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'The Simpsons' - 'Stealing First Base' Recap

by Jason Hughes, posted Mar 22nd 2010 5:25AM
'The Simpsons' - 'Stealing First Base'(S21E15) Our overly litigious society comes under fire in this week's installment of 'The Simpsons,' when a first kiss leads to zero tolerance on touching of any kind at the school. The new policy led to some pretty hilariously awkward moments later in the episode.

Bart learned the complexities of women and relationships while Lisa got a major boost in her self-esteem from Flotus1, a commenter on her gardening blog who was revealed to be someone everyone knows: the First Lady of the United States. The episode focused almost entirely on the school, and was incredibly entertaining throughout; definitely one of the strongest installments of the season so far.

So many of the gags and little jokes worked, like Lisa's teacher deriding her overachiever tendencies, Nelson taking a blind kid under his wing and even Bart and Nikki's discussion on proper vampires.

But the most impressive thing about 'Stealing First Base' was how effectively it tackled both our societal tendencies to sue for every little thing that may happen to us, and our responsive tendency to completely overreact to any potential threats of suit, or sensitivities about anything. In this case, a first kiss culminated in a no touching policy so strict that no one could even touch Bart to help him or resuscitate him after he fell off the roof of the building.

The sad thing is that what we witnessed here on a cartoon isn't a huge stretch from what reality probably is in many schools. I know that in a lot of schools, teachers are absolutely terrified of any physical contact with students, regardless of the circumstances. The major drawback of this level of fear is that it gives some of the power back to the students. They can get the upper hand in tense situations by simply threatening to accuse a teacher of inappropriate touching, and children are cruel and incapable of thinking through consequences enough to do this sort of thing.

No matter how you fall on the issue, I'm impressed that 'The Simpsons' was willing to tackle the issue so directly. Aspects of their satiric comedic approach reminded me more of how 'South Park' jumps all over hot-button issues than the much more tame show 'The Simpsons' has become over the years. I applaud the series for facing such an issue with such intensity, and handling it with humor and compassion.

The scenes with Principal Skinner and Groundskeeper Willie wanting to push Bart toward the curb for the ambulance after he'd fallen off the building exemplified just how out of control these paranoid overreactions can get when we try and implement all-protective policies. Policies more concerned with protecting our asses legally than taking proper care of our children and the people around us.

The other side of the episode tackled the more traditional "smart kids get picked on" cliche that's more true than most parents want to admit when thinking of their own children. But Lisa got a boost of self-confidence when Michelle Obama (Angela Bassett, perhaps prepping for a biopic on the First Lady sometime down the road) showed up to remind everyone that it's those overachievers who become the future leaders of the free world. Of course, everyone knows that, but the bullies still bully.

Nelson even took the time to teach a blind kid how to properly bully the other kids, including a derisive laugh at Bart as he skated backwards away from Nikki (Sarah Silverman) after that hellacious first kiss scenario. Fortunately, or unfortunately, despite that kiss leading to the threat of a lawsuit by her lawyer parents, Nikki was back kissing Bart again, and sending him mixed signals to the bitter end of the episode. Only in fourth grade and he's already learned to be completely and overwhelmingly confused by the complexities of women. I'd say he has a leg up on most of the other kids in his class.

[You can always find more clips and full episodes of 'The Simpsons' over at SlashControl.]

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If I hadn't seen Sarah Silverman's name in the credits, I wouldn't have known it was her.
Also, isn't it great how the school is suddenly rebuilt after being recently destroyed?

March 22 2010 at 8:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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