First Aired - 11/24/1996
While Lisa and Marge spend the day cleaning rocks after Captain MacCallister runs his ship aground a la the Exxon Valdez incident in 1989, Bart gets in trouble for breaking the gargoyle of an old house, and the owner wants Bart to work for her to pay for it — by making him her right-hand man for her burlesque house.
- Aesop Amnesia: Homer drooling over Princess Kashmir (the stripper/belly dancer from "Homer's Night Out") in front of Bart, seasons after Homer learned his lesson on not objectifying women, especially since it was that episode where he learnt the lesson and his interaction with Princess Kashmir was the first in a series of events that led to the lesson.
- All Men Are Perverts: It might be easier to list who hasn't been going to the Maison Derrière."Oh, I'm afraid this problem goes far beyond Eugene and Rusty."
- During the vote to close the place:Jasper: Are they talkin' about the bordello?
Abe: No, the burlesque house! Now keep yer mouth shut!
- During the vote to close the place:
- Ambiguous Syntax: During a town meeting, Marge announces that she's sharing her moral outrage over "a certain house in our town". The others assume the problem is with the house itself, not what's happening in it.Moe: Yeah, well, what's wrong with this house? Is it the plumbing?
Marge: No, it's a house of ill fame... a house of loose ethics.
Kent Brockman: Is there a building code violation? A drainage issue? A surveying error?
Marge: The house is perfectly fine!
Chief Wiggum: Well, then quit bad-mouthing the house!
Otto: Yeah, leave the house alone!
- Arrows on Fire: Moleman's weapon of choice.
- Blatant Lies: Principal Skinner's attempts to claim he's not a customer at Maison Derrière. When he enters the place and asks Bart about a specific girl, he eventually realizes who he's talking to and tries to convince Bart that he expected to find a museum there. Later, when the Lovejoys and Flanderses tell Homer about Bart working at a burlesque house and that they learned it from Skinner, he shows up to claim that he only entered there to ask for directions to get out of there.
- Broken Glass Penalty: Or more specifically, Broken Gargoyle Penalty. Bart accidentally destroys one of Belle's gargoyles and is ordered to work for her to pay for the damages.
- Bouncer: Bart acts in this fashion; escorting Homer off the premises after he drunkenly demands Marge "take it off!" during her ventriloquist act.
- Bittersweet Ending: Maison Derrière is ultimately saved, but, unfortunately, Marge lets her bulldozer on, which promptly marches towards the house and destroys a good chunk of it, forcing her to work as a ventriloquist to pay the damage she caused.
- Brick Joke: When the townsfolk are tearing down the house, Moleman is seen with a flaming arrow and begs them to "please hurry..." When Marge comes in with the bulldozer and demands she be allowed to sing a Crowd Song of her own, said flaming arrow is seen embedding itself in the tree.
- The Cameo: Princess Kashmir appears, doing a Fan Dance.
- Chirping Crickets: At the assembly hall during the slide show revealing who was visiting the burlesque house. Dr. Hibbert, Chief Wiggum (twice), Principal Skinner, Cletus, Mayor Quimby, Patty (!?), Smithers (?!?!) all get called out on when their images come up. When Barney's image comes up, no one reacts, until Moe slowly reacts out of forced necessity.
- Clueless Aesop: Subverted. When Marge finds out Bart was forced to work as a door man at a burlesque club as Homer's way of punishing him for damaging its property, she joins with the local Moral Guardians and works the town into a fury over the club's presence. However, it's clear that Marge is overreacting, and the club's owner an elegant older woman actually confronts her; Belle argues that she's been in Springfield for over fifty years and that she and her dancers have every right to be there. If anything makes this episode wander into "Clueless Aesop" territory, it's the heavy implication that the club is actually a brothel, in which case Marge's anger would be much more justified.
- Comically Missing the Point: When the news reports a terrible oil spill in Alaska, Lisa is clearly horrified at the environmental devastation, but Homer thinks her concerns lie elsewhere:Homer: Don't worry honey, there's lots more oil where that came from.
