Compare & Contrast: Lisa Goes to SNPP

Bart on the Road12

“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.[5]

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.

Bart on the Road13

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:

Homer: Donut?
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?
Homer: Twelve.

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.

20 Responses to “Compare & Contrast: Lisa Goes to SNPP”

  1. 1 Victor Dang
    6 March 2015 at 12:25 pm

    Ahh, the sweet smell of sterility in that Zombie Simpsons shot… I wonder what kind of animation studio/software they’re using now? It’s just so disturbing how all the lines are clean, even for last-decade ZS it’s jarring. Lisa just looks like a prop in that shot, in the Astronaut shot above she actually looks like a character (and a lot cuter to boot!).

    BTW, perhaps I’m missing something, but did you miss the QotD for today (03/06)?

  2. 2 Stan
    6 March 2015 at 12:29 pm

    I’ve always wondered how come SNPP has two radiation suits, with one seemingly designed for Lisa’s size?

    • 3 torbiecat
      6 March 2015 at 1:09 pm

      Adil wore a child-sized radiation suit in “The Crepes of Wrath” as well. I’d make some crack about how the suits are there for the purposes of child slave labor in the plant, but I imagine that Mr. Burns wouldn’t give a damn about their health whatsoever. Though, I suppose you could argue that he wouldn’t want to have deal with a constant barrage of inexperienced child workers due death causing a high turnover.

    • 4 torbiecat
      6 March 2015 at 1:15 pm

      Though, I almost wonder if the child-sized suit along side Homer’s radiation suit is some sort of obtuse commentary on how a even a child would be a better worker than Homer (and that Homer would possibly act as an “assistant”).


      • 5 Stan
        6 March 2015 at 5:49 pm

        Ummm, maybe it’s just a regular suit for m… y’know, the ‘little people’?

      • 6 Patty Cash
        6 March 2015 at 9:01 pm

        Well, Homer was replaced by a brick, a chicken, and his own son on three occasions (the brick was when he was in the hospital for a coronary-artery bypass graft, the chicken was when he took time off to be a music star [the barbershop quartet one], and his own son was when he went to that Pacific Island to run away from PBS), so, I guess it could be commentary?

        • 7 Stan
          6 March 2015 at 10:47 pm

          What episode was it when Bart became Homer’s boss somewhere for some reason? Or did I just mess up?

          • 8 Patty Cash
            7 March 2015 at 9:49 am

            Far as I know, Bart didn’t become Homer’s boss — but there was that sequence in “Burns’ Heir” where Burns forces Bart to fire his dad to prove that he’s worthy of being his heir. That might be what you’re talking about?

    • 10 Patty Cash
      6 March 2015 at 8:53 pm

      Probably a midget (or “little person,” if you want to get PC) works/worked there (like that Estonian actor from “Burns’ Heir” and “Radioactive Man”), though I think I should just subscribe to the belief that Burns is that cruel enough to hire children.

      Or maybe the writers and animators just pulled it out of their asses.

    • 11 Sarah J
      17 March 2015 at 12:49 am

      It’s a little hard to tell, but the radiation suit is really baggy on Lisa.

  3. 6 March 2015 at 5:17 pm

    DHS is a continuation of SNPP website episode capsules.

    • 13 Patty Cash
      6 March 2015 at 8:49 pm

      Yeah, but they didn’t really go into detail about the show’s satire. They pointed out trivial details, references to pop culture, references to other episodes, and goofs, then either heaped heavy praise or trashed the episode for the dumbest reasons imaginable. If I wanted that, I could go on TVTropes, Toonzone’s forums, or any wikia of any current animated show you can name.

  4. 14 Marcy Conolon
    6 March 2015 at 8:46 pm

    [QUOTE]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.[/QUOTE]

    They did have one of the writer’s (or producer’s) kids on the commentary for the season eight episode where Homer eats that Guatemalan insanity pepper and goes on a psychedelic trip to find his soulmate (you know, the one with Johnny Cash as the “space coyote”), because there was a part in act two where you can hear a little girl asks the writer (or producer) why Homer was wandering around in the tripped-out desert. It’s actually kinda cute.

    And I doubt the writers would actually bring their kids to work (unless Al Jean personally hired them as writers. I don’t know if you know, but Al Jean’s wife is Stephanie Gillis and she has been credited with writing some episodes, so there’s nepotism in both the Al Jean and Mike Scully eras. Julie Thacker is Mike Scully’s wife and she wrote some episodes too), since some of them either don’t have kids or do, but they’re too old and probably either don’t watch the show, watch one of the competitors, or are too busy to watch TV.

    • 15 Stan
      6 March 2015 at 8:51 pm

      El Viaje Misterioso de Nuesto Jomer

      • 16 Patty Cash
        7 March 2015 at 9:51 am

        Yeah, that one. If you have the episode on DVD, listen to the commentary. It’s a season 8 episode, so they don’t waste time (or, they kinda do and kinda don’t).

    • 8 March 2015 at 10:19 am

      That was Josh Weinstein’s kids Molly and Simon on the DVD commentaries for El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer and My Sister, My Sitter. I found them annoying at first, but after a couple of rewatches they’ve started to grow on me. It actually is pretty funny to hear Matt Groening fumble at how to respond to their incomprehensible kid-logic questions about the show, like why Homer doesn’t have wrists or why Ned Flanders’ glasses fit perfectly over his eyes.

      The nepotism in the Scully era was awful. Not only did he put his wife on the writing staff, but his brother Brian Scully was there too. And he used his five young daughters as a focus group for the show, which probably helps to explain why everything got so wild and cartoony during those years.

  5. 7 March 2015 at 12:25 am

    I didn’t see the episode, so I’m more than willing to believe it didn’t play as well as it reads…but that “Twelve” punchline is actually pretty funny.

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