5 Simpsons Episodes That Made Me Cry

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5 Simpsons Episodes That Made Me Cry

5 Simpsons Episodes That Made Me Cry
I recently penned an article about children’s movies powerful enough to make men cry, and it turned out to be one of the more successful, if depressing, things I’ve written. So, when Dando asked me to front up with a Simpsons article, I decided the only way forward was to grab a bottle of Sailor Jerry’s, knock back a few shots, and get introspective.
Here are 5 Simpsons episodes that have made me cry, or at the very least choke up with emotion. For all that the show has become, there was a time when it packed as much of an emotional punch as it did laughs. It did so with such a brilliant balancing act, that you could watch these episodes 20 times before it hit you. They aren’t all sad moments, in fact, many of them are incredibly uplifting. So, grab a Kleenex and a drink of your choosing and join me on this voyage.
1. Lisa’s Substitute
Trust my favourite actor of all time to deliver my favourite animated performance of all time. Here, Dustin Hoffman (credited as Sam Etic) plays Mr. Bergstrom, although you may know him as Mr. Nerdstrom or Mr. Boogerstrom. In Season 2 of The Simpsons, the writers were starting to figure out exactly who Lisa was and all that troubled her, and in this episode they gifted her a release by the way of an adult who finally recognised her talent and could challenge her to go further. Mr. Bergstrom believed in Lisa, and it was the first time she ever saw a bright future for herself, so when he had to leave for another school it was crushing. Like a forlorn ex-lover, she follows him to the train station, desperate to say anything that can make him stay. It’s then that he teaches her the greatest lesson of all, and it fits onto a scrap of paper. “You are Lisa Simpson.”
2. Moaning Lisa
Even earlier in the show’s run we see Lisa experiencing a crippling depression that she can’t explain. The episode substitutes early laughs to spend enough time investing the audience in Lisa’s pain. Marge and Homer do their best, but if their little girl doesn’t know why she’s sad, how could her parents possibly know how to cheer her up? Marge, calling on her own Mother’s advice, tells Lisa that the best way forward is to swallow those feelings until you don’t feel them anymore. The idea that faking a smile will make everything OK is a startlingly 1950’s one, but it’s the moment Marge realises her folly that tugs heartstrings. After dropping Lisa off at school and watching her fake happiness, she becomes enraged at the reality of her little girl sacrificing her own feelings for the comfort of others. She rips her back into the car, and delivers a hell of a speech that anybody who’s ever felt like they were carrying a burden can appreciate: “Always be yourself. If you want to be sad, honey, be sad. We’ll ride it out with you. And when you get finished feeling sad, we’ll still be there. From now on, let me do the smiling for both of us.”
3. Mother Simpson
In ‘Mother Simpson’ we see a side of Homer that we’ve never seen as an adult. The little boy that we sometimes had seen in flashbacks comes out in the grown man we’d come to love, and unlike the contempt often shown for his father, he shows nothing but love and joy for his mother. The writers make it clear the pain and trauma Homer has been living with in her absence, and hint at a happier future spent making up for lost memories. And then she leaves. At least this time, Homer was awake for her goodbye.
4. A Streetcar Named Marge
‘A Streetcar Named Marge’ has always felt like an underrated episode to me, but it’s also admittedly an alienating one. A lot of the humour derived from this show is best enjoyed by people who’ve taken part in theatre, and the joke that A Streetcar Named Desire be made as a musical flies over the heads of the vast majority of people under 40. In amongst all that, though, there’s a theme everybody can appreciate. The yearning to do something new, to challenge yourself, and feeling held back. There are two scenes that get me here. The first is when Marge is making a phone call explaining that she didn’t get the part, disappearing into a world of sadness as her dream is ripped from her, when at that moment the director rips the phone from her hand and declares “Stop bothering my Blanche!”
The second moment comes a little later, with the beautiful moment after the play has finished where Marge is furious at Homer for not paying attention, when he explains how he wasn’t bored, but was sad. Her play made him realise his own errors and see the Stanley in him. Dan Castellanata does a great job of conveying the sadness and guilt of the moment that you realise how long you’ve been letting down the person that you love.
5. Jurassic Bark
Ok, so this one is cheating, but I don’t care. It’s a mere hop, skip and a jump from The Simpsons to Futurama, and this moment tops everything else on this list. You’d have to be a sap to cry at a few of the moments mentioned so far (and I unashamedly am) but I defy anybody to not bawl their eyes out at this episode. For those who haven’t seen it, Fry is given the chance to reincarnate his dog from the past, and at first jumps at the chance, but ultimately decides not to. He makes the very noble decision not to follow his own selfish instincts, because his dog probably had gotten a new owner and long forgotten about him. It would have been a beautiful way to end the episode…and then came the sharpest knife to the heart I’ve ever felt, as a credits sequence showed Fry’s dog sitting, and waiting, and waiting, and waiting for his return. He sits unmoved through rain, hail and shine waiting for his beloved owner to return to him, until finally old age takes him away. The loyalty of a dog knows no bounds.
Written by Mitch Grinter.
Content courtesy of Torrent This TV. To read more Simpsons nostalgia and pop culture coverage visit the official website.