An Open Letter to Marge Simpson

Dear Mrs. Simpson,

You are my longest surviving TV mother. We share the same passions: writing, painting, cooking . . . I wanted a mother like you when I was a child. You are caring and sweet, willing to participate in bake sales and spend all night working on a school project. Yet as I got older, I began to see the idealistic image of your life dissolve before my eyes. Any time you did something outside your family—re: pursing one of your passions—things would go awry. Your value seemed to be placed entirely on being a mother or your sex appeal.  You’re a secondary character in your OWN life. As an adult, this scares me.

So many sitcom women before (and probably after) you have been in your shoes: supporting a partner that doesn’t appreciate them, spending their days maintaining a household other people use as the setting for their stories—but something sets you apart, Mrs. Simpson, which is the fact that year after year, I’ve watched you fall more and more into complacency. It terrifies me, to be honest. Each season you fight so hard for the respect and admiration of your partner and children, but end up back at square one. Each season, you try for success outside of your family life or to be friends with someone in your age group, and this goes haywire in some fashion or another. After a while, it grows tiresome trying to find the entertainment value in your suffering, and I think you have grown tired of being constantly unheard and overshadowed. Yet your only form of protest has become a stereotypical gesture.

You put up with so much in the name of love, and until recently, I could never understand that. You try so hard to please a man that comes home to you in the middle of the night, smelling of booze every single day. A man who is so selfish, taking you completely for granted, as especially highlighted in Season 14, Episode 20 (“Brake My Wife, Please”), where it is actually acknowledged that only one person matters in this relationship:

 

Of course, to quote Homer, this is “white washed” at the end with the occasional grand gesture and a joke about you cleaning up after your own party. While there is no doubt in my mind that Homer loves you, he doesn’t consider you, AT ALL.  Your opinion and your feelings are meaningless to him as you are merely a hollow background character. And worse yet, your show—spanning almost thirty years—is praised for its “real” take on marriage. In a true partnership, should it really be one selfish star absorbing the light and energy from the other person who’s caring for him? The saddest highlight of this ten-year (but feels like forty, am I right?) marriage is Season 15, Episode 7 (“‘Tis the Fifteenth Season”) where you are literally moved to tears by the fact that Homer—after ten-plus years of marriage and countless dinners you’ve made every single night—finally thought of you this singular time and offered you the last of a meal you prepared.

 

“I’ve dreamed of the day you’d say that!” you reply. But I am tired of hollow dreams like that; I am tired of white washing. You deserve better, Mrs. Simpson, and I want you to get it—but most of all, I want you to want it. I want ALL sitcom women to rise up and realize they deserve better than to be constantly cleaning up after others and accepting second-class treatment in the name of love. Real woman and girls need to see YOU, Marge. Need to see you not only want and try for something more but actually GET it this time. To not have to give up on a dream or a career because your husband doesn’t support you or know how to change a diaper. It is time for a new Marge Simpson, one with the courage to not just live in the world but improve it.