- Delayed Reaction: When Belle drags Bart back to the door, she immediately sets about informing Homer about what happened. It takes her a few seconds to realize Homer's answered the door in a grocery bag.Homer: I have misplaced my pants.
- Digging Yourself Deeper: Marge's facts to make Belle reconsider getting rid of the burlesque house prove to be ineffective every time. At the end, she just demands Belle to go away.
- Distracted by the Sexy: Homer attempts to chastise Belle for allowing Bart to work at her establishment, but has difficulty doing so while watching Princess Kashmir.
- Early-Bird Cameo: One of the dancers looks like Cookie Kwan, who later would became a recurring character.
- Everything Has Rhythm: The musical number 'We Keep The Spring in Springfield' includes such effects as Moe banging bin lids together, Belle 'boing'ing Bumblebee Man's antenna and Willie smacking Lenny in the head (accidentally) with a sledgehammer.
- Feeling Oppressed by Their Existence: The moment Marge discovers the existence of Maison Derriere, she goes on the warpath, even strong-arming the rest of the town to take it down. Bear in mind, Bart is working there and she never says a single word that she's mad about that.
- Get Out!: When Marge and Belle finally get to talk, every attempt by Marge to be the one with the moral high point is undermined by Belle's sensible answers. Marge ends the conversation by yelling "get out of my town!"
- Harmful to Minors: Downplayed. While Belle admits she wouldn't have let Bart work at the Maison Derrière if Homer hadn't been so insistent, nothing there is overly sexualized. Of course, the town's moral guardians insist it's far worse than it actually is.
- Hypocrite: When Mayor Quimby declares his support of the Maison Derriere's service, his wife scolds him for it, only for him to point out she was working there at the time.
- Hypocritical Humor:
- Homer also tells Bart that working to repay the damage he caused is "responsibility". He then immediately drives into a lamppost, then flees.
- After being informed of what Bart did to Belle's house and not wanting Marge to find out, Homer knows he has to punish him. When he asks how Marge usually punishes him, Bart says she makes him taste beer.Homer: Come on, boy. Give your old man a little credit.
[The grocery bag he was using as pants suddenly breaks and the food falls out]
Homer: Yeah, well, I still get to punish you.
- Jerkass Ball: Marge is at her worst pre-Flanderization here, acting more like Helen Lovejoy by forcing her views on the town of Springfield because she has a problem with the house existing, rather than her underage son working there (which would have caused Belle to get arrested and the entire place to get shut down, if the show followed reality).
- Lampshade Hanging: After Marge hears about the song, she asks if they can see it again, only for everyone to get sheepish, explaining it as a "spur of the moment" decision.
- Mama Bear: Averted. Marge never says a word edgewise regarding the fact that her son was working at Maison Derriere, implying that the reason for her vendetta with the burlesque house (and Belle) is more important than this fact.
- Moral Guardians: Marge, because she thinks that Springfield does not want a burlesque house, despite everyone else's views. It's not "Springfield doesn't want a burlesque house", it's "Marge Simpson doesn't want a burlesque house, and is forcing everyone to follow her view".
- Never Trust a Trailer: A lot of TV and radio promos for this episode played up the sex angle of this episode. Commercials that aired during prime-time claimed that Springfield would be rocked by a sex scandal, and showed Marge's incriminating pictures of people leaving the Maison Derriere (which was correct, only it didn't go that far)note , while a radio station had Homer saying, "I have misplaced my pants," which, out of context, paints a rather risque mental picture of Homer, when really that line was used in the scene of Belle taking Bart back home and Belle finding that Homer is using a grocery bag as a substitute for underwear.
- Nice Girl: Belle. Despite Marge's trying to force her out of town and then accidentally demolishing part of the house, Belle is nothing but polite and friendly the whole time and tries to be understanding towards Homer when he's upset that Bart's working so late and then comps him for the night.
- Noodle Incident: During the "We Put the Spring in Springfield" musical number, Grampa and Jasper sing that the burlesque house has given them the most fun "since March of 1961".
