The Simpsons S 7 E 19 A Fish Called Selma - TV Tropes (2024)

The Simpsons S 7 E 19 A Fish Called Selma »


The Simpsons S 7 E 19 A Fish Called Selma - TV Tropes (1)

Original air date: 3/24/1996

Production code: 3F15

When Troy McClure (you may remember him from such Simpsons episodes as "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular" and "Lisa the Vegetarian"!) is sentenced to renew his driver's license after getting pulled over for erratic driving, he meets Selma (who is still looking for a man so she can have a family and not die alone) and decides to marry her to revive his moribund movie career (which fizzled out due to bad project choices and the urban legend that he is sexually attracted to fish, which got him in trouble at the Springfield Aquarium), which Selma has no problem with — until Troy's agent wants Troy and Selma to have a baby.

Incidentally, Vulture did "An Oral History of The Simpsons’ Classic Planet of the Apes Musical"The Simpsons S 7 E 19 A Fish Called Selma - TV Tropes (2) that gets much more than you'd expect out of discussing a two minute long joke.


  • Adaptation Decay: In-universe, whoever did the Planet of the Apes musical was clearly familiar with Planet of the Apes (1968), but did not really care about being faithful.
    • Adaptational Attractiveness or Hotter and Sexier: Dr. Zira is replaced by an attractive nurse ape compared to the matronly scientist she was in the movie.
    • Adaptational Modesty: In this version, Taylor never loses his spacesuit.
    • Adaptational Villainy: The aforementioned Zira replacement is scared of Taylor's ability to talk and requests that Dr. Zaius protect her from him. In the film, Zira was delighted to see Taylor talk and championed his recognition as an intelligent being by the ape society, coming into conflict with the villain Dr. Zaius. Furthermore, the ending can be interpreted as all apes being aware of the Statue of Liberty's existence and apparently involved in hiding it from Taylor as some sick prank on him, rather than just Zaius being aware.

    Taylor: You’ve finally made a monkey...

    Ape chorus: Yes, we finally made a monkey...

    All: YES! You’ve/we finally made a monkey out of me/him!

    • Adapted Out: Presumably happens to Nova, who is not present at the musical's climax. Zira and Cornelius may have been also Adapted Out or changed so much as to be unrecognizable.
    • Bowdlerise: The musical omits the cursing that was present in the 1968 film.

    George Taylor: Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!
    Troy McClure: Get your paws off me, you dirty ape!

    • Adaptational Alternate Ending: Instead of leaving Taylor in despair at the feet of the Statue of Liberty, Dr. Zaius comes to comfort him, and Taylor proclaims that he loves Dr. Zaius.
  • All Musicals Are Adaptations: One of Troy's first new roles is on a Planet of the Apes musical.
  • Artistic License – Animal Care: At the end after breaking up with Troy, Selma tells her iguana Jub Jub that she's going to give him microwaved co*ckroaches as a treat when they get home. It is best for iguanas not to be fed any insects, since they are herbivores and all.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: When Fat Tony starts to explain what he meant when he said Troy "sleeps with the fishes", Louie tells him to stop because "I just ate a whole plate of dingamagoo," which in truth does not exist; it's just Italian-sounding gibberish.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": Impressively, the animators manage to convey this in the performance of whoever was supposed to be playing Dr. Zaius in the musical. He has a tendency to go over-the-top in his body language, like when he drops his jaw after Troy says he couldn't play the piano before. Meanwhile, Troy's performance is more of an In-Universe case of Took the Bad Film Seriously.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • Selma asks Troy what he's currently working on, and he responds that he's been reading a lot of scripts...because it's cheaper than going to the movies.
    • We start a scene with Troy and Selma in a restaurant:

      Troy: [laughing] That's too funny! I can't remember when I've heard a funnier anecdote. [laughing] All right, now you tell one.

    • As Troy and Selma are in the middle of a makeout session, he then pulls away, takes out some breath spray, says "Just a sec" and initially aims the container at his mouth, only to then spray it into hers.
    • When Troy drunkenly tells Homer why he's marrying Selma, Homer stares ahead in what is implied to be shock. Cut to the wedding itself, where upon Reverand Lovejoy saying the infamous line, we cut to the crowd, where the camera focuses on Homer...
  • The Beard: Selma, for Troy, albeit Troy isn't gay, but allegedly sexually attracted to sea life. Troy mentions that if he was gay he wouldn't need to enter into a fake marriage, in a nod to how it was starting to be seen as socially acceptable to be openly gay in Hollywood in the mid-90s.
  • bestial*ty Is Depraved: This episode peppers in an absurd amount of jokes about Troy’s fish fetish, even putting it into the episode's title, without straight up saying it.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: The final line reveals 20th Century Fox is willing to produce Troy's ridiculously outdated-sounding vanity project.
  • Blind Without 'Em: Troy McClure is pulled over for reckless driving. His license requires him to wear glasses, but they make him look like a nerd, so we usually never see him with any.
  • Brutal Honesty: Troy doesn't flinch at all when Selma confronts him about the problem with their marriage.

