701. Uncut Femmes

Original airdate: March 28, 2021

The premise: On an overnight field trip aboard a battleship, Marge gets stuck with Sarah Wiggum, who turns out to be more of a kindred spirit than she expected. But it turns out Sarah has a secret past, as two former partners-in-crime come back to get their due, throwing Marge into an elaborate jewelry heist at the lavish Gen Gala.

The reaction: Sarah Wiggum is a non-character. Like a lot of the wives on this show, she was born in the grand cartoon tradition of men being paired up with female doppelgängers of themselves (as well as the grand cartoon tradition of largely male writing staffs being unable or uninterested in writing female characters.) Like Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck before her, Sarah was Chief Wiggum’s portly, dutiful wife, with Pamela Hayden doing her best Wiggum impression for the few instances they gave her dialogue. There are some secondary characters I can see potential in getting their own episode, but this was certainly an out-of-left-field choice. The episode certainly acknowledges it, as it’s revealed that soft-spoken Sarah is actually a lively charmer (now voiced by Megan Mullally) with a secret past, running with a girl gang of thieves in Shelbyville before her partners got arrested. Both Marge and Chief Wiggum incredulously ask, “Sarah Wiggum, who are you?” just to drill that point home. Sarah has basically no characteristics to build off of, so she’s effectively a brand new character, and then when her two former partners kidnap her and Marge, it becomes a series of dialogues and backstories between  these three new characters and their past lives of crime and their new plan to get revenge on their fourth partner who double crossed them, who is revealed to be Lindsay Naegle. It reminded me a little of the Hallmark Christmas episode this season, where the lead character was Ellie Kemper and how weird that felt since we had no emotional investment in her. Here, there’s some thread of Marge relating to Sarah as an overlooked wife, but that angle is underplayed against all of the elaborate heist planning, complete with on-screen graphics and energetic music. The final act called to mind “The Book Job,” the season 23 episode where Homer, Bart and others planned an Ocean’s 11 syle heist to get their YA novel back from some evil publishing guy or something (in an episode also showrun by Matt Selman, so the man’s already repeating himself ten years later.) Here, influence is clearly taken from the all-female Ocean’s 8, which also involved a heist at a museum gala, but this episode makes the same fumbling as “The Book Job,” in that it recreates the tone and feel of those movies without subverting them at all or having any fun with the tropes and trappings. There’s barely any jokes to be had during the heist, nor do I really give a shit about what’s going on. How can I? Why should I give a single crap about this reinvented Sarah Wiggum or her betrayal by Lindsay Naegle, who is a gag character at best? I guess there are some that just find a Simpson-ized Oceans heist to be interesting by itself? I mean, I believe “The Book Job” was looked on favorably by a decent number of current fans, so maybe they’ll view this episode with a similar fondness. For me, I just could not give a shit. We get a few sidebars of Homer and Clancy frantically searching for their wives, nailing down the point over and over that they don’t know anything about them. Half the episode was just either an exposition dump or planning/executing the heist flawlessly, it didn’t even feel like I was watching a Simpsons episode at all. What is this show trying to be anymore?

