“Lisa, you’ll have a fine time at the plant with Dad. You’ve been interested in nuclear power for years.” – Marge Simpson
“I’ve signed numerous petitions to shut down that plant!” – Lisa Simpson
“Well, there you go.” – Marge Simpson
Per Wikipedia, Take Your Daughter to Work Day started in 1993, but:
The program was officially expanded in 2003 to include boys; however, most companies that participated in the program had, since the beginning, allowed both boys and girls to participate, usually renaming it “Take Our Children to Work Day” or an equivalent.
In 1996, The Simpsons invoked it as “Go To Work With Your Parents Day” so that Principal Skinner could squeeze an extra day into spring break and keep his middle seat on his flight to Hong Kong (“Custom made suits at slave labor prices”). That sent Lisa to work with Homer, and Bart, after trying to stay home, to the DMV with Patty and Selma. It was a quick setup to get the episode going and, befitting The Simpsons, showed how high minded, well intentioned ideas could be taken advantage of for selfish reasons.
Today it is 2015, twenty-two years since the concept was hatched and twelve since it officially changed to include both girls and boys. Zombie Simpsons, ever the creative laggard, simply called it “Take Your Daughter to Work Day”, which is both a verbatim use of someone else’s words and inaccurate. In another context, that might be impressive. Here it’s just lazy.
And the problems don’t stop there. At the plant, Lisa does basically nothing. First we see her in the auditorium while Burns exposits a bunch of stuff we don’t see. Then she stands in a hallway and asks Homer a couple of questions about the plant (he doesn’t know the answers). Then they go to the cafeteria where her lunch got ruined. This is everything she says while she’s there:
Dad, what does that do?
Who’s that guy?
Where do those pipes lead?
Is it called the cooling tower because there’s-
How many kilowatts-
How many kinds are there?
Oh, no, my almond milk leaked all over everything. Dad, do you have anything I can eat?
[30 so so seconds of montage]
Wow, Dad, thank you.
Literally her only line that’s longer than a few words is her expositing something we’re seeing as she says it. She doesn’t actually do anything the whole time she’s there.
Get used to this view.
In the interests of fairness to Zombie Simpsons, here is an equally context-free version of Lisa’s entire dialogue from the first time she went to work with Homer in “Bart on the Road”:
No, thanks. Do you have any fruit?
Why are there so many burnt out ones?
Maybe we can make your job more fun. What are those?
Well, what if we used our imaginations.
Houston, we have a problem. Homer 13 is spinning out of control, I’m going after him!
For starters, she’s actually speaking in complete sentences. Better yet, when she does ask questions, it’s not a series of unrelated ones, she asks about actual things we see: Homer’s contention that “purple is a fruit” and his inability to change tiny light bulbs without an assistant. Then we get to see her actually do something, playing with Homer in the radiation suits and pretending a stapler is a radio.
Characters doing things! Neat.
And when you put the context back in, her visit in “Bart on the Road” shines even more. Here are those lines with Homer back in them:
Lisa: No, thanks. Do you have any fruit?
Homer: This has purple stuff inside. Purple is a fruit. Uh, oh, this is a map of nuclear sites around the country. As a safety inspector, I’m responsible for changing most of these light bulbs.
Lisa: Why are there so many burnt out ones?
Homer: Cause they won’t hire an assistant.
Compare that to Homer and Lisa’s first scene in “The Princess Guide”:
Lisa: Dad, what does that do?
Homer: I don’t know.
Lisa: Who’s that guy?
Homer: I don’t know.
Lisa: Where do those pipes lead?
Homer: Not sure.
Lisa: Is it called the cooling tower because there’s-
Homer: Not my department.
Lisa: How many kilowatts-
Homer: Look, sweetie, would you like to go to the cafeteria and get some ice cream?
Lisa: How many kinds are there?
This actually ends with a joke, so by Zombie Simpsons standards it’s pretty decent. But look how much thinner it is than the same scene in The Simpsons. There, Homer and Lisa have a real conversation that also happens to crack wise about how horrible a place Springfield Nuclear Power Plant really is and just how boring Homer’s job is. Zombie Simpsons is one note schtick designed to setup a lone ice cream punchline.
From there, of course, Season 26 Lisa sits around while Homer goes off on the episode’s first montage. (There will be more, oh, yes, there will.) In Season 7, on the other hand, Lisa and Homer start playing astronaut in the radiation suits, which ends with Homer telling us that it’s a lot more fun with a second person. The difference is simple: in one she’s a real character visiting her dad at the plant, in the other she’s a prop.
The mindless (yet inaccurate) repetition of Take Your Daughter to Work Day, the time killing montage, and the hacktacular dialogue never would’ve passed muster in the 1996 writers’ room. In the 2015 one, however, they’re good to go. Maybe they should start bringing their kids to work.