    Selma: Is this a sham marriage!?

    Troy: Sure, baby. Is that a problemo?

  • By the Lights of Their Eyes: After Homer reveals what Troy told him at the bar, he simply turns off the lights and Marge's eyes, wide open over the surprise, can still be seen, which was lampshaded.

    "Marge, could you close your eyes? I'm trying to sleep."

  • Career Resurrection: In-Universe. Troy starts getting more requests and is about to be cast in a big Hollywood film thanks to dating, and then marrying Selma.
  • Circling Birdies: After bumping his head into Troy's car, Chief Wiggum says that he sees stars, but Troy says, "Nope. Just me."
  • Comically Missing the Point: After Troy's Bait-and-Switch with Selma about the "amusing anecdote", Selma replies she had a date with a movie star.

    Troy: Which one? Is it George Segal? I hear he plays the banjo.

  • Compressed Vice: Troy's career-ruining fetish for marine wildlife comes out of nowhere, and it never comes up again. This may be a Justified Trope, as it's the first (and only) time he's ever had a main role in an episode beyond informercials and promotional videos.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • A lot of the portraits at The Pimento Grove are of actual celebrities who made guest appearances in past episodes.
    • During the wedding, Lovejoy refers to Selma as "Selma Bouvier-Terwilliger-Bouvier", referring to her previous marriage to Sideshow Bob in "Black Widower".
  • Couch Gag: The family are malfunctioning wind-up dolls who waddle their way to the couch (or at least near it).
  • A Day in the Limelight: Troy McClure and Selma are the focus of the whole episode, even giving more information about Troy's life. The Simpsons do appear, but they're pretty much the supporting cast.
  • Disco Dan: Troy is shown to be very out of touch with contemporary styling by depicting him driving a DeLorean DMC12 and living in a Zeerust homeThe Simpsons S 7 E 19 A Fish Called Selma - TV Tropes (4) full of midcentury modern furnishings.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • Troy McClure hasn't acted in twelve years, so he's anxious to accept the offers that his agent says are "pouring in". Except the one from Paramount for "a buddy comedy with Rob Lowe and Hugh Grant". ("Those sick freaks?" he shouts.)
    • Selma ends up marrying Troy, but learns it's just a ploy by him to improve his career. She is convinced to continue the marriage, citing all the perks, until Troy decides to have a baby with Selma. She leaves him, not wanting to bring a child into a loveless marriage.
  • The Fantastic Trope of Wonderous Titles: At the end of the episode, Troy is working on a personal project called: The Contrabulous Fabtraption of Professor Horatio Hufnagel.
  • He Really Can Act: In-Universe. His appearance in Stop The Planet Of The Apes, I Want To Get Off! shows that Troy is in fact a legitimately talented actor. The reason he's considered washed-up has more to do with his poor choices of roles, his addictions, and (obviously) the fish thing.
  • Hospital Hottie: One of the apes in the musical is a buxom female in a nurse's uniform.
  • Hypocritical Humor: When Troy's agent told him Paramount wants him to star in a buddy comedy with Rob Lowe and Hugh Grant. Troy response was that they are some sick freaks. These two were involved in some sexual scandals at the time, (Rob Lowe caught heat for recording a sex tape with a minor and Hugh Grant was caught receiving oral sex in his car on Sunset Boulevard from a prostitute named Divine Brown). The fact that Troy calls them out for being freaks is hypocritical, as Troy has been accused of being sexually attracted to fish.
  • I'm Going to Disney World!: Troy's reaction to the possibility of being McBain's sidekick:

    Hot damn! I'm going to Sea World!

  • I Need a Freaking Drink: When Troy tries to have sex with Selma to conceive a child, he just keeps making roaring noises at the door of their bedroom. Selma wants to break the ice and offers him some wine. He quickly runs to the bed, empties both glasses, and returns to the door to continue with the roaring.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: MacArthur Parker looks like his voice actor, Jeff Goldblum.
  • Literal Metaphor: No, when Fat Tony said Troy was "sleeping with the fishes", he did not mean Troy was dead.
  • Noodle Incident: Troy McClure's unseen fish fetish. Whatever it entails, it has him banned from the aquarium and can be described as him "sleeping with the fishes".
  • Not Even Bothering with an Excuse: When Selma confronts Troy about their sham marriage, he spins it as a good thing because unlike many other sham celebrity marriages, they know where they stand. Being desperate, Selma agrees to go along with the charade because she'll no longer be alone, and she'll get the perks of being a celebrity's wife, up until Troy's agent tells them they need a Trophy Child to keep up the illusion.
  • Obligatory Joke: "Stop the Planet of the Apes, I Want to Get Off", as a Stylistic Suck Show Within a Show is made of this trope, from the title (which is an obligatory joke if one is deeply-immersed enough in theatrical naming conventions) to the enforced ending. Specific jokes:

    Troy McClure: What's wrong with me?