Three items of note:
– Guest star round-up, I guess: it certainly would have been nice to give Pamela Hayden a starring role in an episode, but why do that when you can stunt-cast? Megan Mullally sounds like a less shrill, breathier Gayle from Bob’s Burgers, not really attempting to emulate Hayden’s Sarah voice at all. Nick Offerman makes a brief appearance (I guess they figured since they got Mullally, they’d bring her husband in too) to reprise his beloved character, that captain guy from that episode where Homer and Bart got in a right? “Wreck of the Relationship,” it was called? It sucked ass, that’s all I remember. Bob Seger voices himself at the concert Homer and Chief Wiggum go to after saddling their wives with field trip duty. When they go backstage, Seger browbeats them, telling them they need to be good marital partners, and the joke is that he’s inserting his song titles into his dialogue. Hysterical. In re-casting news, gay stereotype Julio is now voiced by Tony Rodriguez, who does a podcast or something. He already had a new voice a couple episodes ago, why did they change it? And why didn’t they just throw away that fucking awful character and be done with it? At the start of the episode, Marge is excited to watch the Gen Gala and make catty remarks at the outfits (“I have firm commitments from several A-level gays!”) We see the grouping later and it’s all the usual suspects: Patty and Selma, Smithers, Julio and his partner, Patty’s ex-girlfriend… All our gay characters hang out together because they’re gay, and gay people are all friends because they’re gay.
– They attempt to do some continuity building with a flashback showing young Sarah distracting a young security guard Clancy to perform a heist, but she ends up sleeping with him. Her friends end up arrested, and since she was the getaway driver, Sarah blames herself for the whole thing. Turns out it wasn’t her fault, Lindsay Naegle betrayed them, but if Sarah held onto so much guilt because of this, would she really have wanted to see Clancy again? She believes she ruined her friends’ lives because of this man, but she then married him and lived life as an obedient housewife for fifteen-plus years? Oh, whatever. I recall an early Al Jean episode where Clancy and Sarah are slow dancing, and he comments, “You look as pretty as the day I arrested you!” to which Sarah blushes. That moment is more charming and cute than anything we see in this entire episode.
– Marge saves the day at the end by pulling some fabric to cause Lindsay Naegle to trip at the top of the gala stairs. She elaborately tumbles down the stairs, flopping comically from left to right, bouncing over a dozen times as she plummets to the bottom. I really don’t know why it was done so excessively, but it felt strange and weirdly uncomfortable. It would be overkill if it were Homer, but this is just watching some poor woman flail around in incredible pain for twenty seconds. Are we supposed to feel vindicated that she’s getting her just desserts? Why should I care that Naegle betrayed three characters we literally just met and don’t care that much about? She ends up being framed for a bunch of other thefts, and we get on-screen text reading “The Double Revenge That You Didn’t See Coming But Now You’re Like What!?!?” Again, it feels like they’re banking hard on us giving a shit about this story. Or is the joke that they’re observing that twists happen in movies?

28 thoughts on “701. Uncut Femmes

  1. Wow, what a great character study! I sure learned a lot about Chief Wiggum’s wife! I hope Season 33 gives us an episode centered around Bart’s old friends Lewis and Richard!

    By the way, I was being sarcastic.

      1. These two can be the subject of the 800th episode, the 900th episode can have Lewis and Richard in it, and the 1000th episode will finally see the return of Apu – for one line of dialogue (voiced by Hari Kondabulu for the sake of a Problem With Apu reference) before he gets abducted by Kang and Kodos, and it’s up to the Simpsons and Ozmodiar to go to space and save him!

  2. Am I the only one who felt this episode had some serious volume mixing issues? /I had to keep turning down my speakers because things would just randomly be unusually loud.

  3. That header image makes it look like Sarah Wiggum has a thing for Marge, which would make a much more interesting episode than the tired out bullshit we actually got

  4. I wouldn’t call Sarah a doppelganger of Wiggum. She looks like she was modelled more after her son than her husband. Which makes sense when you consider that the relationship between Chief Wiggum and Ralph was something of a retcon, so Sarah was designed to be a missing link between the two.

    1. Yeah, Ralph was designed first as just some random jerk in Moaning Lisa, then got redesigned in Season 2 to be a slightly dim classmate of Lisa’s. “I Love Lisa” decided to pair both Ralph and Chief Wiggum together due to similar appearances & traits rather than pre-existing familial bonds.

      I think Sarah’s first appearance was in Wiggum’s home movie footage from “Duffless”, and her first speaking line was her going “Clancy!” at the town hall meeting in “Bart After Dark”, four seasons later.

      She really was a non entity on the series that existed purely so the family made some sense, but I also recall her being… I don’t know the phrase to use without bodyshaming, chunkier? About the same size as Wiggum to be specific. Here they made her about 80-100 lbs lighter to sell her flashback image and a more reasonable weight gain due to maternity, but this new design just felt off to me.

