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Friday, March 18, 2011

Retro Review: Separate Vocations

Or the One Where
Bart becomes a hall monitor and Lisa becomes a troublemaker.

The Setup
After the results of a career aptitude tests suggest surprising future vocations, Bart gets a taste of authority (and likes it) while Lisa becomes disillusioned with life.

Notable Notes
Nancy Cartwright received an Outstanding Voice-over Performance Emmy for her performance of Bart in this episode.

Favorite Quotes
Janey: Well, that was a waste of time.
Lisa: Janey, school is never a waste of time.
Ms. Hoover: Since we have fifteen minute until recess, please put down your pencils and stare at the front of the room.

Bart: Wow! Can I see your club?
Lou: It's called a baton, son.
Bart: Oh. What's it for?
Lou: We club people with it.

Marge: Bart's grades are up a little this term. But Lisa's are way down.
Homer: Oh... We always have one good kid and one lousy kid. Why can't both our kids be good?
Marge: We have three kids, Homer.
Homer: Maaarge, the dog doesn't count as a kid!

Bart: Seymour, this is an absence slip signed by Nelson's mother. And this is Nelson's English homework. Notice the identical elongated loops on the d's.
Skinner: Forgery! So he didn't have leprosy!

Teebore's Take
Another favorite of mine from this season. This episode is one of the quintessential Bart/Lisa episodes, strengthening their characters by putting them in unfamiliar roles. In addition to being wonderfully funny it's also a great showcase for the show's satire. Along the way, this episode skewers modern education (the children take the "Career Aptitude Normalizing Test", or CANT, filled with loaded questions like, "if I could be any animal, I would be (a) a carpenter ant, (b) a nurse shark, or (c) a lawyer bird."), police corruption (Bart asks Eddie and Lou if they like being cops, and they respond, "Oh, it's great. You get to run red lights, park wherever you please, hot and cold running chicks..."), and teacher standards (the teachers freaking out after Lisa has stolen all of the teacher's editions is a highlight of the episode). Those all may seem like easy targets nowadays, but when this episode first aired, it probably raised more than a few eyebrows. Toss in a sweet ending, in which Bart sacrifices himself for Lisa, the one family member with the potential to actually accomplish something in life, and it's clear the show is definitely coming into its own.


A standout Bart and Lisa episode that showcases The Simpsons ability to marry sitcom humor with scathing social satire.


  1. huh, i'd completely forgotten about this episode, which is too bad because now i remember it begin really good

  2. yeah- i was like 'waah?' when i read the overview, but then as i read the rest of the post it all came back to me

  3. I agree with the Twinsies, I had forgotten this one. I do remember the jokes though now that you mentioned them.

    Thanks for the recap!

  4. Okay, seriously, all three of you need to Netflix some Simpsons stat and revive your memories.

  5. ha! umm, we barely have time to watch tv shows we HAVEN'T seen. there's no time left over to rewatch shows we HAVE
    also, i really want to watch more documentaries (stupid sarah put a damper on that last night by saying she didn't want to be edutained. so instead we watched 2012)

  6. blah blah. i'm allowed to have an opinion on what we watch. ESPECIALLY since i'm the one who pays for the netflix

  7. @Anne: stupid sarah put a damper on that last night by saying she didn't want to be edutained. so instead we watched 2012

    Well, the jokes on her, cuz I'm pretty sure 2012 is a documentary about what we all need to do to survive next year.

    @Sarah: i'm allowed to have an opinion on what we watch. ESPECIALLY since i'm the one who pays for the netflix


  8. Man, you must have popcorn ready like every second of the day, preparing for us to Twin Fight

  9. Well, it's not popped and ready, but yeah...


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