I Married Marge
"I Married Marge" is the twelfth episode of The Simpsons' third season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on December 26, 1991. In the episode, Marge worries that she may yet again be pregnant and drives to Dr. Hibbert's office. While anxiously waiting, Homer begins to tell Bart, Lisa, and Maggie the story of how he and Marge got married and how Bart was born.
|"I Married Marge"|
|The Simpsons episode|
|Episode no.||Season 3|
|Directed by||Jeffrey Lynch|
|Written by||Jeff Martin|
|Original air date||December 26, 1991|
|Chalkboard gag||"I will not torment the emotionally frail".|
|Couch gag||The family (except Maggie) cartwheel into place and strikes a pose. Maggie hops onto the couch and joins them, striking the same pose.|
James L. Brooks
Written by Jeff Martin and directed by Jeffrey Lynch, "I Married Marge" was the second flashback episode of The Simpsons after season two's "The Way We Was". It features cultural references to The Empire Strikes Back, Charlie's Angels, and Ms. Pac-Man. The title of the episode is a play on the American television series I Married Joan. Since airing, "I Married Marge" has received mostly positive reviews from television critics. It acquired a Nielsen rating of 11.9 and was the highest-rated show on the Fox network the week it aired.
The episode was the first of three about the births of the Simpsons children, this one covering Bart's birth, with Lisa's covered in "Lisa's First Word" in the fourth season, and Maggie's covered in the sixth-season episode "And Maggie Makes Three". The episode also expands upon the family's origins as a result of Marge falling pregnant with Bart, briefly referred to in "The Way We Was", and introduces key moments, such as Bart's conception at a Mini-Golf course, which would ultimately become a major part of the series' canon.
Marge and Homer worry that Marge may be pregnant again after a home pregnancy test gives inconclusive results, so Marge drives to Dr. Hibbert's office to take another test. While waiting, Homer tells Bart, Lisa, and Maggie the story of how he and Marge got married, and Bart's birth thereafter. In 1980, Homer works at a mini-golf course and is dating Marge. Marge's mother Jacqueline and her twin sisters Patty and Selma disapprove of Homer due to his apparent lack of prospects and unattractive physical appearance. One night, they see The Empire Strikes Back (whose twist ending Homer inadvertently ruins for the next audience) and later make out inside a golf course castle. A few days later, Marge feels sick and tells Homer that she might be pregnant. He takes her to Dr. Hibbert's office, who confirms that Marge is pregnant, which Homer is less than thrilled over. Since he loves Marge, and with Grampa's urging, he proposes to her and she accepts.
They decide to name their new baby Bart, as it is the first name they could think of that Homer did not think other children would make fun of. The two marry in a seedy wedding chapel across the state line. They spend their wedding night at Marge's family's house, sleeping on a couch in the living room, which further irritates the family.
Homer's wages at the mini-golf course are insufficient to pay for his growing family so he applies for a job at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, but is unsuccessful due to his idiotic behavior and Smithers' obvious bias towards the other two applicants, who were members of his old fraternity. Soon, Homer tried other jobs, but none were successful (one of which was a scam). When Homer and Marge's newly purchased baby supplies and Marge's wedding ring are repossessed, Homer decides to leave and find a job. When Marge reads the letter Homer left behind explaining his actions, she is devastated and brought to tears. Homer gets a job at a "Gulp N' Blow" taco restaurant, where Patty and Selma find him. Selma, seeing how unhappy her younger sister is without Homer, decides to tell Marge the truth in spite of Patty's reluctance (due to her obvious hatred of Homer). Marge finds Homer and convinces him to come back home with her. When Homer says he cannot provide much material wealth for Marge, she reminds him that anything he gives her is valuable, because it is from him.
Homer applies for a job at the power plant once more, this time marching into Mr. Burns's office and telling him that he will be the perfect employee. Mr. Burns is so impressed that he hires Homer on the spot. When Homer returns to Marge's house, he learns from his mother-in-law Jacqueline that she has gone into labor and is already at the hospital. He hurries there and sees Marge with Selma and an angry Patty, who starts berating him. Fed up with her disrespect, Homer lashes out at Patty and angrily tells Patty (as well as the rest of the Bouvier family) to start showing him some respect for the fact he has a job, a piece of news that Homer promptly tells Marge before she finally gives birth to Bart. After Homer finishes telling his flashback story, he admits to Bart that he received the greatest gift a man can have the day Bart was born. At that time, Marge arrives home with the news that she is not pregnant. They are both overjoyed and high-five.
