The Simpsons

Season 2 Episode 19

Lisa's Substitute

Aired Sunday 8:00 PM Apr 25, 1991 on FOX

Episode Fan Reviews (17)

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out of 10
302 votes
  • Still... Lisa doesn't know the losses she will have to endure within a short time period

    Before I approach any review of the Simpsons episode I always ask myself 'what do the Simpsons mean to me?' this is the kind of question personal to each and every The Simpsons fan. The Simpsons to me are way more than a TV show it is an obsession: the games, the comic, the merchandise. When I was about 8 The Simpsons was, to me, a mixture of the comics, the top trumps cards and of course the TV show. The Simpsons are, and always has been, a huge part of my life. One of the scenes that I remember so clearly from youth (before I began watching through season 2 again) was the scene in Lisa's Substitute in which Lisa calls Homer a 'baboon'. Both funny and full of heart, this line always makes my family, including myself, laugh. It is one of the most real lines in the show and it really comes across as something an 8-year-old would say when upset. This realistic feel is something The Simpsons lacks now

    The story is predominately focused on the goings on at Springfield Elementary, which personally I feel is one of the richest elements of the show, in the A plot Lisa's class gets a substitute teacher called Mr. Bergstrom and in the B plot, Bart's class have an election for class president. Firstly I feel the A plot is one of the richest and emotional of any The Simpsons Episode with the B plot saving the episode from being too dull and sentimental.

    Mr. Bergstrom comes across as a character designed to contrast Homer's lack of fatherhood. He is an ideal role model, which Lisa definitely looks up to. This is a very important element of the show and something the Simpsons does so well demonstrate the complexities of Father-Daughter relationships. The episode is full of the richest, real and important sequences in the history of the show and I think epitomizes the early seasons.

    The B plot is a very curious thing. The class election is in theory just an extended joke with the punch line being that no one has voted but it is not nearly as drab and pointless as that. I think that the B plot provides an important balance for the episode saving it from an over sentimentality that would feel over the top.

    Overall it is a memorable episode full of heart and one of my favorites in the history of the show. 5/5.
  • Not bad


    With Miss Hoover out sick, an influential substitute teacher takes over for Lisa's class. Meanwhile, Bart runs for class president against Martin Prince.

    Overall, a perfect episode that deserves a ten out of ten from me.

    10 OUT OF 10


  • this was a good ep

    in this ep of the simpsons lisas class is getting a subitute and this new teacher of lisas makes her feal special like a person she can connect with it was a really good lisa ep and bart in this ep he is tring to be martin as class president. and lisa is connecting well with the teacher by sharing poetry and reading and then she comes into school the next day and she finds that her teacher is back and goes back the way things are making lisa ano it all and other things . i really liked this ep it was really good
  • Good!

    Seasons one and two of the Simpsons were more introductory seasons then the others, obviously because they were the first two years of such a soon-to-be popular show. One of those seasons' best episodes in Lisa's Substitute. Why is this such a good episode?

    Lisa's class gets a new substitute teacher when Miss Hoover gets sick. The sub's name is Mr. Bergstrom, and he is a very cool, hip teacher, that Lisa eventually gets a crush on {in some ways}. Lisa wants to spend time with Mr. Bergstrom and him, Homer and Lisa go to a museum where Homer embarrasses Lisa. He gets told off by Bergstrom. Lisa likes him more and wants to invite him over to dinner- little does she know, Miss Hoover is back and Bergstrom is leaving, forever. This breaks her heart, as she goes to the train tracks to say a tearful goodbye to her sub.

    Bart's sub plot is Bart running for class president, and it seems like he is going to win because of his promises, but he realizes that only a mere 2/3 people in the class voted, all for his competitor, Martin.

    Bart is sad because he lost, Lisa is sad because of Bergstrom. When Homer shows no signs of caring, Lisa calls him a baboon, and cries, leaving to her room. Homer comes in and makes things right, tells Bart how it would be bad to be class president, and even helps Maggie sleep. Homer proclaims he is a good dad. The end.

