Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy (The Simpsons)
Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy is the fourteenth episode of the fifth season of the American animated television series The Simpsons. It first aired on February 17, 1994 on Fox.
After Grandpa Simpson decides to give the rest of the family their inheritance early, Lisa decides to spend hers on a talking Malibu Stacy doll, but is disappointed to hear that it mostly says phrases designed to suggest that women are inferior to men. She then recruits the original creator of Malibu Stacy, Stacy Lovell, to design a new doll called "Lisa Lionheart", which is designed to promote feminism to young girls.
Why It Rocks
- Great guest performance from Kathleen Turner as Stacy Lovell.
- The episode makes the point that toys shouldn't be trying to brainwash or force propaganda onto children, whether it's the "traditional values" propaganda that Talking Malibu Stacy is trying to push, or the type of feminism that Lisa Lionheart is trying to promote.
- Smithers' obsession with Malibu Stacy makes for some good gags, without crossing the line into homophobia or being overly mean-spirited towards toy collectors.
- Both Lisa's and Grandpa's plots show that yes, your age might cause people to be dismissive of you, but trying too hard to prove that you're wise beyond your years (as in Lisa's case) or really young at heart (in Grandpa's case) will likely just end up making you look even worse.
- Some neat nods to the history of the real-life Barbie doll, and various other toys.
- The ending shows Lisa Lionheart deservedly failing in the marketplace because it was only designed to push a message on its intended customer and had no other unique selling points, meaning that Malibu Stacy's makers were able to easily swat it aside by just bringing out a Malibu Stacy doll with a new hat. It reminds the viewer that children are only really interested in whatever's newest and hottest at the time.
- In addition, the episode points out that big corporations might not be the most ethical people, but the reason they're so successful is because they understand what their customers want.
- Together with Season 2's "Itchy & Scratchy & Marge", it also gives the message that companies should focus on the loyal customers who've made them successful, and not try to pander to people who don't even like their products.
- Funny subversion of the type of ending you'd normally get in a message show, where one girl picks up a Lisa Lionheart doll and Lisa Simpson says that it was worth it if just that one girl becomes interested in feminism as a result - only for Stacy Lovell to point out that it wasn't really worth it for her, seeing how Lisa Lionheart's spectacular failure in the marketplace will likely force her into bankruptcy.
The Only Bad Quality
- Though it features a lot of funny jokes, Grandpa's subplot can sometimes feel a little disconnected from the main storyline.