I love Lisa Simpson. Of course, loving a TV character is a silly thing for a grownup to do, especially when The Simpsons has all too often passed Lisa through hands that haven’t understood her. (Not like I do, dammit!) One of the nice things that happened in writing this review for the AV Club was seeing the comments largely peopled by those who view this episode as something that touched them when they were younger, and, like Lisa here, desperate to reinvent herself in a place where nobody knew her.
Lisa is too often written (and written off) as a smug know-it-all. As a character, she’s at her best when The Simpsons remembers that she’s also, for all her smarts, a little girl. This is one of my favorite Simpsons episodes ever. (And please don’t forget the great Homer stuff, which is as laugh-out-loud funny as he’s ever been.)
From the thing:
Her eyes switch in an instant from bored to Sopranos dead inside and she waits—just a beat—for the reality of what’s about to happen to settle, before grabbing Bart by the shirt-front and delivering the most blistering, no-shit serious renunciation of a sibling since Michael Corleone smooched Fredo that night in Havana.
“I know exactly who I am—I am the sister of a rotten, jealous, mean little sneak. You cost me my only friends, you ruined my life.”
Yeardley Smith’s performance couples with the animation to make the moment downright chilling. When Lisa turns to her right to grab Bart, the change in perspective makes her hair points look sharp and menacing, as does her posture, dwarfing her seated older brother as Smith spits Lisa’s words with a whispery growl that underlines every syllable—especially the way she unexpectedly shudders as she draws out the word “mean”—with the utter finality of eternal hate. Picking up the innocuous breakfast honey bear and bringing it to within an inch of Bart’s fear-bulging eyeball, this Lisa Simpson has finally, irrevocably had enough. She is the incarnate rage of every betrayed, bullied, disregarded little girl the world has ever known. She is Lisa the Great and Terrible.