“The Simpsons” – I Love Lisa (Episode Review)
Written by Jambareeqi
Posted 14th February 2018
WARNING: This Review contains potential spoilers
Today, marks the special celebration of Valentine’s Day, and I thought I’d talk about a classic Simpsons episode set during this romantic occasion. In “I Love Lisa”, Ralph Wiggum sadly gets no Valentines Day cards, but Lisa makes him one out of pity to cheer him up. However, this gesture gives naive Ralph the wrong impression, and he begins to persistently pursue Lisa’s affections.
So, what makes this episode so great? I think it’s all because it has a well written blend of relatable awkward humour and genuine character empathy. Ralph is a dorky kid lacking in social charm, but there’s something endearing about his optimistic cheeriness and innocent dopey personality. We cringe when Ralph embarrassingly tries to win Lisa’s heart, yet we also admire his courage to never give up.
Although, there’s an understanding to Lisa’s situation too, she’s receiving unwanted attention from a boy she doesn’t like, but she’s too caring to break his heart. Even after Lisa maturely tells things straight to Ralph, he continues to win her attention, which must be frustrating.
Later, Ralph gifts Lisa with a ticket to Krusty’s 29th Anniversary Show, and she’s put in a position where she can’t deny such a rare opportunity. It’s only when Ralph announces his love to Lisa live on TV, that she snaps and cruelly tells him that his Valentine’s card was given out of pity. We can see why Lisa would break at this point, considering how Ralph has embarrassed her in front of Springfield, but we also feel for Ralph’s broken heart.
While this love story is playing out, Miss Hoover is directing a school play dedicated to American presidents, with Lisa & Ralph cast as Mr. & Mrs. Washington respectively. Ralph and Lisa’s stage performance is more than your typical amateur school production, as Ralph translates his heartbreak into a surprisingly profound portrayal of President Washington.
The Experience of doing this play together, also helps Lisa and Ralph to become friends again too. It’s a very subtle way for two children to settle their fallout, and a healthy conclusion to everything they’ve gone through.
This episode isn’t JUST about childhood romance though, it’s packed with lots of classic gags that are still funny to this day. From Chief Wiggum chasing after a Duck that’s stolen his badge, to Bart playing John Wilkes Booth in the style of a Arnold Schwarzenegger character.
The Episode is also capable of finding some humour to Ralph’s crush on Lisa too; with Bart making funny wisecracks about the whole ordeal, Homer taking advantage of the poor boy’s desperation to see his daughter, and Chief Wiggum cheekily using his position of Authority to help his son win the girl. So, the comedy we expect from this show is STILL there, and the jokes work because of the strength of the story.
To conclude, “I Love Lisa” is a bittersweet Simpsons episode that beautifully captures the heartache of childhood love, while also showing us that the simple minded Ralph Wiggum has a sensitive soul deep down. The episode gives us memorable gags like “The Mediocre Presidents Song”, but it’ll also tug on your emotions with a sincere story about a schoolboy’s unrequited crush.