    Such a good episode. It has humor {SEX! Now that I've gotten your attention, vote Bart}, good story, and the train tracks scene is probably their best serious moment, IMO, that left a legacy {You Are Lisa Simpson}. I think this is a good episode for those who want to watch an episode with some emotion and not just all humor. Of all the characters they have been bringing back In recent years, I sincerely hope they don't bring back Bergstrom, because this is such a good episode, bringing him back could kill his character.
  • In this episode, Lisa's teacher, Ms. Hoover, becomes ill, and requires a substitute teacher. That substitute is Mr. Bergstrom, a kind and caring man who shows Lisa that she is a truly special person. Meanwhile, Bart runs for class president.

    "Lisa's Substitute" is a delightful and truly underrated episode that shows the contrasting lives of the two oldest Simpsons children, and has both of them, in the end, learning a valuable life lesson. This episode consists of one major plotline, showing Lisa's experiences with an illuminating substitute teacher named Mr. Bergstrom, and a smaller subplot, showing Bart running for class president. The Bart subplot comprises much of the comic relief of this episode.

    In this particular subplot, we see Bart running versus Martin Prince - the class genius - for the coveted title of class president. Because of his ebullient attitude and increasing popularity, Bart feels that he is surely going to win the title of class president, much to the dismay of his teacher, Ms. Krabappel. It turns out however, that during the election, only two people bother to vote: Martin Prince and Wendell. Bart loses the election that was assuredly his. This can be easily compared to the Dewey-Truman election of 1948, in which many people believed Dewey to be a lock for the presidency. The Chicago Tribune even declared on its front page: "Dewey Defeats Truman!", before the official word was ever in. Perhaps Bart learned from this experience that one can never be too sure of a "sure thing". Which just goes to show you, those who do not learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.
    The main plotline of this episode follows Lisa Simpson as her teacher, Ms. Hoover, becomes ill, and requires a substitute teacher, named Mr. Bergstrom. This plot is not merely played out for laughs; instead, it shows just how much heart this comedic show can have. In my opinion, Lisa Simpson is one of the most underrated characters on all of television today; to me, her character represents the undervalued and underappreciated souls in society, a role of which some people - myself included - can truly relate to. In this episode, Mr. Bergstrom is a nurturing and caring teacher, who tries as best as he can to get all of his students - especially Lisa - to reach their full potential. He does not merely teach his students; no, he engages them; he brings books and history to life, incorporates song into the learning process, and makes school and learning better for all of his pupils. Mr. Bergstrom especially touches Lisa's heart; in my opinion, this is because she has never been encouraged to reach her full potential - which, undoubtedly, is very great - by any of the adult figures around her. Mr. Bergstrom make Lisa feel as though she is indeed something special; which, of course, she most certainly is. She not only keenly observes and comments and the world around her, but she also does not fall prey to the many fads and trends around her, rendering her my favorite character on the Simpsons. This episode helps to put Lisa in the spotlight, and show her full potential, rather then putting her in the background, again. One of my favorite scenes in this episode is when Lisa, Homer, and Mr. Bergstrom are at the museum. This scene shows the importance of having a strong male role model in a young girl's life, especially when her father is not up to the task of fulfilling that role. In one of the most heart-wrenching scenes in all of the Simpsons history, Lisa goes to the train station to meet and talk to Mr. Bergstrom before he leaves for his next substitute teaching job. Before he leaves, he hands Lisa a note. When she opens it, it is revealed that the note says: "You are Lisa Simpson".

