The Strong Arms of the Ma
| "The Strong Arms of the Ma"
| Episode Information
"The Strong Arms of the Ma" is the ninth episode of season 14 of The Simpsons and the three-hundredth episode overall. It originally aired on February 2, 2003. The episode was written by Carolyn Omine and directed by Pete Michels. It guest stars Pamela Reed as Ruth Powers.
- "Marge takes up bodybuilding to boost her self-esteem after a mugging, but the family finds they just can't cope with a Marge that can bench-press 500 pounds."
An episode of Eye on Springfield features Rainier Wolfcastle, who has gone bankrupt. As a result, he throws a bankruptcy sale to make some money back, selling off a lot of his possessions. The Simpson family attend the sale and buy a lot of Wolfcastle's items, including a set of weights. After loading the car up, they have no room left for Homer. so he has Wolfcastle take him home whilst Marge drives the family home. On the way back, Maggie needs a diaper change so they stop off at the Kwik-E-Mart to do so. After Apu smells Maggie, he lets Marge use the store's toilet to change Maggie's diaper. As they leave the toilet, a mugger confronts Marge and takes her pearls, leaving Marge incredibly shaken up and panicky.
After the mugging, Marge attempts to go shopping at the Kwik-E-Mart again, but gets too scared and accidentally pepper sprays Ralph before going home again empty handed. As Marge rushes home, she accidentally parks her car on top of the mailman, and then realizes that she's too scared to go out and move the car again, hallucinating the mugger as she tries to leave. Dr. Hibbert then makes a house call and tells Marge that she has agoraphobia, the fear of leaving the house. The family attempt to get Marge's courage to leave back, trying to help her take a few steps out of the house and putting on small acts so she can regain her confidence. During a small act they were putting on, Milhouse played the mugger, which caused Marge to panic and hide in the basement.
Marge refuses to leave the basement, using radios to keep in contact with the family. Eventually, they move the bed down to the basement and eat meals down there. Whilst Marge was bored, she started working out with the weights that Homer bought from Rainier Wolfcastle. This gave her the confidence to actually leave the house, to grab a lemon from the lemon tree in the back yard. Upon realizing that she was no longer scared, Marge ran around town, telling everyone that she was no longer afraid. On this run, she met the mugger again and beat him up, leaving the police to take him away.
Marge got fully into bodybuilding and went to the Springfield Beach where she met up with Ruth Powers again. Marge and Ruth decided to catch up at Let's Hear It for the Soy where Ruth gave Marge Ragin' 'Roids steroids to take so she could enter The Iron Maidens competition. After taking the steroids, Marge becomes stronger than ever and earns second place in the competition, which disappointed her. At Moe's Tavern, Marge thinks that the reason she only came second in the competition was because she's still somewhat womanly. When Marge threatens Moe, the patrons in the bar all attack her to calm her down, with Marge beating them all. Homer then gets Marge to realize what the hormones in the steroids were doing to her and decides to stop, as Moe then tries to burn down his bar to claim the insurance, which Carl then reminds him that he doesn't have. At home, Marge throws the weights in the furnace before taking Homer up to bed.
In the original pitch by Carolyn Omine, Homer was to be the one who got mugged and became agoraphobic, which she pitched as she had an interest in agoraphobia. Al Jean then suggested to make Marge a bodybuilder so they changed it to have her mugged instead. The mugging came across as a serious moment for the show. The Eye on Springfield opening used both old footage from "Flaming Moe's", whilst it also added new footage. The episode was the 300th episode to air, although "Barting Over" was advertised as the 300th episode as Fox wanted the 300th episode to air on a specific day. The show then had fans call up to say that there was a mistake as "The Strong Arms of the Ma" was the 300th episode to air.
Al Jean thought the scene where Marge is mugged had a lot of emotion and it was something the show hadn't seen before. He also thought the Goofy hat was to add something innocent to someone who was scary. He then went on to say that if he was to do the episode again, he wouldn't have made Marge so big and muscly. The scene where Marge hallucinates was drawn with a fish-eye lens effect. Marge was given a white and red football helmet because animator Mark Ervin drew it, and he based it off the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Michels also said that drawing characters lifting weights is a challenge as it's hard to get the perspective of lifting them to look natural. When Bart and Lisa are talking through their teeth, a special mouth chart to work out which way their mouths moved for which letters was used.
- Omine, Carolyn (2011). Commentary for "The Strong Arms of the Ma", in The Simpsons: The Complete Fourteenth Season.
- Jean, Al (2011). Commentary for "The Strong Arms of the Ma", in The Simpsons: The Complete Fourteenth Season.
- Michels, Pete (2011). Commentary for "The Strong Arms of the Ma", in The Simpsons: The Complete Fourteenth Season.
- IMDb - "The Strong Arms of the Ma"
- TV.com - "The Strong Arms of the Ma"