“You’re about to learn the two most dangerous words in the English language are ‘Marge Simpson,’” Marge Simpson herself declared.
Marge is more than her orange pearls, her green bodycon dress, her unmoving beehive of cotton-candy hair, her profuse apologies and her countless anxieties. She’s the antithesis of a stereotype with the depth of the Mariana Trench. Over the course of “The Simpsons,” she plays Blanche DuBois in the play “A Streetcar Named Desire” and gets so into character that she attacks a naked Ned Flanders with a shattered beer bottle. She gets laughed at by Chief Wiggins for a full 30 seconds when she says she wants to be a cop but goes on to break every record at the Springfield Police Department. She discovers hidden talents for painting, bowling, shoplifting and lobbying, all before coming home and dealing with the antics of her aggressively dysfunctional family.
She’s an untapped force of greatness hidden behind a raspy voice that has surely never smoked. I think the world of Marge Simpson. I see my mom in her. I could see yours, too.
In her 30 seasons of “The Simpsons,” Marge has lived as almost every type of woman, including one bearing an uncanny resemblance to one Sandy Usiak.
Marjorie “Marge” Jacqueline (née Bouvier) meets Homer Simpson when they are at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. He’s in a frat for one month, tops, before he realizes he hates people telling him what to do and really just likes the excuse to drink. His first — and only — frat assignment is to dress in disguise and crash Duquesne’s spring play auditions, for which Marge played the piano.
Homer’s fellow pledge, Carl Carlson, who would eventually be the best man at Homer and Marge’s wedding, asks Homer: “What do you think of that Marge?” Marge stops playing piano, leaving the room starkly, suddenly and profoundly silently, just in time to overhear Homer’s answer.
“She has a stupid haircut,” Homer says. Marge bangs on the piano — splat, a moment of textbook cartoon comedy.
After Marge changes her hair from an unfortunate mullet — a completely coincidental change, she’d remark, thank you very much — Marge and Homer soon start dating. Their romance is the type where former college roommates, 30 years later, still offer testimonial evidence of their made-for-each-otherness. Exhibit A: “She came back from the date saying, ‘I’m going to marry that boy.’”
Homer proposes to Marge in 1986 on her birthday, Feb. 3. He is 21 years old, finishing his senior year of college and promising Marge that she will never be alone; he will continue at Duquesne Law School while she finishes her undergrad there. Sometimes she’d nap after a long test and he’d wake her up with a bouquet of flower — lilies, the flower that would be at their wedding.
Homer and Marge eventually add three kids and a dog to their nuclear family. Maggie, the youngest, weans herself off her eternal pacifier: It turns out she’s actually something of a loudmouth. She writes biweekly columns at a liberal arts college, but nobody really reads them, so it’s like she’s still silent.
Marge — the moral force of the family, the one person you know who actually bows her head at Mass and mouths prayers silently — holds the family together when Homer gets sick after all the radiation from the power plant finally catches up to him. Marge convinces Homer not to shave those two dome-shaped hairs at the top of his head despite the radiation. Maggie never hears Marge cry except for one time, when she is on the phone with her smoking sisters, Patty and Selma — but that scene was deemed too sad to air by Simpsons creator Matt Groening.
And, after Homer dies, Marge still dons her orange pearl necklace, still hums too loudly in her orange 1973 Chevy Station Wagon. She still smirks when she pulls up next to a particularly rough 62-year-old biker, his ass-crack showing and his white beard blowing in the wind; she still nudges Lisa away from her phone and shouts, “There’s your boyfriend!” before pulling off.
Marge still finds time to fill out Maggie’s FAFSA, even though Maggie doesn’t call her enough, and even has the courage to quit her job and begin again. In a hilarious arc of episodes, she goes back to school to be a real estate agent, alongside pupils who are 20 years younger than her. You should watch it — it’s really quite like “The Goofy Movie.”
While Marge may not have lived my mom’s life, she represents the strength that every woman has behind the facade of a cotton-candy cloud of blue tresses. Don’t bother looking for this particular arc, though; it can’t actually be found in “The Simpsons.” Instead, ask your carpool mom, or the dutiful Judith who brings you Totino’s Pizza Rolls. I’m sure she’ll know the story. All of them are familiar with the bite in my Marge’s voice while she sacrifices for the good of her kids.
I’ve spent 21 years watching the quiet resilience, sacrifice, patience, multitudes and self-exploration of my Marge Simpson. I can think of no better example of a mother.
Julia Usiak is a senior in the College. This is the final installment of MISS-TAKES.