22 November 2012

The Long Halloween Vol. IV: Simpsons Edition - Bart vs. Thanksgiving

Well folks, it's Thanksgiving time again, the best time of the year. Thanksgiving is a time of turkey, football, food, family, turkey, pilgrims, and football. Underrated amidst the growing Halloween and Christmas, Thanksgiving is nevertheless a great holiday to celebrate. All this year, once a month we're looking at a single episode of the The Simpsons to pair with every major Holiday. With Thanksgiving we of course go back in time to the seventh episode of Season Two, "Bart vs. Thanksgiving."

This episode has a bit of everything. There's the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Dallas Cowboys football, family feuding, and a lovely dinner meal. Thanksgiving has become one of the most traditional holidays around, and this episode gets all its marks right.

The Macy's Parade really boils down to terribly lip-synched brief performances and obnoxious balloons. The Simpsons marks its own ascendency with the Bart Simpson balloon that features in the parade within the episode. Bart comments on his own ephemeral status, but clearly his iconic status has grown with one of the longest running shows of all time.

The Cowboys are acknowledged as America's Football Team, which is terrible in its own right (It's clearly the Buffalo Bills [red, white, and blue, great in the 90s, irrelevant today]). Their Thanksgiving Day showcase is meant to be a chance to rally a national fanbase around a common team, but most people today will be cheering the Redskins instead. The Cowboys deserve to be hated for many reasons, but their inclusion here heightens the episode's status as a true slice of Americana.

"Bart vs. Thanksgiving" really works though, because of how well the writing tread the line in complex and realistically fleshed out family relationships, notably the brother / sister feud between Bart and Lisa. There are highs and lows here as Bart ruins Lisa's Thanksgiving centerpiece, deals with it in his own justified way, and is eventually repentant because of his love of her at the end of the day. That's really what Thanksgiving is all about - coming to the realization that you need to love these people around you and learning to deal with family.

So Happy Thanksgiving guys, save a leg for me.

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