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The Simpsons/Lisa the Beauty Queen
Lisa the Beauty Queen is the fourth episode of the fourth season of The Simpsons, and the sixty-third episode overall. Homer tries to support Lisa's self-esteem by entering her into a beauty contest.
Special Guest Voice: Bob Hope (Himself)
Springfield Elementary School is holding its annual carnival where Principal Skinner is fighting off Disney lawyers for his use of "Happiest Place on Earth." Also at the carnival is a runaway ride, Bart's Three Card Monty table, Groundskeeper Willie's haggis booth and finally a caricature booth where the artist draws Lisa looking cartoonishly ugly. They stop the festivities briefly to hold a raffle to wind a ride in the Duff blimp, which Homer manages to win. Although Homer is riding high with his free blimp ride, Lisa is hopelessly depressed over her picture. Homer tries to console her but winds up going to Moe's Tavern where he sees a commercial for the "Little Miss Springfield" pageant. In order to raise the $250 entry fee for Lisa, Homer sells his precious blimp ticket to Barney, who is rich from scientific testing.
Lisa is far less enthused about the competition, however. She runs off and refuses to do the pageant until Marge informs her that Homer sold his blimp ride. At the preliminary meeting for the pageant, Lisa comes face to face with Amber Dempsy for the first time. Amber wins practically every pageant that she enters. To help her out, Marge takes Lisa to a beauty salon to have her hair stylized (or, rather, have the points curled slightly).
On the night of the pageant, Krusty barely makes it on time after the girls (including Amber, Lisa and Pahusacheta Nahasapeemapetilon) introduce themselves. They move on to the talent portion of the show in which Pahusacheta sings "MacArthur Park" and Lisa sings "Proud Mary." The final segment of the show involves Krusty asking the contestants a quick question of no substance before naming the runner-up and winner. As expected, Amber is the winner of the title, but Lisa manages to win runner-up. Lisa tries to put on a brave face, but she's clearly crushed by this turn of events.
Sometime after pageant, Amber appears at the opening of a Danish superstore called "SHØP" at which she turns on the store's "severe tire damage" spikes. But a storm is brewing and she's struck by lightning because of the metal lightning rod. Lisa is sworn in as the new Little Miss Springfield, as Amber is now in intensive care. She has a wax statue made, sees off deported citizens and meets with troops at Fort Springfield (although they were expecting regular Miss Springfield). She also becomes the spokesperson for Laramie Cigarettes on a parade float. She has reservations about being an agent of the cigarette company but does it anyway, until she sees Maggie taking a cigarette from someone's pocket. She stops the float, kicks over the giant cigarette box on the float and declares herself as an advocate for good rather than evil. She goes after the Mayor, but he discovers that Homer wrote "Ok" in the section that said "do not write in this space. Quimby uses this excuse to take her crown away and give it back to Amber. Even though she's no longer the beauty queen, she does have a higher self-esteem thanks to her father.
- Blackboard: "I will not prescribe medication." The final line is cut off at a partially drawn "M."
- Couch Gag: The family accidentally runs off panel, across the film strip onto a white background but quickly corrects their momentum to get back on the strip.
- Georgy Girl by The Seekers: The song that Homer sings about his blimp ride (and later about a pickle) is a parody of "Georgy Girl" by The Seekers. The song was the title theme to the movie Georgy Girl released in 1966.
- MacArthur Park by Richard Harris: During the talent portion of the pageant, Pahusacheta performs the long version of "MacArthur Park" by Richard Harris on the tabla. The song, as Krusty indicated, is painfully long and has been named by some as the worst song ever performed because of its absurd lyrics and tediousness.
- Proud Mary by Creedence Clearwater Revival: After singing a bit of the Star-Spangled Banner, Lisa kicks into a version of "Proud Mary" by Creedence Clearwater Revival. The song was released on their 1969 album Bayou Country and was written by singer and guitarist John Fogerty.
Behind the Scenes
- Real Life Experience: Lona Williams, who was an assistant to Al Jean and Mike Reiss and provided the voice for Amber in this episode, was actually first runner up in a Miss Teen USA pageant out of Minnesota.
Allusions and References
- Jack Nicklaus: Marge briefly fantasizes about Jack Nicklaus when Lisa compares him to Amber Dempsy. Jack Nicklaus is a professional golfer who won 18 major tournaments in his 25 year career. He's widely considered to be the best golfer ever to play the game.
- Marge: I don't know if she's as attractive as Jack Nicklaus.
- Vanessa Williams: In his disclaimer, Krusty mentions that there have been cases where the beauty queen had to give up her crown to the runner-up. He's specifically referencing the case of Vanessa Williams, who was forced to give up her title when nude photographs of her featuring lesbian overtones surfaced and were published in 1984 by Penthouse.
- Lyndon B Johnson: The scene where Lisa is swearing an oath on the Bible is a reference to Lyndon B Johnson's hasty inauguration following John F. Kennedy's assassination. Another sly reference to the assassination is Marge wearing a pink suit and "pillbox" hat much like Jackie Kennedy, JFK's widow.
- Joe Camel: Laramie Cigarettes' mascot Methal Moose is a parody of the Camel Cigarettes mascot Joe Camel. Joe Camel was a polarizing pop culture figure in that he was an example frequently given as tobacco companies attempting to market cigarettes to children. Characters like him are a big reason why cigarette advertisements cannot be shown on television.
- Dan Rather: In the last scene of the episode, Kent Brockman sets up video of his exclusive interview with the Pope, but an entirely unrelated video is shown instead, causing him to storm off stage. This is a reference to a similar incident involving Dan Rather. On September 11, 1982, he abandoned the CBS News set when a tennis match would have forced him to abbreviate their extensive coverage of the Pope's tour of America.