21. Lisa the Iconoclast
Season Seven, Episode 16
Premiere Date: February 18, 1996
Writers’ Room: When you decide to write a part for Donald Sutherland, you had better bring your A-game. In creating Hollis Hurlbut, writer Jonathan Collier certainly did. Hurlbut’s a worthy foil for Lisa, in that they both dive headlong into whatever most interests them. How else could Lisa counter Hurlbut’s “Jebeditis” joke with her own “Chester A. Arthuritis”?
Essential Quote: “This is nothing but dead white male bashing from a P.C. thug. It’s women like you who keep the rest of us from landing a husband!” –Miss Hoover
D’oh! Moment: “Congratulations, Ned! You are our new town crier!” “D’OH!”
Best Visual Gag: The headline of the Springfield Shopper reads thus: “PARADE TO DISTRACT JOYLESS CITIZENRY.” Bonus: “Springfield Historical Society, Where the Dead Come Alive (Metaphorically).” Bonus bonus: “The Copy Jalopy – We Tried to Make Copying Fun.”
Welcome to Springfield: Well, Donald Sutherland’s Hollis Hurlbut is introduced, but as he’s a one-and-done, let’s welcome “cromulent” and “embiggen.” Both were cooked up for this episode by its writers, and have since gone on to post-Simpsons lives of their own. “Cromulent” has even embiggened the dictionary.
Episode as a GIF:
Analysis: Lisa haters, watch and be silenced. The wonderful thing about “Lisa the Iconoclast”—well, besides the fact that it’s particularly rich in throwaway jokes, even by Simpsons standards—is that Lisa’s fight for justice comes up against something that’s equally as important, albeit in a completely different sense. Her realization that, in this case at least, the power of the symbol matters more than the truth behind it ranks among the most grown-up of Lisa’s many discoveries. Many of the best episodes of The Simpsons are pure, demented silliness from start to finish. “Lisa the Iconoclast” has plenty of that—the battle between Springfield and Washington alone is a deranged delight—but it’s also got something to say. Truth matters. So does hope, and sometimes the happiness of others is more important than being right.