      1. Isn’t her first speaking line “Clancy, use the remote!” in Homer’s barbershop quartet? It seems like all she really was before now was Chief Wiggum’s nagging wife whose catchphrase was “Clancay!”

  5. To illustrate your point about Sarah Wiggum being a non-character, Mike, here are some statistics:

    In the first 9 seasons, starting in season 4, she appears 9 times and has 2 lines. Over the next 23 seasons, including background and non-speaking appearances, she’s in 71 episodes. There have been 701 in total. That’s an appearance percentage of 11%, or, to put it another way, she’s only in one out of every ten episodes.

    It’s no surprise they rebooted her, but unless Mullally is a recurring guest, what’s the point? The character will return to being background, and Hayden will voice her, rendering the episode pointless.

    I know Selman said that everything and nothing is canon, but without some form of consistency, the episodes hold no weight. I haven’t watched the show since season 15, and maybe my opinion has no weight either, but if they just came straight out and said, “from season x this is canon, and nothing else is”, and dropped all the references to the glory days, they’d be far better off. It’d end the arguments. Separate the eras. Give them a solid base to work off; Instead of constantly tripping over their “non-timeline” timeline.

    Groening recently said they have “ambitious” plans for Apu too. I can’t wait to see how badly they screw that up…

  6. One of the lines at the beginning of the episode stuck with me. When Luann comments that she feels bad for anyone that has to stay with Sarah, Bernice comments “What is she looking for, a personality?” This line is particularly weird because Bernice herself doesn’t really have a personality besides being a Helen Lovejoy fill-in.

    1. Also, forgot to say Dawnn Lewis now voices Bernice Hibbert because Tress MacNeille can’t because she is white. I’m so sick of all this recasting bullsh*t, isn’t the whole point of voice acting to voice someone who’s different than you. I understand live-action blackface, but voicing a black character when your white is not blackface it’s so stupid. I honestly was so taken out of the episode when Carl started speaking because he sounded nothing like Hank Azaria’s voice of him. Also, why was Helen Lovejoy at the LGBT+ party because everyone else there was gay? I understand Selma being there because while she isn’t part of the LG community she’s Marge’s sister so of course, she would invite her. Is this supposed to say that Helen is a lesbian or that weird moment from Season 20 “Wedding For Disaster” where the pastor indirectly tells Tim, Helen is transgender.

      1. You’d think that, but the Matts, All and crew really want to get their good boy points by trying not to offend anyone lest they get another Problem with Apu. Which in and of itself was a massive load of bull.

  7. I’ll be honest, I was checked out by the time they implied she first robbed AND met Clancy in 2006 (by inexplicably playing Hollaback Girl), when we know damn well that’s not the case.

    Also, judging by the title and the diamonds, this is not only their “Parody” of Ocean’s 8, but their “Parody” of the perfectly fine Uncut Gems (easily Adam Sandler’s best film in a decade, so that’s saying something). Either way, it’s a dated reference.

    And sadly, FAMILY GUY did a better Bob Seger joke, at least actually MAKING a joke, albeit about how all his songs were inspired by pooping (which makes sense when you see some of the names- Against The Wind, Night Moves, Like a Rock)- and it was clearly an effective joke considering they removed it from the episode. Kinda sad to see a competitor succeed by simply MAKING a joke.

    1. The Simpsons itself had a better Bob Seger joke in “My Sister, My Sitter.”

      “Enjoy Bob Saget!”
      “It’s Bob Seger!”
      *Looks at tickets*
      “Aw crap!”

  8. It’s baffling to me that they actually went through the effort of recasting Julio. Like, what the fuck? Would any of the show’s fans actually care if he never appeared again?

    They’re obviously never going to develop him or give him a personality “trait” other than being gay, so I seriously don’t get why they bothered.

    1. He’s not only “gay”, but he’s “condescending gay stereotype”, that the show introduced as a counter to the milquetoast Grady in “Three Gays of the Condo” (who was a guest star character, hence they don’t bother using) yet fell in love with since they think he’s *hilarious*.

