‘The Simpsons’: Classic Episodes You Should Watch on Disney+
The Simpsons has always been readily available to watch since it premiered in 1989. Whether new episodes every week on Fox, syndicated reruns every day, DVD sets or the FXNOW VOD app, its always been easy to find episodes of The Simpsons. Now that The Simpsons are on Disney+ there’s a whole new audience that may be discovering the show for the first time. Many maybe weren’t even born when The Simpsons began.
For first time Simpsons viewers to start the show in 2019 may be overwhelming. That’s 30 seasons and over 650 episodes! If you want to know why The Simpsons became such a phenomenon decades ago, here are some of the all time classic episodes you should watch first. There are still so many, it was hard to even narrow them down so here’s 14 to start. If you like them, just keep watching.
‘The Simpsons’ will get ‘Mr. Plow’ stuck in your head
This episode of The Simpsons probably became memorable just because of the catchy jingle. “Call Mr. Plow, that’s my name. The name again is Mr. Plow” has been stuck in die hard fans’ heads since season 4, episode nine and will probably plague Disney+ viewers forever.
Homer (Dan Castellaneta) starting a snowplow business is actually one of the few jobs he’s good at, until Barney (Castellaneta) steals his idea and gets very cutthroat about it. The intensity of rivalry over plowing is classic Simpsons.
‘Deep Space Homer’ has visuals and memorable lines
Of all the random jobs Homer has gotten, astronaut is probably the one he was least qualified for. That was the point of season 5, episode 15 though. NASA wanted to appeal to the Everyman.
This episode has some great visual gags like Homer floating around like 2001, only he’s eating potato chips. Breaking an ant farm led to newscaster Kent Brockman (Harry Shearer)’s brilliant line, “I for one welcome our new insect overlords.”
‘The Simpsons’ get racy in ‘Natural Born Kissers’
This might have been the edgiest Simpsons episode up to that point and might be a lot for Disney+. The ninth season finale really went there with Homer and Marge (Julie Kavner)’s sex life. To spice up their love life, Marge and Homer discover the thrill of public sex.
It all leads to a third act where the town of Springfield chases a naked Homer and Marge. The animators found plenty of clever ways to strategically cover up Homer and Marge’s private parts. They wouldn’t go full frontal until The Simpsons Movie.
‘Itchy & Scratchy Land’ has a Simpsonized Disneyland on Disney+
Itchy & Scratchy is Bart (Nancy Cartwright) and Lisa (Yeardley Smith)’s favorite cartoon. In The Simpsons, they have a big enough empire to have their own theme park in the fourth episode of season 6, a brilliant spoof of Disneyland from the massive parking lots to the underground tunnels.
Itchy & Scratchy Land gets a little Westworld in the end when the animatronic robots attack the park guests. Since the cartoon is already a spoof of violent cartoons, their real world counterparts follow suit. It would be quite meta to watch this episode on Disney+.
‘The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show’ spoofs sidekicks
Another great Itchy & Scratchy episode, season 8 episode 14, has the creators add a third character to reinvigorate the show. Poochie is a dog who joins the cat and mouse and Homer does his voice.
Poochie is a scathing indictment of overly focus grouping the creative process. He’s a street talking in your face character designed to appeal to all four quadrants. The only thing funnier is how unceremoniously they get rid of him at the end.
Martha can’t resolve ‘Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy’
This was around the time Barbie was coming under fire for perpetuating unrealistic expectations of women. On The Simpsons, Lisa’s version of a Barbie is Malibu Stacey and she tried to fix it in season 5, episode 14..
When Lisa Objects to the latest Malibu Stacey, the creator of Malibu Stacy (Kathleen Turner) helps her make Lisa Lionheart, a more positive role model for girls. The Simpsons is rightfully skeptical about how well Lisa Lionheart is received.
‘The Simpsons’ go to the future for ‘Lisa’s Wedding’
The Simpsons flashes forward to the future in a fantasy episode where Lisa sees her own wedding. In season 6, episode 19, the show gets a chance to create a hilarious sci-fi future and speculate where the family will end up, which they’d do again occasionally. The ways they keep Maggie from talking are clever.
