Best Episode Ever?
we already know what happens! Lisa becomes president, and Bart is her no-good, slacker hang-on. AND it was what is widely regarded as "the worst Simpsons episode ever."
(Then again, that was eleven years ago. Gulp.)
Setting another episode in the future must have been a tall order, but the creators really outdid themselves. I love the wonderfully realized touches, the layers and layers of awesome. Like the way that Bart's life in his rented schoolroom includes grinding his coffee beans in the pencil sharpener and using his old desk as a beer cooler. Or the way that the painting behind the family couch changes from the familiar sailboat to a high-tech yacht, which is later replaced with a picture of a space ship. This is a future where Michigan is "still under Sharia law," Homer reads a kid's book called The Hardy Borgs, and the streets of London are populated by triffids and Daleks.
This season the show's creators have been really larding the show with jokes for "the freeze framers" to enjoy, and this episode is no different. I spent a surprising amount of time clicking pause-play-pause-play to examine each of the Simpsons' Christmas cards at length, and smiling. (As well as spotting the Death of Sideshow Bob.)
After spending a few years in relationships with women, Lisa has settled down with Milhouse (who suffers from terrible seasonal allergies, being allergic to "Holly, mistletoe, and the red part of candy canes"). They have a teenage daughter, Zia, who seems as disaffected and sour as any other teenage girl. The tension between Lisa's relationship with Zia and her relationship with Marge is absolutely perfect. Possibly one of the all-time best of the show's dynamics.
But then they top that by giving Homer one of the truest lines ever spoken on the show: "Everyone thinks their dad's a jerk. And everyone's right! But when you get older, you realize how much you love him."
Meanwhile, Maggie has grown up and become a world-famous rock star, now in the final stages of pregnancy. (And for medical reasons, her doctor has advised her not to speak.) Maggie's pregnancy is the set-up for a seasonal gag that I literally didn't see coming until they dropped it on us.
Frankly, I would have been pretty happy just to watch 22 minutes of the show's characters exploring the Springfield of the Future. Not a single second of the episode is wasted. The Nahasapeemaapetilon octuplets defending the Kwik E Mart - and the octuplets' octuplets! Ralphie Wiggum(s)! District 9 and its upscale neighbor, District 10!
Could this be the corollary to its antecedent - the Best Episode Ever?