The Simpsons have a new home this week now that Disney+ has finally come online. The streaming platform has nearly all 668 episodes of the Fox show, though the Michael Jackson episode (“Stark Raving Dad”) from Season Three is absent, and fans are complaining that some sight gags on the edge of the screen have been lost since these are cropped widescreen versions as opposed to the 4:3 originals.
But it’s still a great opportunity to go back and revisit some of the greatest episodes of television ever created. Say what you will about what the show has become over the past 15 or so years, but the early seasons, particularly three through six, have only grown funnier with age. Take the Season Four episode “I Love Lisa” where Ralph Wiggum becomes obsessed with Lisa Simpson after she gives him a valentine out of pity. It’s been the subject of a million “I choo-choo-choose you” and “Miss Hoover, I glued my head to my shoulder” memes over the years, but perhaps its greatest gag comes near the end when the children of Springfield perform a musical tribute to “America’s lesser-known presidents.”
As you can see above, the song cheerfully celebrates the raging mediocrity of forgotten 19th-century leaders like John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Rutherford B. Hayes, and William Henry Harrison. “You won’t find our faces on dollars or on cents,” the children sing. “We are the adequate, forgettable, occasionally regrettable caretaker presidents of the U.S.A.!”
The song was written by Frank Mula and Jeff Martin. Like many Simpsons writers of the time, Martin went to Harvard and wrote for The Harvard Lampoon. He put the education to good use by teaching kids all over America about the rank incompetence of mid-19th-century American presidents. After all, how many people first heard in this song that William Henry Harrison died just 30 days after his inauguration? The Harvard History Department should be proud.