Making this list was incredibly difficult because initially, I wanted to have only 5 episodes. I have been watching The Simpsons since I was in first grade so as it has been a big part of my childhood. I decided to go with 10 to include not just the emotional, touching episodes but also some of the most humorous and pee in your pants from laughing worthy. The Simpsons is sometimes a TV show I wind up overlooking when I think about my favorite shows simply because I've watched it for so long and seen so many repeats that I feel I shouldn't have to mention I love it. It should, in some strange way to the untrained eye of a stranger, be implied that just by looking at me, I am a Simpsons fan. That's how I think of it sometimes but in any case, here's the list. And yes, I have laughed so hard during some of these episodes that I not only cried from laughter but also peed in my pants. I have cried in a couple too and those that pull on my heartstrings are at the top 5.
10. "Homer the Heretic" Season 4
As a kid I was forced to attend church every Sunday and let me tell you, those rare precious Sundays free of worship service were the greatest of all the Sundays. I would go to bed late on Saturday, content and happy from two hours of Mad TV and SNL episodes and wake up late the next morning and eat a late breakfast and read or something. Always better than the mornings that I had to sullenly wake up at 7am and walk to church with an empty stomach and the shows being reruns. So I think anybody who has had a history of forced church going can relate to this episode.
Homer decides on a cold Sunday not to go to church and has the best day of his life by dancing in his underwear, making ‘moon waffles’, watching the game and finding a penny. Marge and Co. have a miserable Sunday and come home to Homer who declares he is done with church. Everyone from the Reverend Lovejoy to Ned Flanders tries to convince Homer to go back to believing but Homer digs in his heels, especially after a conversation in a dream with God who is chill with Homer’s decision.
Homer falls asleep smoking a cigar and sets the house on fire. Ned rescues Homer from flames and Homer is grateful enough to begin returning to church (even though he sleeps through the sermons).
9. "Boy-Scoutz 'n the Hood" Season 5
I really want to go on a Squishee bender someday. Maybe mine won’t be made entirely out of syrup though. After Bart and Milhouse “go crazy Broadway style” in Springfield, Bart wakes up the next morning to discover he joined the Junior Campers (like Boy Scouts). Bart’s in it for the pocket knife and eventually racks up a bunch of badges for his vest while Homer mocks him for being a camper. The Junior Campers host a father/son white water rafting trip and Homer goes after using reverse psychology poorly. They share a raft with the Flanders and take a wrong turn for the middle of nowhere but luckily, when the going gets absolutely disastrous, Krusty burgers and Homer’s sense of scent save the day.
A quickie side note: watching this show as a kid and seeing Bart, Lisa, and Milhouse roam the streets of virtually everywhere in Springfield made me slightly envious. Where I lived which has been hailed frequently as the most dangerous city in the United States, you really couldn’t do that shit, especially not at night and definitely never at the age of 10 or 8. Plus as a kid I lived in a neighborhood that featured an ice cream truck that drove around at 11pm which was pretty damn creepy.
8. "Homer Goes to College" Season 5
If I didn’t include a predominantly Conan O’Brien written episode, there would be something wrong with me as he did a brilliant job as a writer for the show.
Homer has to actually do his job during a surprise inspection at the power plant and fails to do so. He must go back to college according to the plant and Mr. Burns helps get him into Springfield University. Because Homer has watched way too many Animal House rip off films, he views college as a place where higher education is not nearly as important as pulling a prank of stealing another school’s pig mascot and where the dean is crusty and uncool when in reality, he’s a really nice guy. After a meltdown in physics class, the dean decides Homer could use a tutor and he is saddled with three ultra nerdy guys that he winds up getting expelled for the aforementioned pig prank.
The three nerds are highly lacking in street smarts (they fall victim to Snake posing as a “wallet inspector”) and Homer decides to take them in. This doesn’t last long and through a series of events, Homer hits the dean with his car and apologizes for what he did at the hospital, that he was fully at fault and that the three nerds should be reinstated to the school. The dean caves and Homer finally takes his final exam which he fails and repeats the class again from Marge’s insistence.
Oh, this one just can’t be beat especially when Homer misspells the word “Smart” when singing and pulls on the pig’s tail crying out “Curly, Straight! Curly, straight!”
7. "Bart of Darkness" Season 6
“Can we have a pool Dad? Can we have a pool Dad? Can we have a pool Dad?”
Summer is always hellishly hot outside but when you are a Simpson and you have no air conditioning and the fridge has broken because you left it open with a tent attached, it is the worst summer ever. A pool can solve that problem!
When the Simpsons get a pool, they become the most popular house in town. Bart shows off diving from a two story height and breaks his leg, spending the rest of the summer in a cast while Lisa takes over the position of the Queen Bee. Bart begins to develop some eccentricities a la Rear Window from being cooped up all day with only a telescope for company and thinks that Ned Flanders murdered his wife from mounting evidence all around him. (He digs a hole in the backyard, tells his kids that Mommy is with God now, and even cries out “Oh my God, I killed her!) Bart uses Lisa to help solve the mystery who has been dethroned from her cool titles thanks to Martin’s new huge pool and the entire episode is just filled with hilarious jokes including Bart’s heroic attempts to rescue Lisa and the problems it caused along the way.
I have a straight-up love for things that make me highly nostalgic for summertime (i.e. bubbles, shorts, sno-cones, late night runs to DQ, good songs on the radio, stacks of library books and watching loads of Dazed and Confused) and this episode always makes me feel ready for summer to start. Then again, it’s almost currently over…how did that happen?
6. "Bart's Girlfriend" Season 6
What happens when the sweet innocent minister’s daughter and the devil’s cabana boy get together? You get a whipped Bart Simpson, that’s what.
Bart falls in love with Jessica Lovejoy, the Reverend’s daughter who despite her sweet voice (I still have a hard time believing it was Meryl Streep) and bangs is a total rebel girl that I’m pretty sure the song “Cherry Bomb” by The Runaways is based on.
He doesn’t hit it off with her parents after telling inappropriate jokes about the show “Martin” but Jessica and Bart hit the town by TP’ing the Jebediah Springfield statue, eating ice cream in front of a weight loss center and dancing to “Miserlou” a la the Pulp.
Bart is accused of stealing the chapel collection money even though it was Jessica who obviously did it. Bart chivalrously takes the fall for Jessica even though Homer and Marge believe he innocent but Lisa enraged at the injustice, outs Jessica in a church service where the entire congregation hurries to her room to find the missing money underneath her mattress. She is forced to clean the church steps as penance but Bart winds up taking over so she can catch a ride with a guy on a motorbike.
I love this episode simply for Jessica. I wish they would bring her character back sometimes. It would be so interesting to see what she is up to now. She would totally have a nose piercing and an amazing choppy haircut. I can see it.
The top 5 tomorrow! (I have been so busy lately, it's been awful)
Love to you all,