“The Rich Are Different From You and Me.” “Yes, They’re Better.”

A friend just sent me an email saying the following, presumably because I mentioned The New Yorker once too often:

Did you ever see that episode of the Simpsons where Marge makes a bunch of dresses out of one dress, and people assume she’s rich, so she joins a country club? One of the fancy ladies at the club says, “I get all my steaks from the New Yorker.” She reminds me of you.

OK, so, that episode, Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield, is amazing. Trivia time: “The episode was written by Jennifer Crittenden and directed by Susie Dietter. It was the first time a female writer and director were credited in the same episode.” It hails from the amazing Season 7, when Lisa became a vegetarian and we all incorporated “Yes, Ralph, I’m going to marry a carrot” into our sarcasm repertoires. Also “you don’t win friends with salad!” Confession time: I am SUCH a Lisa. Maybe that much is clear by now.

But the Chanel suit episode, which is how I think of “Class Struggle in Springfield,” has so much wisdom to impart about how we view money, and people who have it vs. people who don’t, and clothes as signifiers of status:

Lisa: Do I have to go? That country club is a hotbed of exclusionist snobs and status-seeking social climbers.

Marge: I’ve told you, I don’t like you using the word “hotbed.”


Bart: That place is weird. A man in the bathroom kept handing me towels until I paid him to stop.

Homer: [holding a stack of towels] Should have held out longer, boy.


Lisa: The rich are different from you and me.

Marge: Yes, they’re better.


Lisa [riding on a pony]: Mom, look, I found something more fun than complaining!


Marge: [thinking] Oh, we’ve got a winning hand, we can take the rest of the tricks [camera pans higher up] Oh, we’d better be careful. The purpose of this game is to make friends. You don’t make friends by winning. [camera pans higher up] Still, there’s nothing more popular than a gracious winner. [camera pans to the end of her hair] Don’t ask me, I’m just hair. Your head ended 18 inches ago.


Marge: Homer, what are you doing?

Homer: I’m driving up to the main building. They got valet parking.

Marge: We can’t drive this up there. They’ll see the dent. They’ll see the coat hanger antenna. Stop the car, we’re walking.

Homer: But Marge, valets! Maybe for once, someone will call me “sir” without adding, “You’re making a scene.”

Is there a better “Simpsons” episode about money than this one, or does this one get the crown?



9 Comments / Post A Comment

craigbonderrant (#6,717)

“Don’t worry Marge. Her idea of wit is nothing more than an incisive observation, humorously phrased and delivered with impeccable timing.”

I use this quote ALL THE TIME.

Marissa (#467)

I love this episode so much.

jfruh (#161)

“I’m going to ask them if they know their servants’ last names! …or, in the case of their butlers, their first names.”

tw0lle (#4,354)

I like to watch this episode now, but when it was first aired it made me crazily anxious. Because the country club WAS cool, and Marge looked awesome in that suit and the dress she eventually purchased with their life savings (which…I always wondered how much that was, exactly. A Chanel gown, even in the 90s, must have been a few thousand, no?).

It made me wonder what would have happened if they had actually gone to the party and tried to become members of the club. Could they have reaped the benefits of associating with club members? If nothing else it might have been a boon for Lisa, since ostensibly she could have met lots of well-educated people…

ragazza (#4,025)

For me, nothing will beat Treehouse of Horror VI, with this classic line:

Marge: These monsters are destroying everything and everyone we hold dear! And you kids should have jackets on.

Penelope Pine (#2,808)

I always thought this episode was a commentary on Karl Lagerfeld’s work at Chanel.

mcf (#5,031)

This is one of those episodes that [WARNING] always makes me cry when I see it. [Along with the one where Bart steals the video game, but eventually gives Marge a portrait of himself, as well as a couple others.] I think it does an incredibly good job of winnowing out Marge’s desperation to join the upper ranks of society before she finally backtracks, bending to her love for her family. It’s one of a number of episodes that deal with the family’s finances. Lisa’s sax, anyone? The move to Cypress Creek? “The Simpsons” touches on two issues better than nearly any other sitcom/cartoon of the era—money and religion.

Obviously, I’m a huge, huge nerd when it comes to this show. But seriously, this episode is so good.

keystar (#4,042)

This was the first episode of the Simpsons I ever watched, and my favorite. I still think about her dress, but more importantly, that bit with the hair stuck with me the most.

Also Ester I am totally also a Lisa! Yay :D

laluchita (#2,195)

Not only do I love that episode, but every time I’m almost done with a sewing project, I have a vision of Marge mangling her Chanel suit, and I have to move my foot away from the machine pedal.

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