It's Marge's birthday, and Homer treads thin ice in his marriage after he selfishly buys a gift for himself to give Marge.
Homer Simpson, Grampa Simpson, Barney Gumble, Krusty the Clown, Groundskeeper Willie, and others
Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, Waylon Smithers, Kent Brockman, and others
Marge Simpson, Patty Bouvier, and Selma Bouvier
Bart Simpson, Nelson Muntz, Ralph Wiggum, Todd Flanders, and others
Maude Flanders, Helen Lovejoy, Miss Hoover, and others
The Simpson family celebrates Marge's birthday at a restaurant called The Singing Sirloin: "Home of Ballads and Salads." The logo is a singing steak with a microphone a la a young Frank Sinatra.
The stores Homer passes in the mall include: International House of Answering Machines, The Jerky Hut, The Ear Piercery, Griddles 'N Such, Fancy Lingerie, and The Caramel Corn Warehouse.
Jacques lives on Fiesta Terrace.
Marge's shoe size is 13AA.
In Marge's daydream fantasy, one of the "bowling" trophies Jacques has on display at his apartment has a heart on it.
In this episode the Bowl-a-rama is called Barney's Bowl-a-rama but in a later episode doesn't Barney say that it is owned by his uncle (who isn't called Barney.)
As Homer carries Marge to the backseat of his car, a gauge behind Lenny moves from "Okay" to "Danger".
When Jacques drops Marge home, the moon behind them looks like a bowling ball.
At the mall, Homer parks his car in a spot marked "No Parking" and "Do Not Park Here".
Notice the sign at the Bowl-A-Rama, helpfully stating that "You can't bowl without a lane."
This episode is the first to feature the new Bowl-A-Rama after the first one was burned to a crisp in episode 1-6 "Moaning Lisa."
Goof: When Marge is on the phone with her sisters, her necklace is white. Then they cut to Patty and Selma, and then back to Marge. Marge's necklace is now its normal color.
Goof: When Homer is at lunch with Lenny, his sandwich first looks to have lettuce inside. In the next few frames, it looks like peanut butter and jelly. Then, it looks like a meaty sandwich.
Goof: When Marge sees Jacques' bowling ball, it says "Brunswick." Later his ball says "Jaques." (Spelled incorrectly)
Jacques loses his French accent when shouting for onion rings.
(Bart and Lisa argue about which birthday present Marge likes better.)
Bart: Told ya she likes mine better.
Lisa: Oh, brother!
Homer: Hold on. Hold on, now. Your mother hasn't opened my present yet.
(Homer signals the waiters to sing "Happy Birthday" to Marge.)
Waiters: (Singing in unison.)
Happy birthday to you.
Happy birthday to you.
Happy 34th birthday, Mrs. Homer Simpson.
Happy birthday to you.
(Homer hands Marge her present across the table and a bowling ball falls out of the bottom and onto the birthday cake.)
Homer: Oh. Don't worry. This frosting will come right off. Beauty, isn't she?
(Marge bowls a strike with Jacques' instruction)
Marge: You're a very good teacher.
Jacques: Yes, I am a very good teacher, and I can teach you everything. I can tell you what the little arrows on the wood floor mean,--
Jacques: --which frame is the beer frame. I bet you don't know how to make a five-seven-ten split. Do you, Marge?
Marge: Hmmm, no.
Jacques: Well, first of all, you yell, "The eight-pin is a cop!"
(Marge is upset with Homer about her birthday gift.)
Marge: You bought that bowling ball for you, not for me.
Homer: What? No!
Marge: The holes were drilled for your fingers.
Homer: Well, I wanted to surprise you. I couldn't very well chop your hand off and bring it to the store, could I?
Marge: You never intended for me to use that ball.
Homer: Well, if that's how you feel, I'll take it back.
Marge: You can't take it back! You had your name engraved on it!
Homer: So you'd know it was from me!
Marge: Homer, I'm keeping the ball...for myself!
Homer: What? But you don't know how to bowl. Whoops!
Marge: I'm keeping it, and I'm going to use it. Thank you for the present, Homer.
(Marge clicks off the light and goes to bed.)
(Marge has a daydream fantasy in which she is alone with Jacques at his apartment.)
Marge: You certainly have a lot of bowling trophies.
Jacques: (Laughs) I like you so much. They're not for bowling, Marge. You're so naïve. They're for lovemaking!
(Jacques drops Marge off at her house after a bowling session.)
Jacques: Here we are.
Marge: You didn't have to drop me off.
Jacques: But I wanted to.
(Jacques grabs Marge's hand and stares into her eyes.)
