Today I thought I would start a new series on the blog where I profile characters in television and movies that mean a lot to me.
There is nothing in television or movies that has consistently brought me more joy than The Simpsons. Yes, I realize its glory days are behind it but I still enjoy the show. It still makes me laugh and I’ve been watching it since it premiered in 1989. Think about that! The show has been on the air and part of my life for 25 years! Wow! It’s brilliant, funny, satirical, smart, beautiful, creative and full of heart.
The Simpsons has many great characters but my favorite is Lisa.
Lisa is a great character for so many reasons. I love her sincerity. She so wants the world to be a better place and unfailingly believes in other people. A great example is an episode called Lisa and the Old Man where she even believes that Mr Burns can change and become a good person.
Another great Lisa episode is called Make Room for Lisa where she gets a chance to go inside her father’s head and realizes how much he tries to do to make her happy. It’s sincere and funny and just everything I love about the character.
Lisa is really the moral compass of the show and there are many great moments of her standing up for what is right whether it be vegetarianism, environmentalism, feminism or just being honest. I love Lisa gets an A where Lisa gets distracted from her studies with a video game and cheats on a test. Her guilt at her unearned A eats at her and is a wonderful episode.
She is also by no means a perfect character. She is easily influenced by the desire to have friends and be accepted (who can’t relate to that?). Some of her best episodes are when she finally feels accepted like in The Summer of 4 ft 2. This is where the Simpsons go to the Flanders beach house and Lisa decides to put a new image to be accepted by the new kids. To her surprise they love her and Bart gets very jealous eventually exposing the real Lisa to the kids. It’s a great Lisa/Bart episode and one where she is in the end actually accepted.
In an episode from just last season Brick Like Me, she gleefully spends time with her Dad putting together Legos (she’s still a little girl on the show) until some friends come along and she drops him to go see the Hunger Games.
I love The Secret War of Lisa Simpson where Bart get’s sent to military school and Lisa sensing a better education decides to join him. At first marginalized because she is a girl Lisa is forced to overcome sexisim, loneliness and bond with her brother in a new way.
Lisa the Vegetarian is also a winner where Lisa realizes she doesn’t want to kill animals and eat them. At first she wants to bully people into seeing things her way and then she realizes she needs to let others make their own choices.
My Sister, the Sitter is another great one where Lisa tries so hard to be a good babysitter but Bart is insulted to have his younger sister babysitting him so he makes it difficult. If there is anything great about Lisa it’s that she tries so hard at everything.
Probably her most iconic episode is I Love Lisa in which Ralphie Wigham falls in love with her after she gives him a train valentine. Her temper (another great character attribute) gets her into trouble here.
Mostly I relate to Lisa because of her affection for people and the way she sincerely bonds with others, wanting the best for them. It’s a tribute to the show and Yeardley Smith’s great vocals that such a depth of feeling can be developed in such short period of a 22 minute episode. One example is Lisa’s Substitute where she gets a new teacher who inspires her and Homer almost ruins it. The ending is perfect and makes me tear up every time.
There are so many episodes I could list where I love Lisa. She is a wonderful creation and is perhaps taken for granted a little bit by even Simpsons fans who tend to focus on Homer and Bart. Without her the show would have lasted a couple seasons. She is the heart and soul of the show, and I just love her. Tip of the hat to Yeardley Smith for brilliant vocal work creating a character I love so much.
What are your favorite Lisa moments?
And for some reason people are always surprised to hear I love The Simpsons. Yep, this Mormon girl loves The Simpsons!