct.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Lisa was already mad at Homer for serving meat, but she snaps when Homer accidentally flips a burger into her face.
    Lisa: It's bad enough they're all eating meat. They don't have to rub it in my face. (burger lands on her face)
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The decision to make Lisa a vegetarian was made to satisfy producer David Mirkin, who threatened to leave otherwise, as Lisa eating meat didn't coincide with his personal philosophy.
  • Reality Ensues: Homer attempts to feed a goat a tin can, which the goat has no interest in.
  • Sarcasm-Blind: When Janie asks Lisa if she is going to marry a carrot, Lisa sarcastically says yes. Sherri and Terri thinks that is a confession. Of course, being Sherri and Terri, they probably use even sarcasm as an excuse to torment others.
    • There's also this exchange in the beginning of the episode.
    Marge: This is where the wolf blows down the pigs' house.
    Bart: He blows alright. He blows big time.
    Marge: That's it, honey! Get into the spirit.
  • Shout-Out: Quite a few to The Beatles once the McCartneys show up. For instance, Linda tells Lisa "Whenever we're in Springfield, we like to hang out in Apu's garden in the shade.", referencing the song "Octopus' Garden". Paul had first met Apu while the Beatles were in India with the Maharishi in 1968, leading Apu to say "Back then, I was the fifth Beatle", pronouncing "Beatle" as "Be-At-Tull", just like the Eastern cult members from Help!.
    • "Maybe I'm Amazed" from McCartney is played over the closing credits, with Apu reading a lentil soup recipe backwards and Paul saying: "Oh, by the way, I'm alive.", referencing the "Paul is dead" theory.
  • Soap Box Sadie: Lisa quickly becomes disgusted with everyone else's carnivorous diet after becoming attached to a cutesy baby petting zoo lamb at a storybook village park, culminating in her ruining Homer's big barbecue because the guests did not want to eat the vegetarian food she prepared. Granted that Homer was a bit of a Jerkass to her while rousing the family in a catchy conga line tune: "You don't win friends with salad". It also doesn't help to call your 8-year old daughter a "know-nothing know-it-all" but that doesn't justify her dangerously irresponsible behavior. The point of that episode was Lisa learning that she shouldn't force other people to become vegetarians and Homer learning to respect his children's choices, and they do apologize to each other at the end.
  • Special Guest: Paul McCartney and his then-wife Linda, who only agreed to appear if they were assured that the character change was a permanent one. Sure enough, Lisa has remained a vegetarian since.
  • Start My Own: Homer holds his own barbecue because he wasn't invited to Flanders'. Flanders asks if he could go and Homer, out of instinct, answers "Yes" right before realizing he's destroyed the whole reason he decided to hold a barbecue in the first place.
  • Status Quo Is God: Averted: Lisa stays a vegetarian throughout the show.
  • Subliminal Seduction: Paul claims that if his song "Maybe I'm Amazed" is played backwards, it reveals a recipe for a "really ripping" lentil soup. Indeed, as "Maybe I'm Amazed" plays over the credits, you can hear Paul speaking backwards.
  • Take That!: There's a secret passageway at the Kwik-E-Mart hidden by what looks like a cooler door labeled "non-alcoholic beer". When Lisa asks him what he does when someone orders a non-alcoholic beer, he shows no concern over the possibility of it ever happening.
    Apu: You know, it's never come up.
  • Tell Him I'm Not Speaking to Him: After Lisa ruins the barbecue, Homer and Lisa talk like this, but Homer soon gets confused about who he is/isn't talking to.
    Homer: Marge? Since I'm not talking to Lisa, would you please ask her to pass me the syrup?
    Marge: Dear, please pass your father the syrup, Lisa.
    Lisa: Bart, tell Dad I will only pass the syrup if it won't be used on any meat product.
    Bart: You dunkin' your sausages in that syrup, homeboy?
    Homer: Marge, tell Bart I just want to drink a nice glass of syrup like I do every morning.
    Marge: Tell him yourself, you're ignoring Lisa, not Bart.
    Homer: Bart, thank your mother for pointing that out.
    Marge: Homer, you're not not-talking to me, and secondly, I heard what you said.
    Homer: Lisa, tell your mother to get off my case!
    Bart: Uhhh, Dad. Lisa's the one you're not talking to.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • Marge tries to reassure Lisa and Grampa the place they're going will be fun for all ages from eight to whatever Grampa's age is. When they arrive, there's a sign stating the place to be for ages from one to seven and a half. Later, when Lisa comments that the people at the barbecue don't need to rub it in her face, a burger falls on her face.
    • And Mr. Burns stating he'll donate $1,000,000 to the orphanage when pigs fly (See Cue the Flying Pigs above). He doesn't make good on his word, though.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: All the men in Ned Flanders' family reunion look like Ned (including a Mexican Nednote  and a stuffy British Nednote ). Meanwhile, all the women look like Maude.
  • Vegetarian for a Day: Subverted. Despite her young age and her parents trying to stop her, Lisa stays vegetarian and has consistently been depicted as such since. The reason why Lisa remains a vegetarian after that episode is because Paul McCartney makes a special guest appearance in that episode, and the only way to get him to do so was to keep Lisa a vegetarian.
  • Visual Pun: The above-mentioned Rage Breaking Point.
  • Waxing Lyrical: Paul McCartney hears Lisa say that ran away from home he says: "What, she's leaving home?", referring to The Beatles song "She's Leaving Home", and his then-wife Linda says "Whenever we're in Springfield, we like to hang out in Apu's garden in the shade", paraphrasing "Octopus's Garden".
  • Writer on Board: In an example of Guest Star on Board, Paul and Linda McCartney only agreed to appear in the episode on the condition that Lisa remain a vegetarian for the rest of the series. On the other hand, Paul and Linda end the episode by telling Lisa that even if she doesn't approve of other people eating meat, it isn't okay to force them to change or shove her own vegetarian choices down their throats, so there's that.
  • Wrong Name Outburst: Marge, when it's Lisa who is doing something bad for a change.
    Marge: Bart, nooooo!
    Bart: What?
    Marge: Sorry, force of habit. Lisa, nooooo!
  • You Must Be This Tall to Ride: This short, in this case.

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