First Aired - 2/7/1997
In this Musical Episode and Simpsonsized Mary Poppins parody, a British nanny known as "Shary Bobbins" is hired to shape up the Simpson family after Marge begins losing her hair to stress, only to learn that the lessons she teaches won't stick if she leaves or stays.
This is the second of four episodes produced by Al Jean and Mike Reiss instead of the current showrunner (in this case, Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein). Jean would return as showrunner starting in season 13.
This episode contains examples of:
- Aesop Amnesia: An extreme case—The Simpsons forget everything Shary taught them the moment she leaves the house.
- Anachronism Stew: Referenced when Homer announces he quit the Civil War Recreation Society he's a member of to pay for the nanny.Moe (wearing a Union military uniform): All right, Homer's out. We gotta find a new General Ambrose Burnside.
Barney (wearing an Abe Lincoln costume): I'm not too crazy about our Stonewall Jackson.
Apu (steps out of the bathroom dressed up like an officer in the military of the British Raj): The South shall come again!
- Break the Motivational Speaker: Or "breaking the magical nanny," in this case. It gets bad enough that it drives Bobbins to alcoholism.
- Bound and Gagged: Scratchy is tied to a chair and gagged with duck tape in Reservoir Cats. When he and Itchy dance at the end, Scratchy does not even bother to ungag himself.
- Brick Joke: At the end of the second act, Grampa accidentally flies off in Shary Bobbins' umbrella. Near the end, Grampa is seen having crashed into the front-yard tree with the umbrella in his hand.
- Bus Crash: At the end of the episode, Shary Bobbins is sucked into the turbine of an airplane and shredded to pieces as she's floating away. Worst part is, the Simpsons have turned away and Homer is assuring Lisa that they will see her again some time in the future.
- Call-Back: Krusty's crappy "Mad About Shoe" sketch on "Krusty Komedy Klassics" is similar to the scene on "Brother From the Same Series" when Krusty appeared on "The Big-Eared Family" on Tuesday Night Live (only instead of grumbling on how the sketch goes on for 12 more minutes, he tells the audience that they're not going to like the "NYPD Shoe" sketch, since it's the same thing as "Mad About Shoe").
- Deconstruction: Of the Magical Nanny. The problems of the Simpson family go beyond what one caretaker can hope to achieve in a few days, and ultimately, she leaves once the family explains they don't really care enough to change.
- Downer Ending: Not only the family loses interest in improving and returns to their old bad habits, but Shari ends up being sucked into a turbine.
- Genre Refugee: Bobbins is a Mary Poppins-esque Magical Nanny, with all of the powers and singing and affirming lessons that it implies. In a Lighter and Softer work, with a family willing to accept change, her antics would have worked. But unfortunately for her, she's serving the Simpsons.
- Heel Realization: The family does feel bad when they drive Shary to misery. But they don't really change. They just tell her it's kind of futile to expect them to.
- Lazy Bum: For the sake of the episode, Bart and Lisa become uncharacteristically lazy. So much so that they would rather call Marge while she's at the doctor's office to get them a glass of milk rather than get it themselves. The third act brings it Up to Eleven by having the whole family acting like this and using Bobbins as their manservant.
- Mistaken for Racist, Xtreme Kool Letterz, and Fun with Acronyms: The "Krusty Komedy Klassic" special, which also taught Krusty that it's in very bad taste to have the letters "KKK" in white and onstage with you at the Apollo Theater (which is predominantly black, as seen with the variety series, Showtime at the Apollo).
- Musical Episode
- My Country Tis of Thee That I Sting: When Bobbins teaches the kids how to clean up their rooms, she actually teaches tricks to make it seems clean. A song describes it as "the American way".
- Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught: When Bobbins teaches the kids how to make their rooms seem clean, she says if nobody sees it, nobody gets mad.
- Out-of-Character Moment: The Simpson children in this episode are taken very much out-of-character for the plot when they are made far lazier in this episode than they have been shown before or since (especially Lisa).
- Produce Pelting: Attendees at the Apollo Theater throw objects at Krusty, including a liquor bottle that takes him out.
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: In the end, nothing changes. The Simpsons are as dysfunctional as ever, they don't care enough to improve themselves, and Marge is still going bald from stress. Bobbins has no choice but to leave them to their misery, and ends up getting sucked into the turbine of an airplane on the way out.
- Shary Bobbins claims to be as original as Rickey Rouse and Monald Muck.
- Having watched Mrs. Doubtfire, Homer feared some of the applicants (except for Kearney and Shary Bobbins) were men in drag.
- Willie does a street performance on the park, singing Michael Sembello's "Maniac" and even using the water trap from the movie.
- Skinner trying to sell Jimbo while singing Boy For Sale is a reference to Oliver!, a musical adaptation of Oliver Twist. They even wear the same clothes as Mr. Bumble and Oliver during that scene.
- When Barney said goodbye to Shary, he called her Superman (like what he did with Adam West on season four's "Mr. Plow". He was close with the Adam West example, as Batman and Superman are part of the DC Comics universe).
- The Itchy and Scratchy cartoon of the episode parodies Reservoir Dogs (namely, the scene where Mr. Blonde tortures the cop) and Pulp Fiction (the dancing sequence between John Travolta and Uma Thurman).
- A "screen test" for The Andy Griffith Show is seen by the Simpsons. This screen test has Charles Bronson playing the "Andy Taylor" role. Like one of his better-known roles, he kills all of the never-do-wells in Mayberry, to Barney's horror.
- Snap Back: A rather brutal mid-episode example appears at the end of the second act.
- Something Completely Different: Not only was this a musical episode, but this was one of a few Simpsons episodes to get a G-rating in America note and it originally aired on a Friday (from season six to now, The Simpsons always came on Sundays. Prior to that, it ping-ponged between Thursday nights and Sunday nights).
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Shary decides to leave when she realizes the Simpsons are more or less satisfied with their dysfunction.
- Status Quo Is God: This is the point of "Happy Just The Way We Are".
- Take That!: Krusty says he invited Gerald Ford to his show because he couldn't get any of the cool Presidents.
- Tempting FateShary Bobbins: To think I'll never hear their sweet voices again.(Homer breaks through the window strangling Bart)Homer: Aah! You little!
- Whole Plot Reference: To Mary Poppins.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Homer, having seen Mrs. Doubtfire, accuses several of the applicants of being men in drag and tries to expose them. They're not.
- The first two acts are Shary doing the typical Magical Nanny schtick and thinking she has made a change for the better on the Simpsons family. The third act brings the fact down hard on her head: this is a show where Status Quo Is God, and the "Status Quo" is "dysfunctional family". The Simpsons decide to break it down to her in the same type of cheery-yet-cynically-lyrical song she had been singing throughout the episode ("Happy Just The Way We Are"), if nothing else but because it's the best way they can think of to point it out gently after driving her into alcoholic depression.
- You Wanna Get Sued?: Bobbins has to make some very strong insistences that she is not and in no way affiliated with Mary Poppins.Shary Bobbins: Hello, Im Shary Bobbins.
Homer: Did you say Mary Pop-
Shary Bobbins: No! I definitely did not! Im an original creation like Rickey Rouse and Monald Muck.