- Oh, Crap!:
- Bart, when Belle declares the only person who can fill in for their comedian is someone who fits his suit. Which just happens to be Bart's size (though Bart does enjoy the job once he's doing it).
- Homer when he openly admits to a crowd about letting his son work in a burlesque house with Marge in earshot.Homer: If Homer Simpson wants his ten-year-old son to work in a burlesque house, then Homer Simpson's ten-year-old son is going to work in a burlesque house. That—(sees Marge; laughs nervously) Hi, Marge. Now you're going to hear a lot of crazy talk about Bart working in a burlesque house.
- Parental Neglect: While Marge was gone, Homer spent a good chunk of time being unaware of where Bart even was.Announcer: It's 11 o'clock. Do you know where your children are?
Homer: I told you last night no!
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!:
- Grandpa's infamous reaction◊ to Bart's presence in the Maison. Subverted in that he comes right back to ask if he's Bart and then to go enjoy the show when told Homer knows the boy is working there.
- After a few days scrubbing off rocks, Lisa declares it's unsatisfying. Marge agrees, but they made a commitment, and should see it through. Then the organiser shows up to say they'll be watching Johnny Arvik, the "Eskimo comedian". The next scene is Marge and Lisa fleeing as fast as they can.
- Sgt. Pepper's Shout-Out: The Couch Gag is a parody of the album cover.◊ An alternate version is used as the cover of their music album, "The Yellow Album"◊ (the name, of course, a takeoff of another Beatles album). And like Sgt Pepper, the early Simpsons are in suits and the current ones in fatigues.
- Shaming the Mob: Homer does this, with a lavish musical number.
- Belle could possibly be named after Belle Watling, the owner of the burlesque house in Gone with the Wind.
- The musical number instigated by Homer (accompanied by Belle and her backup dancers) convincing the town not to destroy the house is a parody of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. However, unlike the episode, the "chicken ranch" is forced out of business.
- Mayor Quimby and the Quimby family, throughout Simpsons history, have been made to resemble JFK and the Kennedy family. In this particular episode, Mayor Quimby's wife is seen wearing a dress similar to one of Jackie Kennedy's dresses.
- In her effort to reconvince the town that the burlesque house is bad, Marge begins singing an off-key parody of "My Favorite Things" - although the bulldozer cuts her off before she can sing the title phrase.
- Spontaneous Choreography: With those who are gathered to tear down the burlesque house and people sing "We Put the Spring in Springfield" ... except Marge who was out renting the bulldozer. She asks if they can sing it again but Ned Flanders tells her it really was one of those spur-of-the-moment type things.
- Stylistic Suck: Marge's attempt at a counter-song after the "We Put the Spring in Springfield" sequence.Marge: (singing off key) Morals and ethics and carnal forbearance...
- Also, Marge's ventriloquist act.
- Tactful Translation: Belle tells Bart that the Maison Derrière's name means "Back House", rather than the actual translation.
- Torches and Pitchforks: and Sledge hammers, oh my! Seen when the town is forced by Marge to tear down the house; they also discuss what they plan to smash and/or loot.
- Trash of the Titans: The floor is so coated in garbage that Homer and Bart make garbage angels.
- Unishment: To give Homer some credit, he didn't know the house Bart vandalized was really a burlesque house. Of course, he doesn't mind Bart still working there after he finds out.
- Waxing Lyrical: When the Springfieldians decide to keep their beloved burlesque house, the Maison Derriere, Reverend Lovejoy paraphrases the Crosby, Stills & Nash song, "Our House":This house is a very, very, very fine house.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Lisa and Maggie are the only characters that are missing when Marge arrives at the front door after cleaning rocks. They are also not in the family car in the background and are entirely absent for the second half of the episode.
- It could be possible that they were dropped off at Aunt Patty and Selma's place and remained there for the rest of the episode.
- Work Off the Debt: Bart breaking the gargoyle kicks off the A-plot. At the end, Marge replaces the club's warm-up comedian after demolishing half the building.
- You Put the "X" in "XY": "We put the 'Spring' in 'Springfield'."