    "Lisa's Substitute" ends with Homer consoling both of his downtrodden children: Bart is sad because he lost the election that he was sure to lose; and Lisa was upset because Mr. Bergstrom had left, possibly for forever. Even though Homer and Lisa had just had a large fight that consisted of Lisa calling her father a baboon, Homer puts that aside to console his daughter and be there for her when she needed him most. This moment truly shows that Homer is not such a bad parent all the time, and has his good moments as well.
    This episode is truly great not just for the laughs it provides with Bart's class president subplot, but also with many of the great life lessons it provides. In addition to the ones mentioned in my review above, "Lisa's Substitute" does a great job of spelling out a few more invaluable life lessons. One such lesson is the importance of not caring what other people think. This can be seen in the scene where some of Mr. Bergstrom's lesser students draw a mean-spirited picture of him, and calling him names. Instead of being hurt by this cruel endeavor, Mr. Bergstrom laughs it off. This lesson also relays the message that it is truly not the worst thing in the world if you do not fit in; you just need to remember who you are (I.e., "You are Lisa Simpson), and stay true to yourself. "Lisa's Substitute" also shows how much impact a truly great teacher can make on your life. Mr. Bergstrom, a truly great teacher, showed Lisa just how wonderful a person she is, and helped her to belief in herself, even when nobody else does. This episode truly touched my heart, and I sincerely hope that it touched yours as well.

    Some may argue that since this episode is not brimming with humor and jokes, that it is not worth watching. I however, could not disagree more; I find that several of my favorite Simpsons episodes are more serious ones that deal with real problems that face real families in today's society. This wonderful episode simply furthers my opinion that a great show like the Simpsons does not need to be stuffed with laughs in order to make a truly great and unforgettable episode. I recommend "Lisa's Substitute" for anyone looking for not only a few laughs expected of a show like "The Simpsons", but also for a few touching moments that give this show its heart and soul.
  • Good, but not the best episode in season 2

    Miss Hoover comes down with Lyme Disease and Mr Bergstrom (pictured) takes over the class. Lisa develops a crush on this new witty heartwarming teacher. She runs into him at the museum and is embarassed when Homer displays his stupidity. The next day at school, Lisa is shattered to find Miss Hoover has returned, and Mr. Bergstrom has left town. Lisa takes her grief out on Homer and calls him a baboon. Homer decides to act more like the father he should be, and Lisa apologises. A good Lisa episode. Little did we know that this would be the first of many.. Anyways good, but not the best episode in season 2.
  • This episode in probably one of the sweetest Homer and Lisa episodes ever made

    This episode is quite the sweet little episode. It's the first real Homer and Lisa episode in witch their differences clash but in the long still love each other. It was done so well that it made me start to crave for more. Homer and Lisa episodes are really my favorite kind of Simpson episodes. I especially like the end when Homer and Lisa make up; Homer makes Bart feel better about losing the election, and helps Maggie go to sleep. This episode really showed just how well Homer and Lisa can get along and how well Yeardley Smith and Dan Castellaneta work together.
  • One of the series's best.

    In "Lisa's Substitute", Ms. Hoover is out sick, and she gets a substitute named Mr. Bergstrom. Lisa instantly becomes fascinated with him. Meanwhile, Bart goes up against Martin Prince for class president. This episode, first and foremost, proves that you don't need jokes to make a good episode - or fantastic episode, in this case. "Lisa's Substitute" if you ask me is the first of its type ( What type that is, I don't know ) but that's a good thing. In the end, Mr. Bergstrom leaves via train to go to teach at another school and Lisa goes back to being a student in the "sick" Ms. Hoover's class.
  • Here's proof that you don't need excessive humor to make a good episode.

    A substitute teacher replaces Ms. Hoover and Lisa is the only one who can relate to him. However, Homer ruins her chance of getting to know her teacher better so he is invited to dinner. To Lisa's devastation though, he has left for good simply because he has to and a very moving scene follows where they must part forever. The "b" story was a good jab at those people who say they are political and yet don't care to vote. Many argue that this episode stinks because there's little humor in it, but why should that be the only factor in determining how good an episode is? Both stories were well told and the writers made it easy for us to connect to the characters.

    Grade: A-
  • Heartwrenching.

    Truly one of my favorite episodes -- not because it's particularly funny, though it has it's moments -- but because as someone who deeply appreciates the character of Lisa and even identifies with her somewhat, it was this episode that truly made me understand her. I cannot overestimate the emotional effect this episode has on me; there are very few things that make me cry harder. Mr. Bergstrom was a one-in-a-million, truly good human being passing through the town of Springfield, and the fact that Lisa met him, loved him, appreciated him, and then lost him -- I dare you to not be affected by this. "You are Lisa Simpson"... just a brilliant, memorable moment. An absolute classic.
  • Love it.

