In a new episode of The Simpsons, we get to see the women that have inspired Lisa throughout cartoon history.
At eight years old, Lisa Simpson is the fearless champion of women we all need. So it’s only fitting that in a new episode of The Simpsons, her choice of decor pays homage to the cartoon women who came before her – and those who have followed in her footsteps. No boyband posters here: instead, Lisa adorns her wall with a poster showing the history of women in cartoons.
The episode, titled ‘Bart vs. Itchy & Scratchy’ (season 30 episode 18), centres on the reveal of a new all-female Itchy and Scratchy reboot. While Lisa is delighted to hear that her favourite murderous cat and mouse cartoon is getting a feminist makeover, Bart and the boys of Springfield are outraged and boycott the show, declaring that girls aren’t funny.
The episode offers a distinctly Simpsons take on modern gender issues, as we see Milhouse lead the boys to form a Boys Right Association (BRA). Fierce sixth grade feminist gang, Bossy Riot, is also introduced, a tribute to Russian protest band Pussy Riot.
But while we applaud Lisa’s determination to face down sexism (and love the fact that The Simpsons is poking fun at the toxic misogyny sparked by all-female remakes), it’s the artwork on her bedroom wall that has really captured our imagination. Because if she thinks a cartoon woman is inspiring, that’s good enough for us.
Below, we take an in-depth look at the figures hailed by Lisa Simpson as icons of cartoon women’s history.
Betty Boop, 1930
Jazz era flapper Betty Boop was created in 1930. Originally appearing in the Talkartoon and Betty Boop film series, she’s hailed as the first cartoon sex symbol. Despite being toned down later in the Thirties, she paved the way for cartoon vixens to come. One of the most successful cartoon characters of all time who enjoyed a nostalgic return in the Eighties, her image remains one of the most recognisable in pop culture.
Miss Grundy (Geraldine Grundy), 1941
The Powerpuff Girls, 1998
Louise Belcher, 2011