The latest episode of The Simpsons, Lisa The Boy Scout, follows the traditions of the likes of Barthood, Brick Like Me, A Serious Flanders, Woo-hoo Dunnit?, Thanksgiving of Horror, and The Great Phatsby. If you don't know what any of those are, I probably don't care too much about your opinions on the episode, nor The Simpsons in general. Those are all relatively modern episodes wherein the show has looked at its own stale formula and tried something new. The internet is full of people who no longer watch The Simpsons explaining why The Simpsons is no longer any good and hey, broken clocks. Occasionally The Simpsons produces a dud. It's way off the pace of the Golden Age, but then so is pretty much every comedy on television. There are arguments and debates swirling around Lisa The Boy Scout, but the way it has managed to capture the public conversation once more is further proof that the show is still going strong.

The episode starts out like any regular episode. Bart joins the boy scouts, so does Lisa, who is initially better than him. It's a classic set-up, especially these days as the show increasingly makes Lisa the villain. However, shortly after the opening scene, the show is 'hacked' by two internet vandals holding deleted clips of the show hostage. Throughout the episode they reveal these clips, and cancelled episode ideas, as if to prove that the show is out of ideas and needs to be cancelled. In a nice piece of meta irony, the existence of these hackers proves the opposite.

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It's not an entirely new idea, but it is a new take on it. Community once did a clip show consisting of 'clips' that had never been aired. In the show's reality, the cast were reminiscing as they would in the structure of a clip show, but to the audience, this was new material. These were still canon clips, almost like a behind the scenes look at what the characters were up to when there wasn't a specific story for viewers to watch. In The Simpsons, however, there is some debate over whether or not the episode is canon. Let me clear that up - it was not.

The most popular 'reveal' seems to be that Martin is not a schoolboy, but is an undercover cop. It's a fun and silly story to explore in this format, but easily 'disproven' for anyone who believes. We have seen Martin's house, his parents, we have seen him outside of school all alone and still very clearly Martin Prince. We have even seen the aftermath of his death after he was mistakenly believed to have been killed while out riding his bike. It's just a joke. It's a funny one! But a joke nonetheless. It's no more canon than Kang and Kodos or the narrative of Lisa's Wedding.

You don't even need to look at Martin's role in the show to understand this episode is not canon. Another one of the plot points is that Lenny Leonard is not real. It's a near-criminal lack of media literacy to watch The Simpsons take a huge swing to reinvent itself and only argue about whether or not it is 'real'. It's a symptom of the Ending Explained, Cinema Sins, Neil deGrasse Tyson Debunks Top Gun sphere of media criticism we find ourselves in.

As for the episode serving as evidence the show is out of ideas, it seems to prove the opposite. Rather than regurgitate old plots of Marge and Homer having marital struggles, Lisa The Boy Scout is an innovative risk taker that proves the show still has a place. Where once it was timeless, the show has struggled in its attempt to stay up to the minute and referential. With Lisa The Boy Scout though, it looks inward and becomes meta, exploring the show's habit of predictions and indulging fan theories. My only complaint is that the episode makes a major mistake on lore, and boy I sure hope somebody got fired for that blunder.

When Homer awakes from his coma and is told by Lisa that all episodes of The Simpsons were coma dreams. However, she claims the coma was caused by the fall down Springfield Gorge, not the Duff Beer explosion that features in the popular fan theory. I'm choking on my own rage here! Still, maybe I can rest in the knowledge that it's not real. None of it is. Just enjoy it while it's here, and stop wishing for its death.

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