      I think plenty of people in the LGBT community don’t care at all for aloof, abrasive characters (only putting them above the limp-wristed “flaming” types) due to said characters being based off stereotypes rather than being actual characters with a chance to adapt or evolve, which begs the question why you keep bringing him back, let alone recast him?

      It also showed me how far out of the loop I am with the modern episodes that I didn’t know who Grizzly Shawn was as a character at the Gala watch party.

  9. I don’t know if anyone if still reading this days later–but could someone try to explain the jokes about the boat that Bart and Ralph are camping on. The captain says something about the name of the boat being too offensive for modern times and during one of the establishing shots, the boat’s name is blacked out. I couldn’t quite understand what they were going for–was this something specific or just heavy-handed satire?

    1. When it comes to this show, go with “heavy-handed satire” whenever in doubt.

      The writers thought they could be cute with censorship regarding things no longer acceptable in today’s age, but it comes off as confusing. Similar to how everything Bob Seger said was nothing but him listing off his songs.

  10. I ‘am SUPER late on this almost a month, but here is what I have to say, You couldn’t have said what you said about this fucking shitty ass episode any better!!

    Yes, this episode was fucking shit, and Sarah was portrayed as this fucking jewel theft or whatever which made no sense and there was never any evidence or build up of this. She’s not any of that, she’s just Clancy’s soft, loving, and slightly fat wife, and Ralph’s loving sweet mother. She had a personality before, not fully developed, but she was soft and kind, just like a lot of the other mothers in Springfield.

    I don’t know what the writers were thinking by using her for this episode when it in fact should’ve been a new character since non of the stuff in this episode makes sense with it being Sarah. This seems more like an imposter Sarah Wiggum, as in the very beginning she acts all weird and can’t even piece 2 words together, when in fact she does talk normally, and even knows who Marge is as they have been seen together such as in mother clubs. Marge also walking up to her at the beginning acting like they haven’t met before is also way off since again they damn well know each other if they have been seen together in the past.

    Then they have her voiced by celebrity voice actor Megan Mullally and it doesn’t even sound like Sarah either just like you and others have said, and the excuse for that according to Matt Selman is that to show she is this robber or whatever because that right there shows that if they had Palma Hayden voice her, it wouldn’t work because true Sarah isn’t this “cool badass former criminal chick who also doesn’t act like her true self, as well as put’s their husband in a wrestling move towards the end”, and all this time Palma Hayden voiced Sarah and that brings Sarah’s true personality to life. Funny enough, Clancy even thinks Sarah is acting weird in this episode as he says she’s no more then just his popin’ fresh sweetheart.

    I just absolutely FUCKING HATE the fact they make her an ex Criminal and have these other random girls as well, the backstory is wrong too since Clancy and Sarah met in a completely different way. I can go on and on about this shitty episode, but I’ll just link my imdb review which goes more into detail, mine is titled #NotMySarahWiggum: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt13977674/reviews?sort=helpfulnessScore&dir=desc&ratingFilter=0

    And it’s so stupid that its funny that some people actually like this episode, but you can tell its definitely new fans and ones that are so stupidly gullible about all the new Simpsons episodes, and that don’t even know that much about the show and made it good, and a main thing, haven’t paid close attention at Sarah’s cameos throughout the course of the show since her first appearance to get an idea of who she actually is. And they also have no logical claims that justify why it was so good, and if they do have claims, they don’t make sense.

    It was fucking awful and its funny since Sarah won’t be like this in future episodes or cameos making this episode useless and non canon, but either way, if they HAD to do a Sarah Wiggum centered episode, the whole plot about Sarah should’ve been changed, and what should’ve happened is we see just Sarah and Marge heartwarmingly bond together doing stuff moms would do and not this overreacted backstory and thief bullshit that makes no sense and doesn’t match Sarah’s personality or true self whatsoever, and I guarantee the writers even knew this episode made no sense and was shitty to begin with, but all they wanted to do is just attempt to rake in viewers.

