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"Moaning Lisa"
The Simpsons episode
Episode no. 6
Prod. code 7G06
Orig. airdate February 11, 1990[1]
Show runner(s) James L. Brooks
Matt Groening
Sam Simon
Written by Al Jean & Mike Reiss[2]
Directed by Wes Archer[2]
Chalkboard "I will not instigate revolution"[3]
Couch gag The Simpsons pile on to the couch, Maggie pops up in the air and Marge catches her.
Guest star(s) Ron Taylor as Bleeding Gums Murphy
Matt Groening
Wes Archer
Al Jean
Mike Reiss

"Moaning Lisa" is the sixth episode of The Simpsons' first season, and originally aired February 11, 1990.[1] The episode was written by Al Jean and Mike Reiss, and was directed by Wes Archer.[2] Ron Taylor guest stars in the episode as Bleeding Gums Murphy.[4] The episode deals with Lisa's depression and her attempts to sublimate it by playing her saxophone. It received positive reviews from television critics.



Lisa awakens one morning with a potent case of the blues. She attempts to exercise some of her sadness with a burst of "creativity" which is unwelcomed by her band teacher Mr. Largo. Her gym teacher, also unsympathetic, has a note sent home to Lisa's parents regarding her refusal to participate in dodgeball. Homer and Bart, meanwhile, are playing a video boxing game. Undefeated with 48 wins, Bart takes only one round to knock off the head of Homer's boxer. While Homer is down for the count, Marge gives him the note from Lisa's teacher. Lisa's existential distress puzzles Homer's simple emotions, and Marge attempts to administer the advice she was given by her mother regarding happiness, but nothing her parents say can bring Lisa out of her depression.

Hearing distant music one night, Lisa sneaks out of her room to follow it. She finds a saxophone player, "Bleeding Gums" Murphy, playing some blues. Murphy teaches Lisa how to express her sadness on the sax and plays with her until Marge finds her and exclaims, "Lisa! Get away from that Jazz Man!". The next morning, Marge drops off Lisa at school and tells her to smile no matter how she feels. She sees Lisa hiding her true feelings and classmates taking advantage of her and becomes mad. Just then, Mr. Largo comes out and denies Lisa her creativity. Realizing that this is the reason why Lisa is sad, Marge becomes furious, floors the pedal, takes Lisa back, and drives away in an instant. Marge admits she was wrong and tells Lisa that it is best to be herself and if she does feel unhappy about life, Lisa can talk to Marge about it. When Lisa hears this, she feels happy again, knowing at least her mother respects her feelings.

Meanwhile, Homer takes lessons from a local video game wizard named the Champ for a rematch with Bart. Just as he starts to win against Bart, Marge unplugs the TV to announce Lisa's recovery. Seizing the opportunity to maintain his undefeated status as boxing champ, Bart gleefully announces retirement from the ring, to Homer's disappointment. Afterwards, the Simpsons visit a jazz club to hear Bleeding Gums Murphy sing a number written by Lisa.


A video camera is being pointed at a bearded man who is wearing glasses. Some other people stand in the background.
The idea for "Moaning Lisa" was suggested by James L. Brooks.

The idea for "Moaning Lisa" was suggested by The Simpsons producer James L. Brooks. He wanted to do an episode where Lisa was sad but she did not know why.[4] The writers also felt that they had done a lot of "joky" episodes on the show and wanted to try something new that was "really emotional and sweet".[4] The song Lisa sings in this episode later reappeared in expanded form on The Simpsons Sing the Blues CD.[4]

Mr. Largo, Lisa's music teacher, was partly inspired by a music teacher Matt Groening had as a kid.[5] The designs of the boxers in the video game Homer and Bart play were loosely based on Homer and Bart,[4] and the referee in the game was based on a character from Matt Groening's Life in Hell comic strip.[5] Bleeding Gums Murphy was loosely based on the famous blues musician Blind Lemon Jefferson.[4] Ralph Wiggum,[4] Bleeding Gums Murphy, and Jacqueline Bouvier (during Marge's childhood flashback) all make their first appearances on The Simpsons in this episode.[2]


In its original American broadcast, "Moaning Lisa" finished 34th place in the weekly ratings for the week of February 5–February 11, 1990 with a Nielsen rating of 13.8. It was the highest rated show on the Fox Network that week.[6] The authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, said: "Certain scenes of this, the most syrupy of Simpsons episodes, sent viewers raised on the later seasons scurrying to the bathroom. Yes, the final moments may give you goosepimples, and are a world away from the anti-schmaltz normally associated with the series, but there is still much to recommend here. In fact, the Homer-Bart subplot is more successful than the main storyline; Homer's nightmare about their relationship is genuinely disturbing."[2] In a DVD review of the first season, David B. Grelck gave the episode a rating of 2.5/5 and added: "Lisa develops much of her future personality in this episode. The family dynamic is starting to fall into place, as is the relationship between Homer and Lisa."[7]


  1. ^ a b "Moaning Lisa" The Retrieved on August 17, 2008
  2. ^ a b c d e Moaning Lisa Retrieved on August 17, 2008
  3. ^ Richmond, Ray; Antonia Coffman (1997). The Simpsons: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family. Harper Collins Publishers. pp. 23. ISBN 0-00063-8898-1.  
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Jean, Al. (2001). The Simpsons The Complete First Season DVD commentary for the episode "Moaning Lisa". [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.  
  5. ^ a b Groening, Matt. (2001). The Simpsons The Complete First Season DVD commentary for the episode "Moaning Lisa". [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.  
  6. ^ De Atley, Richard (February 16, 1990). "'Blind Faith' and 'Funniest Home Videos' are in Nielsen Top 10". St. Petersburg Times. p. 7D.  
  7. ^ Grelck, David B (2003). "The Simpsons: The Complete First Season". WDBG Productions. Retrieved 2008-01-14.  

External links

Simple English

"Moaning Lisa" is the sixth episode of The Simpsons' first season, and first started February 11, 1990. The episode was written by Al Jean and Mike Reiss, and was directed by Wes Archer. Ron Taylor guest stars in the episode as "Bleeding Gums Murphy". In this episode, Lisa deals with depression and she try's to sublimate it by playing her saxophone. It got good reviews from television judges.

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