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Thanksgiving specials: The Simpsons (“Bart vs. Thanksgiving”)

Updated on March 5, 2022

Today’s Thanksgiving special entry is this Season 2 episode of “The Simpsons,” “Bart vs. Thanksgiving,” which first aired in 1990.


The plot revolves around a typical Simpsons family Thanksgiving. Homer and Maggie watch some cheesy football halftime show on TV, Marge (and her sisters) go to town on basting a turkey, and Lisa creates an elaborate centerpiece. When the centerpiece gets ruined during a fight with Bart, Lisa runs off to her room, upset. After Homer and Marge send Bart to his room, Bart decides to run away from home. Of course, Bart and the family are reunited by episode’s end.

A nice episode, though of course with little in common with the show’s latter years. There’s more emphasis on characterization and plot versus gags, pop culture parodies or being wacky. Some favorite moments:

  • Marge’s sisters bringing their own food (finding Marge’s turkey “dry”).
  • Marge’s mother, who’s an even bigger grouch than Patty or Selma.
  • Homer telling Bart (after Bart says he’s never heard of Bullwinkle or Underdog) that they can’t make a Macy’s parade balloon for every “flash-in-the-pan cartoon character.” Cue a balloon of Bart going by on TV.
  • Bart on TV at the soup kitchen lying about how long he’s been homeless. (He later shows a change of heart and helps out the actual needy.)
  • Maggie watching the bad halftime show on TV by herself. (Maggie’s cute…)
  • The closing moments on the rooftop, and their subsequent eating of leftovers.

On TV/home video

“Bart vs. Thanksgiving” is occasionally seen on TV in syndication. Since it’s an early episode, it doesn’t air as often as it once did.

The episode’s included as part of the Season 2 box set.

(Updated 11/17/16)

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