Jacques: Marge, do you know how beautiful you look in the moonlight?
Marge: Oh, Jacques. I'm a married woman.
Jacques: I know. I know. My mind says, "Stop," but my heart and my hips cry, "Proceed."
Marge: (Groans nervously)
Jacques: Marge, darling, I want to see you tomorrow. Not at Barney's Bowlarama. Away from the thunderous folly of clattering pins. Meet me tomorrow for brunch.
Marge: What's brunch?
Jacques: You'll love it. It's not quite breakfast, it's not quite lunch, but it comes with a slice of cantaloupe at the end. You don't get completely what you would at breakfast, but you get a good meal.
Marge: I don't think so.
Jacques: Marge, darling, there are ten pins in my heart. You've knocked over eight. Won't you please pick up that spare?
Marge: Mm. Mm. All right!
(Homer provides dinner for the kids while Marge is bowling.)
Homer: Now this is living, eh, kids? Hot pizza--the food of kings!
Lisa: Don't be scared, Dad. It's not so hard takin' care of us.
Homer: (Laughs) Lisa, I'm not scared. I think it's a great chance to spend some time with you kids. Your mother always gets to be alone with you, and now it's my turn.
(Everyone silently eats some pizza.)
Homer: Does the time always drag like this?
(Marge accidentally throws her bowling ball into the adjacent lane, which happens to be Jacques' lane.)
Marge: I'm--I'm awfully sorry.
Jacques: Entirely my fault. It is nice to meet you, (Picks up Marge's ball and looks at it.) Homer.
Marge: Oh, no, no. Homer is my...ball's name. I'm Marge.
(At the power plant everyone claps and cheers when Marge comes to visit Homer, and he carries her in his arms out to the parking lot.)
Lenny: Hey, way to go, Homer. Way to go!
Co-worker: Hey, what'll I tell the boss?
Homer: Tell him I'm going to the backseat of my car with the woman I love, and I won't be back for ten minutes!
(Before leaving for work, Homer tries to connect with Marge, who seems distant.)
Homer: Marge, may I speak to you?
Homer: You know, I've been thinking. Everyone makes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but usually the jelly drips out over the sides and the guy's hands get all sticky. But your jelly stays right in the middle where it's supposed to. I don't know how you do it. You just got a gift, I guess. I've always thought so. I just never mentioned it, but it's time you knew how I feel. I don't believe in keeping feelings bottled up. (Silent pause) Good-bye, my wife.
(Helen Lovejoy approaches Marge and Jacques' table as they eat brunch.)
Helen: Marge? Marge Simpson. You remember me, don't you? I'm Helen Lovejoy, the gossipy wife of the minister.
Marge: Oh, yes. Hello, Helen.
Helen: Well, I had just finished eating and was about to leave, when I looked over this way and said to myself, "Why, isn't that Marge Simpson over there, having brunch with a man who isn't her husband?" (Chuckles) And I just had to come over and say hello.
Marge: We're, um--
Helen: Oh, don't squirm on my account.
(More from the bowling alley.)
Jacques: Your fingers are so slender, so feminine. They're far too tapered for the ball you are using. You need something lighter. More delicate. Here. Use my ball.
Marge: Hmm. No. No, thank you, Mr., um, (Looks at Jacques' bowling ball.) Brunswick.
Jacques: Call me Jacques.
Marge: Hmm. I'll just use my ball.
Jacques: As you wish. Many people have senseless attachments to heavy, clumsy things, such as this Homer of yours.
(At Marge's birthday party, Patty and Selma comment on Homer.)
Patty: Look at him wolf down that gristle.
Selma: Mm-hmm. It's an accident waiting to happen.
Patty: Do you know the Heimlich maneuver?
(They both chuckle and laugh.)
(Bart senses there is something wrong between Homer and Marge.)
Bart: Look, Dad. I don't know what's going on, but once you gave me some advice that might help.
Homer: I gave you advice? Get outta here.
Bart: Yeah, you did. You told me when something's bothering you and you're too damn stupid to know what to do, just keep your fool mouth shut. At least that way, you won't make things worse.
Homer: Hmm. Good advice.
Lisa: Bart, I read about what happens to kids whose parents no longer love and cherish each other. They go through eight separate stages. Right now, I'm in Stage three, fear. You're in Stage two, denial.
Bart: No, I'm not.
Lisa: Yes, you are!
Bart: No, I'm not!
Lisa: Yes, you are!
Bart: I'm not! I'm not! Am not!
Lisa: I stand corrected.
(Jacques and Marge are on their hands and knees on a bowling lane.)
