Free-Range Kids

Free-Range Marge: Simpsons Season Finale Tackles Unsupervised Kids in Parks

'A mother at the park saw something she disapproved of and, luckily for your son, she overreacted.'


Screenshot via Fox / Youtube

A beloved cultural institution made a solid contribution to the Free-Range Kids movement: yes, I'm talking about The Simpsons. 

Here is a synopsis of Sunday night's season finale. According to The A.V. Club:

In the end of "Orange Is The New Yellow," The Simpsons' 27th season finale, there's a prison riot and a tornado. Marge is in the cooler because Martin's overzealous mother spotted Bart playing—non-destructively even—in the park without parental supervision.

Critic Dennis Perkins goes on to write that:

There's a satirical edge to the whole "overprotected children" angle that clearly engaged the writers room a bit (the episode is the first credited to Futurama vet Eric Horsted).

Kudos, Eric! Best line of the night seems to have been this:

"A mother at the park saw something she disapproved of and, luckily for your son, she overreacted."

But also maybe these:

Lisa, watching the judge sentence Marge to prison: "This is Kafka-esque!" Judge: "I've got my eye on you." Lisa: "Now it's Orwellian!"

I wish Lisa was my real-life friend. 

Anyway, clearly the whole plot harkens back not just to the Meitivs but even moreso to the story of Debra Harrell, the South Carolina single mom who let her 9-year-old daughter play in a popular park and ended up in jail, thanks to an overreacting onlooker.

When I remember Harrell's police interrogation, which was videotaped, I fume (just like a real cartoon!).  And I grow ever more appreciative of The Simpsons for fighting the good fight the way it must be fought. 

Which is with funny writers. And so I'll leave you with one last line. Homer comes to the prison to beg Marge to break out and come home because he's desperate. He can't go to another PTA meeting: "Everyone just asks questions about their own kids!"

Here's to Season 28.