It’s always oddly stressful to take on an AV Club review of a classic Simpsons episode. Even when we’re into season nine, arguably the tail end of the glory days. And double-especially, when, in rewatching this episode, I realized that I liked it less than I remembered. Bummer, but still an honor. A bumhonor. I’ll work on that.
What’s most striking after repeatedly re-watching “Lisa The Skeptic” is how the episode reinforces the essential loneliness that suffuses Lisa Simpson’s existence. As regular Simpsons reviewer for the past few years, it’s no secret to anyone that Lisa’s plight really gets to me. While I make no claim to being as smart as an 8-year-old girl, it’s terribly lonely to be the smartest kid in the class, or at least to feel like you’re the only one who can step back and point out the escalating nonsense around you. And the fact that Lisa is only 8 is the key to making her nigh-invariably correct pronouncements about her world so affecting. Here, Lisa’s refusal to admit the possibility of something supernatural in her find comes off at first sight as just the sort of dismissiveness often pointed to as her least attractive characteristic. (I certainly remembered it that way.) But throughout the episode, Lisa encounters resistance (if not outright hostility) from almost all the adults in her life. Lisa being at the center of the town’s wrath isn’t new (“Lisa The Iconoclast” echoing both the title and theme of “Lisa The Skeptic”), but there are subtler shades to the opposition arrayed against her here. Where Lisa eventually found an ally in Homer in the earlier episode, Marge’s response to Lisa’s truth-telling here is a lot less supportive.
Still, the tail end of classic Simpsons is still, well, kind of not great. Bumhonor. Read the whole review here.