Welcome to a review of a non-MLP episode. Now I must warn you, this isn't going to be a positive review, but I am going to do my best to keep a positive attitude about this. This is an experimental blog series called "Seasonal rot" where I take a look at a show that's gotten accusations for being less than stellar in it's recent years, or just isn't funny/interesting anymore. Today's subject is The Simpsons. Now I know everyone and their mother has talked about how The Simpsons aren't as good as they used to be back in the early 90s. But today we'll be talking about an oft-forgotten episode when discussing the newer episodes. And no, it's not Lisa Goes Gaga, because everyone's already reviewed that and I can't say anything more that hasn't already been said. However, this episode is... interesting. While I wouldn't call it the worst episode (it got a few laughs out of me and that's more than a lot of the newer episodes do) it is on paper, the most offensive episode. To whom you might ask? Both genders! Let's tackle this one by one.
The episode starts off with Homer taking the family to see an Itchy and Scratchy musical. This is an interesting idea, and all seems to go well until the director is mocked by Principal Skinner for being a woman and thus "inferior" at Math, Science, the "real subjects". Not only does this set up for a world of criticizing both genders but it also paints someone who lives with his mother as a sexist, which isn't something you want to do in any animated comedy, since it makes it seem like Skinner's been holding in his pent up rage towards his cruel mother and releasing it at an unrelated third party.
I don't claim to be an expert on genders, but what I do know is that most women or girls I've talked to are very capable of doing Math and Science, and while there are a few girls who don't do well in Math, it's not any more or less than boys. Look at Twilight Sparkle for example, she's a genius when it comes to Mathematics, and Science.
So anyway, after that, a meeting is held in the Springfield Elementary School about Skinner's sexist remarks. The women call out Skinner on his sexist remarks, and he reveals he's been wearing a dress. After getting pummeled with armor piercing questions about "Are girls and guys the same/different/etc", Superintendent Chalmers reveals that he has decided to replace Seymour Skinner with a feminist principal who believes girls and boys should be separate. At first this seems to go well for Lisa, as she finds the girl's school to have plenty of female reassurance, but when it comes to Math, the teacher turns on a disco lamp with numbers and symbol and Lisa realizes they aren't really "learning" anything aside from self esteem. Granted self esteem is a very good thing to teach, but why in Math Class where you're supposed to be learning about addition, subtraction, multiplication, integers, fractions, geometry, trigonometry, and all those other mathematic topics? Anyway, Lisa leaves the class while the girls and the female teacher do a "self esteem conga line" I know there's a joke in here somewhere but I'm just not seeing it.
As she goes onto the playground, we see the girl's school is similar to what the female town was like in that one Fairly Odd Parents episode about Valentines Day, it's a utopia with clean fields of green, statues of ponies, and so on. Lisa says she needs a challenge and climbs the small castle in the girl's half of the school to jump over the hedge to the dystopian boys half. No really, this place looks like it was completely destroyed by a hurricane. That's the other thing I hate about this episode, it tries to portray the boys as savages who don't have feelings. Anyway, after Lisa lands in the boys' half of the school, she sees a window that has a Math class for the boys teaching some pretty advanced geometry for fourth grade including radius and circumference of a circle. (I don't remember learning that until at least sixth grade) Former Principal Skinner catches her, now Assistant Groundskeeper Skinner, and we are treated to a joke (at least I think it's a joke) about squirrels trying to poison Skinner. I don't even really understand that joke, it wasn't funny to me, but the scene before it (the scene with the wolf-like dog appearing after Lisa says she needs a challenge and then disappearing when she said "a mental challenge") felt more like a joke than that.
Anyway, Lisa heads home and tells her mother that the girl's school is just self esteem classes, and the boys are the only ones actually learning anything. Then Marge talks about how she was dating Homer and he stopped her from studying for her calculus finals. So is this episode trying to teach people that love always wins over Math, even if you need it to get into college? We get a few more jokes, and then Marge decides to dress Lisa up in a masculine wig, a sports tee shirt, and glasses, as a boy named Jake Boymin. Heh... that's actually kind of funny. The next day, "Jake" is introduced to the class and answers "his" best when asked about what y is when "25=5 x Y", Martin Prince answers with Y can be 5 or -5 and she learns. On the playground, Jake introduces herself (you know what, I'm just going to call Jake a her since she is technically still female) to Milhouse and Bart. Milhouse notices the toilet paper stuck to Jake's shoes and thus Jake is given the nickname "Toilet". There's an idea for a joke here, but I'm not seeing it.
Jake proceeds to get marks at the top of her class, and in the cafeteria, she accidentally causes Nelson Muntz to drop his food onto his shirt. The boys naturally want them to fight. Jake tries to talk her way out of it, but she is beaten up by Nelson. At home, Bart laughs about how Jake got beat up and finds out that Lisa is in fact, Jake or "Toilet". Lisa pours her heart out to Bart and Bart decides he'll teach her how to be a boy. One reoccurring theme that's hammered in throughout this episode is the fact that boys are soulless slobs who eat food off the floor, beat each other up, and don't have feelings. And of course, Lisa gives up all her principles as a girl to be a boy so she can take the boys' more challenging math. We get a montage of Lisa acting boyish to a song that was popular at the time "I know what boys want" I don't recall who sings this song, but it's kind of annoying and unnecessary and more evidence that the Simpsons like to use dated pop culture references and music to stay hip. (They made an episode about the Internet some 4 years after it was mainstream). She is then told to beat up a boy who is weaker (and from what we've seen of the boys' school, the boys are divided into bullies and unpopular kids/geeks). Lisa chooses to beat up Ralph Wiggum which does lead to a kinda funny joke later on, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Later, when the awards for outstanding achievements are given, Lisa drops the disguise and reveals that she was a girl all along. After being told by Bart that she wouldn't have gotten those marks in math without his help, she throws her trophy at Bart which he ducks and it hits Ralph who says "I got hit by both girl Lisa and boy Lisa." which I have to admit is probably the funniest joke in the episode.
Lisa goes on a rant on how girls can be just as equal as boys, and joins in the chair fight with the boys.
So in summary, this episode teaches us not that men and women are equal, but that they are two completely different extremes. Women are perfect in every other way, but don't want to learn anything while men are "smarter" and crass. What a horrible message to teach people. Definitely the worst episode of Season 17, and more reason why The Simpsons is becoming like Family Guy.