Lisa enjoys rom-com shenanigans with a British boy and her family embarrasses her. The episode is really about Lisa learning to appreciate Homer as her father.
‘Marge vs. the Monorail’ has another classic ‘Simpsons’ musical moment
This is another episode that became exponentially more memorable thanks to a song. A salesman (Phil Hartman) comes to Springfield in season 4, episode 12 and sells the town on a monorail. The monorail song ended up on the album Songs in the Key of Springfield and performed in concert by the episode author Conan O’Brien.
‘Lisa the Vegetarian’ defined ‘The Simpsons’ forever after
Lisa explores vegetarianism in both a loving spoof and celebration of dietary choices. The most hilarious part is a meat propaganda film hosted by Troy McClure (Hartman) which talks about Bovine University. Lisa imagining where hot dogs come from is pretty great too.
The fifth episode of season 7 is most famous for guest voices Paul and Linda McCartney who agreed to do it as long as Lisa remained a vegetarian after. The Simpsons honored the McCartney’s request although probably never imagined they’d be keeping that promise for 25 years and will reach even more potential vegetarians on Disney+.
Troy McClure steals ‘A Fish Called Selma’
Selma (Kavner) marries Troy McClure in season 7, episode 19 and it actually gives him a career boost. The centerpiece of this episode is McClure starring in the musical Stop This Planet of the Apes I Want to Get Off.
McClure songs about “Chimpan-A to Chimpanzee” and the chorus sings “Help Me, Dr. Zaius” like “Rock Me Amadeus.” Homer’s line “I love legitimate theater” is infinitely quotable. Now that Disney owns Fox, it’s corporate synergy on Disney+.
‘The Simpsons’ try to escape Sideshow Bob in ‘Cape Feare’
Sideshow Bob (Kelsey Grammer) comes back to torment Bart every few years but season 5 episode two was the best Sideshow Bob episode. It is a pretty faithful spoof of Cape Fear, shortly after the hit 1991 remake.
The Simpsons flee Springfield but Sideshow Bob follows them, hanging under their car and everything. This episode also has the classic gag where Bob keeps stepping on rakes and whacking himself in the face.
Homer’s dream job becomes a James Bond spoof in ‘You Only Move Twice’
The Simpsons move again, this time when Homer gets the seemingly perfect job. Hank Scorpio (Albert Brooks) is the perfect boss. He just turns out to be a Bond villain in season 8, episode 2.
That’s not why Homer leaves. It’s ultimately too hard for his family to adjust to a new town. Otherwise Homer would be totally fine with Scorpio killing James Bont (Castellaneta) and any other evil scheme. The Bont scene practically ruins Goldfinger by presenting a much more awesome alternative to the famous James Bond scene.
‘The Simpsons’ get spiritual when ‘Bart Sells His Soul’
What an amazingly surreal concept for an episode, season 7, episode four. Bart sells his soul to Milhouse (Pamela Haden) for $5 thinking it’s meaningless, but then starts to fear he really lost his soul. Bart experiences a real crisis when all he did is write “Bart’s soul” on a piece of paper.
The episode has fun with the literal an spiritual ideas of what a soul is. It’s also got tons of random classics like Bart tricking the church into singing “Ina Gotta Davita” and Milhouse’s obsession with Alf pogs.
‘The Simpsons’ underrated best is ‘El Viaje Mysterioso de Nuestro Jomer’
Season 8, episode nine doesn’t come up as often in lists of classic Simpsons episodes. It may get buried under plows, monorails and souls but it may be the show’s masterpiece. After a fight with Marge, Homer hallucinates from a chili pepper and questions whether she’s his soul mate.
The middle section of his hallucination, with Johnny Cash as his coyote spirit guide, is beautiful and absurd. It goes to the next level in the finale when Homer considers another soulmate. His phone call to GBM says so much without being crass and ultimately Homer learns what a soulmate really is.