“What the hell was that?” – Krusty the Klown
Give Zombie Simpsons credit, when they embarrass themselves for a pop star, they really embarrass themselves for a pop star. From start to finish, “Lisa Goes Gaga” relentlessly displayed the pitiful imagination and mediocre craftsmanship behind Zombie Simpsons. In an episode where they outright tell the audience, right up front in an opening narration, that they’re discarding the usual rules and that weird and strange things are going to happen, just about the only weird and strange things that they managed to conjure were a lot of Lady Gaga outfits.
Unfortunately for them, dresses made of birds and fire spitting bras will not fill an entire twenty minutes of screen time. They had to fill in the moments when they weren’t expecting us to laugh because Lady Gaga did something weird with empty and pointless scenes like the school awards, Flanders showing up to converse with Gaga and then disappearing, Marge’s weird behavior at the kitchen table (where she apparently lost the ability to let someone touch her and then quickly regained it), the flash mob, and Homer tossing Lisa around like an hourglass for no reason other than it took up a lot of time.
On top of all that, what little plot and story that did manage to exist between the Gaga fluffing and the filler didn’t make any sense and crashed into itself several times. Take, for example, the reaction of the townspeople to Gaga. When she arrives, they’re head over heels in love with her. Then, for no reason we see, they cheer that she’s sad as she’s leaving. Oh, and there were songs, but the less said about those the better.
Somewhere in all that mess, Lisa moped around for a while before she felt better, but we didn’t really know why she felt better until she explicitly exposited it – twice. The first one:
Lisa: Dad, thank you. Like always, the fact that I could tune you out without fearing that I’d miss out on something gave me the time to take stock and realize how ungrateful I have been. Which means, I’ve got a train to catch.
Sure enough, Lisa then catches a train, at which point we get explicit exposition #2:
Gaga: Lisa? Why are you here?
Lisa: To thank you.
Gaga: For what?
Lisa: Look at me! You did help me, by allowing me to inappropriately focus eight years of rage and rejection on you. It was like a great sneeze. And now I can say what’s good about me.
That is appallingly bad writing. It basically boils down to this:
Gaga: Why are you here.
Lisa: Let me tell you.
Gaga: Okay, I’ll ask again.
Lisa: Now I’ll tell you.
Fortunately for Lady Gaga, Zombie Simpsons isn’t relevant enough to damage her pop culture standing, but that was weird, dumb, unfunny, and boring, even by their standards.
Anyway, the numbers are in, and Gaga did them no good. Just 4.79 million people tuned in for that hacktacular exercise in misbegotten pop culture references and inane self help statements. That’s good for #4 on the all time least watched list, and leaves Season 23 with an average viewership of just 6.13 million people, by far the lowest ever. Here’s the last five years of Zombie Simpsons:
Season 19 – 8.26 Million
Season 20 – 7.12 Million
Season 21 – 7.13 Million
Season 22 – 7.10 Million
Season 23 – 6.13 Million
At the time, Season 19 was easily the lowest rated ever, and then Seasons 20-22 were even worse. But Season 23 is a down a whopping 14% just from Season 22. This does set the bar low for Season 24 to avoid being the third consecutive least watched season ever, but tripping over low bars has become something of a specialty for Zombie Simpsons.