|"My Sister, My Sitter"|
|The Simpsons episode|
|Episode no.||Season 8|
|Directed by||Jim Reardon|
|Written by||Dan Greaney|
|Original air date||March 2, 1997|
|Couch gag||The living room is on a ship being tossed by a stormy ocean. The Simpsons, decked out in raingear, run to the couch, but get washed away by a large wave.|
"My Sister, My Sitter" is the seventeenth episode of The Simpsons' eighth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on March 2, 1997. In the episode, Marge and Homer go to a gala and leave Lisa to babysit Bart. Being unhappy with this, Bart does everything he can to annoy Lisa. Eventually, Bart becomes injured and Lisa must find him medical attention without losing her reputation as a good babysitter.
The episode was written by Dan Greaney and directed by Jim Reardon. The script was written to focus on the relationship between Bart and Lisa and the episode has further been used to discuss the difficulties in letting children babysit themselves. The episode received mostly positive reviews.
Inspired by "The Baby-Sitters Club" series of novels, Lisa decides to become a babysitter, but because of her age, no one takes her seriously. One day, Ned mentions that Maude has been taken hostage in Lebanon and he has to leave to get her released. In his haste, he agrees to let Lisa babysit Rod and Todd. After a relatively uneventful night, Ned puts out the good word for Lisa, who experiences a business boom.
Meanwhile, the Springfield Squidport reopens and throws a gala. Homer and Marge decide to go and they leave both Lisa and Bart to babysit Maggie. Bart is scandalized by the fact that his younger sister is a better babysitter than him, and she looks at Bart as the one she has to babysit. In order to make her give up, a jealous Bart torments her by, among other things, ordering a giant Submarine sandwich that is swimming in vinaigrette, hiring Krusty for a bachelor party, claiming that Lisa discovered a UFO, dialing 9-1-1 for a "sisterectomy", and having Maggie eat coffee ice cream for dinner after making her cry by acting like a baby himself. Eventually, Lisa angrily attempts to jump at Bart, but misses, causing him to fall backwards down the stairs, dislocating his shoulder and getting a large bump on his head. Bart then realizes that if Lisa fails to take him to a nearby hospital, her reputation as a babysitter will be ruined. To make his condition worse, Bart locks himself in his room and repeatedly hits his head on the door, eventually knocking himself out.
Lisa tries to call for an ambulance, but the 9-1-1 operator refuses to assist her (due to Bart's earlier prank call). Lisa considers asking Dr. Hibbert, but thinks better of it when she realizes that her ruined reputation as a babysitter will occur. Ultimately, she takes the unconscious Bart to Dr. Nick Riviera's clinic in a wheelbarrow, bringing Maggie along in a pet carrier due to her hyperactive state from all the coffee ice cream. There is a queue in the waiting room, and Lisa is unable to get an appointment. She then tries to wheel Bart to the hospital, but after being briefly stopped by Chief Wiggum Bart rolls down a cliff and into a muddy river right in front of the crowded Squidport. Everyone assumes that Lisa is on drugs, and that she has murdered Bart and is about to drown the caged Maggie. However, Bart, whose injuries have been treated, apologizes to Lisa for causing her trouble and ruining her babysitting business. She forgives him, but is still feeling dejected about being called "World's Worst Babysitter". Much to Lisa's delight, she receives babysitting requests from Dr. Hibbert and Ned Flanders in the days following the incident due to difficulties finding any other sitters.
The episode was directed by Jim Reardon and written by Dan Greaney. Like numerous preceding episodes, "My Sister, My Sitter" deals with the relationship between Bart and Lisa. Greaney specializes in writing Bart and Lisa episodes from the perspective of a kid. Elaine E Sutherland, who is a member of the Law Society of Scotland's Family Law Sub-Committee and Professor of Child and Family Law at the Law School, Stirling University, used the episode to describe the potential problems of letting one of your kids babysit the rest. While one child may be mature enough to babysit, it is not certain that the other kids accept the babysitters authority. According to Alan S. Brown and Chris Logan, the writers of the book The Psychology of the Simpsons: D’oh!, the episode is an example of how feminine anger rarely solves the problem on The Simpsons. “Here, Lisa’s rage and ongoing frustration contribute to her difficulty in making good decisions about what to do with her emotion,” they write. Keeping with the babysitter theme, there are cultural references to The Baby-Sitters Club: Lisa reads book #14 - The Formula Formula, while Janey is on book #20 - The President's Baby Is Missing.
The idea of revamping the waterfront came from cities like Baltimore, who were always trying to fix formerly horrible places. Chris Turner, the author of the book Planet Simpson, writes about the scene at the Squidport: "The "satirical" setting seems almost documentary". The Squidport is a local revitalization project, which recast a historic industrial area as a pedestrian mall. He calls this an example of how “hyper-consumer culture of Springfield moves front and center” On the waterfront, Rainier Wolfcastle opens a restaurant called "Planet Hype". This is a parody of the international theme restaurant franchise Planet Hollywood. Wolfcastle is a parody of Arnold Schwarzenegger, who launched Planet Hollywood along with Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg in 1991. According to Matt Groening, the show had written an entire episode around Planet Hollywood, which featured the voices of Schwarzenegger, Stallone, and Willis as The Three Stooges type of characters. The episode was never animated, because it turned out that it was only the publicist of Planet Hollywood's idea and the actors did not want to participate.
In its original broadcast, "My Sister, My Sitter" finished 47th in ratings in a tie with Melrose Place for the week of February 24 – March 2, 1997, with a Nielsen rating of 9.0, equivalent to approximately 8.7 million viewing households. It was the fifth highest-rated show on the Fox network that week. Since airing, the episode has received mostly positive reviews from television critics. The authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, called it "a clever episode, if a little disjointed — the two stories don't gel as well as normal." Tim Raynor of DVDTown.com said that the episode "is full of the usual, fun antics that you would expect from Bart or any of the other dumb Simpsons." DVD Movie Guide's Colin Jacobson said that "the segments in which Lisa babysits the various kids in town are a delight" and that the episode "mixes wacky moments with reality as it places Lisa in a logical position. Her conflict with Bart creates realism and also brings out the comedy."
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