    This episode is a classic. Lisa's teacher Ms. Elizabeth Hoover is out sick, only to be substituted for by a man Lisa soon grows overly fond of. Mr. Bergstrom is a very refreshing character, much better than what Ms. Hoover's turned out to be throughout the course of the series. The note he gives Lisa at the end of the episode, makes for a cute, heartwarming ending. You'll notice it makes a second appearance in Smart and Smarter in season 15. Dustin Hoffman was great in this episode, and I find it to be a very touching one. It's a shame that it's not replayed enough, because I recall only seeing it twice. I'd say it'd be worth buying the second season for alone, but all the other episodes from the season are great as well, so there's no worry there. It's a great episode, see it.
  • Lisa finds true love.

    Lisa finally finds true love in this episode! But sadly, her lover couldn't stick around longer. But overall, this is an excellent episode with some once again, more funny moments! I like it when Lisa got mad at Homer for talking about Mr. Bergstrom and calls him a baboon. To me, that is the funniest part of the whole episode. I was cracking up when I heard that part. This episode is so tight!
  • Lisa develops a crush on the substitue teacher, Mr. Bergstrom.

    Lisa's teacher, Miss Hoover, is stricken with Lyme disease, and Mr. Bergstrom, a substitue teacher takes her place. Lisa is smitten with the smart man, who contrasts so favorable; it seems, with her own father. Meanwhile Bart, desides to run for class president where he is expected to easily triumph over class brain Martin Prince. When Lisa comes to school one day, she is shocked to find out that Miss Hover has recovered and Mr. Bergstrom is gone. Meanwhile, Bart celebrates his victory, only to realize that neither he or his friends bothered to vote, and Martin has won. Lisa tracks Mr. Bergstrom down to the train station, where he is leaving for another gig. But before he does, he hands Lisa a note that says "You are Lisa Simpson." That night Homer cheers up a disconsolate Bart and Lisa, showing he's not such a bad dad after all.
  • Lisa's Substitute

    This is another episode that focuses on Lisa. Lisa has a crush on her substitute teacher Mr Bergstrom (Dustin Hoffman) while Bart is running for class president but in the end they both suffered. Lisa's teacher left while Bart lost to Martin but Homer solves everything and that the end.
  • More serious episode

    Lisa really likes her substitute teacher Mr Bergstrom, because he understands her unlike Homer.

    I really felt for Lisa when the father figure she always wanted went off into the distance by train. But it was a touching ending when Homer not only fixed everything up with his other kids too. Bart was running for school president and he lost because he and most of the rest of his class couldn't be bothered to vote. Maggie was just crying.

    Dustin Hoffman played Mr Bergstrom and I think he had the perfect understanding voice for that role.

    It was out of character, but I still really enjoyed it.
  • Lisa cried... Awwww!!!

    I almost cried in this episode. Lisa bonds with a sub teacher who likes her, and when he has to go, she cries! It's so sad and very cute, and was too sad for a Simpsons episode in my opinion, and to be honest it wasn't to good. It has a lovely ending though. Still good but just too much of a tearjerker. Poor Lisa, I knew how she felt when Mr. Bergstrom had to go and leave her forever and Lisa as planning to invite him over for dinner. And I was sorry fro Bart, losing the president contest, but that isn't the main thing. I still liked this, don't get me wrong, I was just sad for Lisa and felt for her. It was okay though, and Homer does some great parenting in the end. 6.6/10.
  • Lisa's crush on her substitute teacher distances her and homer

    I didn't particularly like this episode but there were a few good homerisms and the B story of Bart running for class president was funny but the main storyline didn't really have much humour in it so that brings my rating down. however it does show lisa's personality and emotions throughout this episode and homer is actually a good parent at the end which is a big change from normal. however, the episode is too plain with a few exceptions, for instance the museum scene where homer realises that he doesn't have to pay admission so he tells bergstrom that he shouldn't either. this definitely isn't among my favourite episodes.