Jacques: First, you must get to know your lane. Feel the slickness. Feel the sanity finish.
(Marge feels the bowling lane.)
Jacques: Caress it. Experience it. Quite smooth, isn't it, Marge?
Marge: Ooh, very smooth.
Marge: Yes, very.
Jacques: Yes. You could eat off of it.
Jacques: You hungry?
Jacques: (Shouting) Four onion rings!
(Marge visits a bowling alley for the first time.)
Marge: Excuse me.
(Marge shows her bowling ball to the bowling clerk.)
Marge: Where do I throw this?
(The bowling clerk points to a lane.)
Bowling Clerk: Over there.
Marge: Thank you.
(Marge starts to walk away from the counter.)
Bowling Clerk: Hey, hey, wait a minute! You're gonna need a lane.
Marge: No, thanks. I'm just here out of spite.
Bowling Clerk: Can't bowl without a lane.
Marge: Well, all right.
(The bowling clerk hands Marge a score card.)
Bowling Clerk: Okay, here you go. You keep score on this. What size shoes you wear?
Marge: Never you mind!
Bowling Clerk: You can't wear street shoes on the lanes. You gotta wear bowling shoes. What size, please?
Marge: 13 double "A."
Bowling Clerk: 13 double "A"? (Whistles) This is the closest I've got. A nine and a fifteen.
Marge: Thank you. Hmm.
(The kids surprise Marge with breakfast in bed and Homer tries to cover up the fact that he forgot Marge's birthday.)
Homer: (Nudges Marge) You really thought I forgot, didn't you?
Bart: Oh, right. What did you get her, Dad.
Lisa: Yeah, what did you get.
(Homer climbs out of bed and casually changes out of his pajamas and into some clothes.)
Homer: Uh...well...a very... thoughtful gift. But it's a surprise. (Stretches and yawns) You know it's such a beautiful morning. I think I'll take a little stroll around the block.
(Homer can be heard quickly running downstairs, out to his car, and peeling out of the driveway.)
Lisa: I think he forgot, Mom.
Jacques: Marge, my darling, I want you to meet with me again. Marge: That doesn't shock me. Jacques: Away from prying eyes, away from the Helens of the world...at my apartment--the Fiesta Terrace. (Marge gasps and faints.)
The credits are short (no chalkboard or couch gag) because, according to the DVD commentary, the episode ran long due to Albert Brooks' terrific ad-libs. (Albert created the lines defining "brunch" and was very proud of that.)
In the first draft of this episode, Marge took tennis lessons from a tennis pro named Bjorn and the episode was titled "Bjorn to be Wild". The idea was changed to better fit the subplot involving Homer buying Marge a bowling ball for her birthday. Now she was being seduced by a suave bowling instructor named Jacques. The title was changed to "Jacques to be Wild", but realizing that that title didn't make sense, it was settled on "Life on the Fast Lane".
This episode won the Emmy for "Outstanding Animated Program" (For programming one hour or less.) at the 1990 Emmy award ceremony.
There are several outtakes from Albert Brooks as Jacques on the Season 1 DVD. It shows how much of his material was improvised.
In 2006 this episode was ranked #2 in Matt Groening's list of top 10 episodes of all time.
First Appearance: Lenny, Helen Lovejoy, Jacques
A "Dear Abby" letter mirrored this episode of The Simpsons. The infamous "Dear Abby" letter was withdrawn from syndication (before its scheduled March 15 run date) after editors discovered the hoax. But not after it fooled Jeanne Phillips, who writes the advice for the column. An alert newspaper editor discovered the similarities to the plot of this episode and contacted "Dear Abby's" syndicator, United Press Syndicate.
This episode is often listed as "Jacques To Be Wild," and is more often referred to by that title. The reason behind this title is because it was formally known as "Bjorn To Be Wild." The bowler who tries to win over Marge was supposed to be named Bjorn and be Swedish, but Albert Brooks thought French would be funnier.
Blackboard Joke: None
Couch Gag: None
In the Hall of the Mountain King
When Homer enters the kitchen after buying Marge's present, he is whistling "In the Hall of the Mountain King" by Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg.
Life in the Fast Lane
The title of this episode, "Life On The Fast Lane," is a take on the title of a song by The Eagles called "Life in the Fast Lane."
The Gay Divorcee
The dance sequence between Marge and Jacques at Jacques' apartment is taken directly from the 1934 film, The Gay Divorcee.
An Officer and a Gentleman
The episode's final scene--where Homer happily carries Marge out of the power plant, to cheering co-workers--is a parody of the final scene of the 1982 film, An Officer and a Gentleman.
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