    Fucking pathetic ass episode and what a way to make sweet Sarah Wiggum this cocky, annoying, unlikeable, immature, asshole badass chick all for this one episode in an attempt to rake in viewers. I don’t give a shit if this episode was not Sarah’s true self or if this episode was non canon and not the real Sarah Wiggum, it shouldn’t have been made unless it was done properly like I said above, or if Sarah was instead a brand new girl character we are just meeting, not an already existing character.

  11. I’ll say it here, and I’ll say it again: the first few minutes of this episode worked for me. I really liked the slow-talking Sarah voice, and how Marge interacted with her as the rest of the grownups partnered up with other women. Shy Sarah was an interesting idea, and something I would’ve been on board with, but once we get to the jewelry part the episode goes off the deep end and into a point of no return.

  12. Yeah true, but even the shy Sarah was off as well, she’s not shy or anything like that, and like I said, she knows Marge very well as they’ve been seen together. I still laugh at the fact that some people like this episode, and if that’s the case, they defiantly haven’t paid attention to Sarah’s cameos in the past like I have. Also, Selman’s explanation about the voice change in this episode absolutely confirms it was a one time thing and renders this episode useless and even non canon.

  13. Yeah man, do yourself a favor and don’t watch this sexist piece of shit of an abomination. But of course, you’ll still hear from all these newer fans of the show say that Sarah is a “blank slate” and had “no personality” which is what Matt Selman said, fucking sexist asshole, and the mans wife is also a breast cancer survivor, and by doing shit like this to a female character, pretty much is questionable what type of sexist shit he says towards his own wife.

    They symbolize that Sarah’s an actual character by giving her a more attractive look, messing up her hair, giving her a more “normal” voice and slimming her down. While the male writer and showrunner of “Uncut Femmes” had to make Sarah slimmer and sexier before they could be bothered to work with her. And its funny how people don’t realize how sexist this is lmao. Matt Groening created her, but I’m sure he was disgusted on what they did to her here and how sexist it is, but yet at the same time they are trying to be PC by canceling Apu, and recasting all black characters with black voice actors, but pretty much fat shamming Sarah in her original form and making her “sexy” is pretty much saying that they couldn’t do anything with her until they did this bullshit. One of the stupidest fucking things they have done in recent years, and it pisses me off on how god damn stupid people not realizing all of this, and clinging on to Selman’s “She’s a blank slate” claim which is bullshit, because it isn’t even possible to be a blank slate or have “no personality”.

    If she can talk perfectly fine and has emotions and does things, then she is someone and does indeed have a personality. Dumbass Selman you stupid ass motherfucker. God I want to tell him off in person straight up over this shit. So disrespectful to even Pamala Hayden who is the actual voice of Sarah. Just because you don’t get much speaking roles and what not doesn’t automatically make you a nobody and have no personality which again isn’t even possible. Is Maggie a “blank slate” and has “no personality” because she can’t speak and has only spoken approximately 2 times? Of course she has one because she has actions and emotions. EVERY character in Springfield has a personality no matter if they don’t get speaking roles much, the show after all is called “The Simpsons”.

    “Oh, we can’t make a Sarah Wiggum centered episode without retconning her in a sexist illogical way” and throw in a celebrity Voice Actor on top of that. Pretty much they were saying is Sarah needs to be up to our specs rather then what Matt Groening created her to be as, which is pretty much a female version of Clancy. She has always been someone LONG before this shit, and the episode is technically non canon since she is back to her old design and personality starting in the first episode in Season 33, although, those 2 bitches that were her “partners in crime” are shown as background characters in the latest episode, but are not next to Sarah and at this point are just random background characters that aren’t even related to being with Sarah and the 3 being “criminals”, etc etc.

    I wonder why both Matt Selman and Al Jean deleted their tweets regarding this sexist retcon in this episode. Maybe they came to find out it isn’t “PC” and fans were giving them shit, but there’s a lot out there still that jack off to this episode as being the greatest thing of all time. Go back and watch every cameo and speaking role of Sarah and then come back to this and then tell me that she still has “no personality”.

    They of course won’t go back and look for themselves and will just get spoon fed Selman’s bullshit claims and logic that holds no wait regarding this and just stuff in general especially about continuity and canon.

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