The Simpsons

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Release date: November 06, 1994
Directed by: Susie Dietter
Written by: Jonathan Collier
Produced by: Joseph A. Boucher, Jonathan Collier, Greg Daniels...
Episodes: Season 6 Episode 7
Running time: 30 minutes

Jessica Lovejoy is the sweet, angelic daughter of the local vicar. But Bart sees another side of her, a malevolent and mischievous girl out for attention. Exactly the qualities that make him fall madly in love with Jessica, who in return knows how to play with Bart for her own benefit and enjoyment.

Dan Castellaneta (Homer Simpson, Man at Lighthouse, Groundskeeper Willie, Grampa), Julie Kavner (Marge Simpson), Nancy Cartwright (Bart Simpson, Nelson Muntz, Ralph Wiggum), Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson), Hank Azaria (Schlomo’s Dad, Captain McCallister, Glue Man #2, Boy Who Works at the Library, Moe Szyslak), Harry Shearer (Reverand Lovejoy, First Glue Man, Jasper, Principal Skinner, Dr. Hibbert), Meryl Streep (Jessica Lovejoy), Pamela Hayden (Milhouse Van Houten, Sunday School Teacher), Maggie Roswell (Luann Van Houten, Helen Lovejoy)

“Bart’s Girlfriend” was written by Jonathan Collier and directed by Susie Dietter. David Mirkin, who was show runner at the time, originally had the idea of Bart having a girlfriend that was more evil than he was. Mirkin gave the idea to Collier to write it with the help of the show’s executive producer, James L. Brooks. Collier said later that he thought it was a case of Brooks coming up with good ideas and him “giggling insequentially”. The idea for the ending of the episode was to have none of the characters learn anything from the experience. Meryl Streep was called in to do the voice of Jessica. Nancy Cartwright, who provides the voice of Bart Simpson on the show, was a huge fan of Streep and she assumed that Streep would record her lines individually, but all of their recordings were done together. Streep showed up alone with no entourage at the Village Recorder in West Los Angeles, where she recorded her parts with Cartwright. Streep was continually doing many different versions of her lines. Mirkin felt she was easy to work with because she was versatile and keen to do a lot of different things, and as Mirkin expressed it, “easily evil”. Cartwright said in an interview with The Pantagraph that she really wanted Streep’s autograph, but was afraid to ask for it. After the recording session, Streep tapped Cartwright on the shoulder, and said her kids were big The Simpsons fans and that she would be in “big trouble” if she did not get Cartwright’s autograph.

Since airing, the episode has received many positive reviews from fans and television critics, and Entertainment Weekly named Meryl Streep’s role as one of the best guest appearances on The Simpsons. According to an interview with the New York Times in 1994, “Meryl Streep says she has finally accepted a role that impresses her children: the voice of Bart’s new girlfriend in “The Simpsons.” “It’s given me more credibility in my home than anything I’ve ever done,” she said of the cartoon project. “Now, as far as they’re concerned, I can do no wrong.” Besides this episode, Meryl has been mentioned quite a few times in the Simpsons world – in the episode “A Streetcar named Marge”, where a pageant is sponsored by Meryl Streep’s (fictional) perfume Versatility – “Smell Like Streep, For Cheap”‘. A reference to “A Cry in the Dark” was made in the episode “Bart vs. Australia,” where Bart says “Hey, I think I hear a dingo eatin’ your baby.”