"I Married Marge" was written by Jeff Martin and directed by Jeffrey Lynch. It was the second flashback episode of The Simpsons and a sequel to the previous one, "The Way We Was", which tells the story of how Homer and Marge met in high school. Executive producer Sam Simon was concerned that the writers were being "inefficient" with the episode; he thought the three plots of Homer and Marge's marriage, the birth of Bart, and Homer getting his job should have been extended into three episodes instead of one.
The staff were concerned over the animation of the characters' eyes in the episode, as the pupils were larger than normal, making the characters look "stoned", and the eyeballs were "too round" and large. The animation artists at the animation studio in South Korea, where much of the animation process takes place, had begun stenciling the eyes with a template, which according to Lynch resulted in "strangely round eyes which look a little too big sometimes and much too perfect. Which is very un-Simpsons like." Marge was designed with shorter hair in the flashback sequences to make her appear younger. Lynch thought it was nice to see Marge in a "younger, more attractive mode, and sort of watching her progress through pregnancy."
The title of the episode is a reference to the American television series I Married Joan. Marge and Homer sing along to "You Light Up My Life" by Debby Boone in the car. When Marge is suspected to be pregnant, Bart wants to name the baby after rapper Kool Moe Dee, while Lisa wants to name her after Ariel, from The Little Mermaid. At the beginning of his story, Homer mentions the band Supertramp, and their popularity in the time period. While exiting the movie theater, Homer spoils the ending of The Empire Strikes Back for dozens of moviegoers awaiting the next show. He also compares Marge's good looks to Princess Leia and her intelligence to Yoda, two characters from the film.
Homer's encounter with the donut delivery man that delivers donuts to the power plant is a reference to a scene in the film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Homer and his best friend Barney Gumble are watching Charlie's Angels when Marge tells the news of her pregnancy. A poster of Farrah Fawcett, a cast member of Charlie's Angels, hangs on the wall in Barney's apartment. Dolly Parton's 9 to 5 is heard when Homer looks for a new job. The sign outside the wedding chapel resembles Vegas Vic from the Pioneer Club in Las Vegas. When Homer returns to the power plant to apply for a job the second time, Mr. Burns is seen playing the arcade game Ms. Pac-Man. The episode marks the first appearance of Burns's assistant Smithers's first name, Waylon, which comes from the puppeteer Wayland Flowers. When Homer is working at the Gulp N' Blow, he is wearing an "I Shot J.R." T-Shirt, a reference to the Who Shot J.R.? storyline in Dallas in 1980.
In its original American broadcast on December 26, 1991, "I Married Marge" finished 27th in the ratings for the week of December 23–29, 1991, with a Nielsen rating of 11.9, equivalent to approximately 11 million viewing households. It was the highest-rated show on the Fox network that week. Marge's voice actor, Julie Kavner, received a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance in 1992 for her performance in the episode.
Since airing, the episode has received mostly positive reviews from television critics. Pete Oliva of North Texas Daily praised the writers for providing back stories that are "believable" and do not feel "contrived or hastily thought through." The authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, thought it was a "moving" episode with "plenty of great setpieces." DVD Movie Guide's Colin Jacobson described the episode as "sweet and funny" and a "nice piece of Simpsons history." Jacobson went on to say that he enjoyed the flashback concept and that the episode develops the characters "nicely" and gives the viewers "a good sense for the era in which it takes place." Nate Meyers of Digitally Obsessed gave it a 5/5 rating, and highlighted the scenes with Marge's sisters Patty and Selma, "barraging Homer with insults", as the "funniest moments" of the episode. Meyers added: "The episode's climax is a great moment for Homer and fans of the show." Molly Griffin of The Observer said "I Married Marge" is one of the season three episodes that turned the show into "the cultural force it is today."
In his book Drawn to Television – Prime-time Animation from the Flintstones to Family Guy, Keith Booker wrote: "The episode details in a rather sentimental fashion the early struggles of the irresponsible Homer to support his new family [...] Such background episodes add an extra dimension to the portrayal of the animated Simpson family, making them seem oddly real and adding weight to their status as a family with a long history together."
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