    Dr. Zaius: I think you're crazy!

    Troy McClure: Want a second opinion!

    Dr. Zaius: You're also lazy.

    Troy McClure: Can I play the piano anymore?

    Dr. Zaius: Of course you can!

    Troy McClure: Well I couldn't before.

    Troy McClure: demonstrates his newfound proficiency

    Troy McClure: Oh my god! I was wrong; it was Earth, all along. You've finally made a monkey -

    Chorus: Yes, we've finally made a monkey -

    Troy McClure: Yes, you've finally made a monkey out of me!

  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: When Troy says, "I'm sorry, this whole concept's foreign to me!", Phil Hartman's Canadian accent noticeably slips through on the word "sorry."
  • Opposites Attract: Troy is a very upbeat and shallow character while Selma is negative and emotional.
  • Out of Focus: The main Simpson family don't get much focus in this episode, as most of the screentime is focused on Troy and Selma.
  • Pet the Dog: When Selma is reprimanded for smoking in a fancy restaurant, Troy lights up a cigar so she won't feel embarrassed. This was before the whole thing turned to publicity.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: Selma doesn't seem to be aware that The Muppets Go Medieval, Troy's "latest" film he takes her to a screening of, is around two decades old.
  • Pop-Culture Pun Episode Title: The title is a reference to A Fish Called Wanda.
  • Publicity Stunt Relationship: Marge's sister Selma gets married to Troy McClure, mostly for Troy to boost his career on his agent's advice. However, she draws the line at having children: a loveless marriage is one thing, but to bring up a child in a loveless marriage is too far.
  • Punny Name: MacArthur Parker is one on the song "MacArthur Park" (and the actual MacArthur Park in downtown Los Angeles).
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The premise of a celebrity marrying solely to convince the public that they have non-deviant sexual urges may have been inspired by the failed Michael Jackson-Lisa Marie Presley marriage, which ended a few months before this episode ran and was widely suspected of being a career-reviving ploy. (Columnist Jonah Goldberg actually referenced this episode in a National Review piece in 2005, as Jackson's child molestation trial was nearing its end.)
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: After the wedding, Troy and Selma get into a a car with "JUST MARRED" written on it, likely to indicate how Troy really feels about the whole thing.
  • Shout-Out: The musical Stop the Planet of the Apes, I Want to Get Off!, in addition to being a parody of Planet of the Apes (1968) and the stage musical Stop the World - I Want to Get Off, also contains the number "Dr. Zaius", set to Falco's "Rock Me Amadeus". See also Punny Name above.
  • Song Parody: "Dr. Zaius", a parody of Falco's "Rock Me Amadeus".
  • Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: Subverted; it looks like Homer might object, but he's too busy humming the tune to Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll, Part 2" in his head.
  • Special Guest: Jeff Goldblum as MacArthur Parker. Oddly, because the Planet of the Apes (1968) musical is such an iconic moment for Phil Hartman, people forget that Goldblum is in this episode too (he was working on one of his biggest films, Independence Day, when he recorded his lines according to Josh Weinstein). The fact that he is not a Celebrity Star but voicing a one-off secondary character might also be a factor.
  • Trophy Child: Defied: Troy's agent wants Troy and Selma to have a baby to improve Troy's career, but Troy doesn't know the first thing about sex with a real woman and Selma doesn't want to bring a child into a sham marriage. Troy then suggests hiring a child actor to be in on it, but by then, Selma's just tired of the illusion.
  • The Unreveal: Troy's "abnormality" is purposefully alluded to but never spelled out. Though Fat Tony's line about Troy McClure "sleeping with the fishes" — which, in this case, doesn't mean that Troy was drowned by the Mafia — is about as close to alluding to Troy's sexual fetish as primetime TV will allow. The Simpsons: Virtual Springfield featured a paparazzi photo with a drunk Troy and a fish in a compromising position.
  • Weird Aside: How Homer lets the truth slip:

    Marge: It was a beautiful wedding. I don't think I've seen Selma happier.

    Homer: That reminds me — Troy said something interesting last night at the bar. Apparently he doesn't really love Selma and the marriage is just a sham to help his career. Well, enough talk. Let's snuggle.

    Marge: WHAT?!

  • You Can Talk?: Done during the Planet of the Apes musical, though that part wasn’t in the movie.
  • You Might Remember Me from...: Used Repeatedly In-Universe. It's a Troy episode, so this trope is all over the place.

    Troy: Hi, I'm Troy McClure! You might remember me from such dates as last night's dinner!

  • You're Just Jealous: Selma believes this when Patty and Marge try to tell her that Troy is just using her to rejuvenate his middling movie career:

    Selma: You're just jealous, because you're [Patty] stuck in a career that you'll be doing ten years after you die, and you [Marge] have a husband that has to bathe just to be a slob!"

The Simpsons S 7 E 19 A Fish Called Selma - TV Tropes (2024)
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