These days I don’t expect much from The Simpsons. So after last week’s disappointment I told myself that as long as the next episode isn’t as bad then I’ll be fine. The last thing the fans need is another repeat of season 29. Thankfully, Lumberjill isn’t terrible; it’s not great either but it’s certainly more watchable than last week.
In Lumberjill, Lisa makes a play for the school talent show which depicts a day in the life of her family. In it she shows Marge as a boring housewife. Marge doesn’t take this well and finds herself in a rut. On their way home from church a tree falls on their car and Homer is tasked with chopping up the wood. He, of course, takes a stab at it but quickly gets tired and sleeps instead. Marge, frustrated, does it herself. Patty and Selma introduce her to Paula, a lesbian competitive lumberjill, who decides to take Marge under her wing as a trainee.
Marge ends up being really good and spends a lot of time with Paula who eventually invites her to move to Portland to train for the doubles tournament. Homer, afraid that he’ll lose Marge, tries to convince her to come home. Marge feels great in Portland and enjoys the competition life so she rebukes Homer for not supporting her. Her and Paula win the tournament and Homer confronts Paula about Marge. Paula reassures Homer that she’s not interested in Marge as she herself is married to a gymnast. Homer apologizes to Marge, the two makeup and head home.
The episode itself was mildly funny (it did have its moments which I’ll get to) but it was interesting to see Marge have an inner conflict and attempt to deal with it. Her life hasn’t turned out the way she had envisioned: early marriage followed by 3 mostly unplanned kids. She’s a housewife who does more than her fair share and is often times under appreciated. She’s also quite industrious/business savvy when she puts her mind to it which makes her story all the more tragic.
I’ve spoken about this last season and my thoughts remain the same. Marge deserves to have a calling outside of being a housewife. She has the skills and knowledge to make almost anything work. That none of her ventures have remained permanent is disappointing.
Lumberjill doesn’t change anything. It’s more of a ‘Marge needs a momentary escape’ which I’m fine with because the episode worked as that. However, in the end it kind of felt inconsequential. Marge will probably never continue lumberjilling and may never see Paula again.
On Paula, the episode could’ve done better. I wouldn’t have minded if Paula developed feelings for Marge and for Marge to have to deal with their relationship. The episode just made it ambiguous until the end reveal which was a shame. On the flip side the writers could’ve also turned this into more of a friendship/mentorship dynamic which I would’ve also been fine with because that also fits the overall story. Alas, neither of these things happened and I’m left wanting more.
There were some funny bits. Marge has a fantasy where she lifts the fallen tree off her car and launches it miles away to a pencil making factory for the children. She then remarks, surprised, that fantasies can be good. The montage of her and Paula training was also funny, especially the bit where they eat the squirrels by the fire.
The Portland bits were also good, poking fun at the hipster town. My favorite was the motto for Portland: If Woody Harrelson was a City. Two smaller gags that were also good were grandpa confusing the pets for the kids and Bart’s corporate propaganda school text books.
All in all I liked the episode more than I disliked it. Marge dealing with her issues was was welcome but the whole episode was inconsequential. I suspect there won’t be any carry over to future episodes and that’s quite a shame.
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