It Was Hard to Find 5 Funny Jokes in Last Night’s 'Simpsons’ Episode, ‘Iron Marge,’ But Here They Are
New Simpsons episodes are a lot like pizza – even when it’s bad, it’s still plenty cheesy.
In last night’s “Iron Marge,” the Simpsons writers covered heavily-tread territory as they told the story of Lisa and Bart, guilt-ridden over a thoughtless birthday present to their thankless mother, tracking down Marge’s never-before-mentioned childhood pet, a parrot named Petey. This familiar and sentimental “Marge is underappreciated” A-plot was bolstered by Homer’s obsession with a parody of the neighborhood app Nextdoor, called Alarmist, as he mongered fear across Springfield for online validation.
“Iron Marge” was, unfortunately, a bland entry for the Simpsons’ 756th episode, but I watched it so that you don’t have to and identified the five funniest moments of the night with a high degree of relativity attached to the word “funniest.”
#5: “You Know What They Say, ‘The Lawn Is The Mustache Of The House!’” – Ned Flanders
After bastardizing Ned Flanders' character so badly that cultural commentators coined the term “Flanderization” to describe how hyperbolically lazy writers get with their core characters, the Simpsons storytellers have been letting the happy-go-lucky widower get back to his roots – specifically those below his nose and above his upper lip. When Lisa and Bart question their friendly neighborino over how carefully he manicures his front lawn, he lets this one loose.
#4: “We Need To Warn People! It Could Cause A Sinkhole! Or Activate A Gremlin!” – Homer When He Finds A Faulty Sprinkler In The Park
Homer's hysteria over a leaky lawn waterer later proves to be foreshadowing – not because of a rogue Mogwai, but because he and Agnes Skinner fall into a sinkhole caused by the sprinkler, inspiring the resolution of the conflict between them over their fearmongering competition. The rules for Mogwai ownership have been questioned and criticized ad nauseam – isn't it always after midnight? – but the “don't get them wet” one doesn't get nearly enough attention.
#3: “Oh, That Place Is Sketchy. Milhouse's Dad Was A Sign-Spinner For A Meth Clinic There” – Bart On North Townsburg
“Iron Marge” added a new location to the Simpsons geography, the seedy city of North Townsburg, where Bart and Lisa must travel to track down the last known location of Petey the Parrot. Besides being populated entirely by storefronts for liquor stores, weed dispensaries, tax preparation professionals and one combination of all three, the funniest way to describe this ne'er-do-well neighboring town is to make us imagine Kirk Van Houten borrowing a feeling all over a giant cardboard sign for meth treatment.
#2: “When You Get In A Tight Spot, Sour Gummy Cyanide Capsules!” – Lisa On The Kids' Spy Kit She And Bart Buy Instead Of A Birthday Present
Most of the first act revolves around Lisa and Bart's decision to buy themselves snooping gear instead of getting their mom a proper present, and most of the time spent with the walkie talkie toys and secret recording devices is unremarkable. However, the mentioning of kid-friendly flavored poison is one of the stronger punchlines in the episode, for better or for worse.
#1: “We Did Not Make Friends On The Bus Ride Home. Petey Is Kind Of Racist” – Bart On The Parrot He Didn't Know Was Awful
The reveal at the end of the episode is actually pretty solid – after Lisa and Bart travel three hours to a sketchy city and interrogate all the locals, they find and trap the bird whom they thought was their mother's best friend growing up. As it turns out, owning a protective parrot was a nightmare Marge wanted to forget, and Petey nearly destroys the Simpson family's master bedroom before the family brings the bird back to Townsburg. The implication that, at some point, Petey learned racial slurs does open up the possibility that he picked up his “colorful” vocabulary from the Bouvier household – what else was that flight attendant Clancy hiding?