With the recent passing of Marcia Wallace, who is best known among other credits as the voice of Mrs. Krabappel on The Simpsons, I felt it was only right to celebrate one of the stalwart secondary characters in the history of the show. She may not have always had her proper turn in the spotlight, but Mrs. K was always dependable addition to any scene and here are 5 episodes where she really got to shine.
5. “Special Edna”
It seems that between the Golden Era and the later seasons, there wasn’t much in terms of character progression for Mrs. K. She seemed to be on autopilot once the writers paired her up with Principal Skinner, which is sort of a shame because I always felt she was a stronger character than some characters that got more attention than they rightly deserved (Krusty). Even so, it’s amazing that this episode is more than a decade old, but it’s probably one of the better ones in recent memory.
This episode, like most recent episodes, delves into retroactive continuity, which I’m never a big fan of, but it is acceptable here as Edna is not a character who has had a fully fleshed-out backstory. Though, it tends to ignore her marriage and divorce (from what I can remember), which doesn’t make much sense as the timeline wouldn’t match up.
I like the idea that Bart shows enough maturity to recognize how unappreciated Mrs. Krabappel is in her entire life and does something about it. His relationship with Edna has always been an interesting one and it’s refreshing that they could go back to it in season 14 and add a little more to it. It’s not a great episode, but it offers something that new episodes usually don’t at this point.
4. “The PTA Disbands”
I wrote about this episode during my list of my favorite episodes of all time and I merely touched about how hilarious this episode is. It’s also a strong Mrs. Krabappel episode, as she engineers the strike that sets the rest of the episode in motion. This is a pre-romance episode between Skinner and Krabappel and it’s a relationship dynamic I’d say didn’t get enough attention. It may sound like a boring topic – education budgets and funding – but it comes off as a strong character moment for Edna and, to a lesser extent, Skinner.
3. “Grade School Confidential”
It’s a romance that makes odd sense, as both Skinner and Mrs. K really don’t have much else going on in their lives and it’s one that is probably rooted in some sort of statistical reality. As the two prominent figures in Springfield Elementary, in just made sense that this story line would be touched upon eventually and it is one of the most endearing episodes in the show’s run.
The episode puts together two damaged people that come from two completely opposite ends of the romantic spectrum and it’s that dichotomy that just seems to work. It’s a sweet story of two hapless-in-love people that find each other later in life. I honestly wish they stayed together in the show; it was sweet in its mediocrity.
2. “Bart Gets an F”
Most teachers are stuck with troublemaking students for a single school year, but Mrs. Krabappel has been dealing with Bart’s antics since the 1980’s, but back in “Bart Gets an F” she was already showing signs of wear and tear.
This is one of the few episodes that looks at the in-class relationship she has with Bart and it’s a wonderful episode to see the teacher-student dynamic played out in full. This is one of the strongest episodes for Bart and Mrs. Krabappel and it’s assuredly a true to life episode that exemplifies the give-and-take between a troubled student and a teacher without many answers for him.
1. “Bart the Lover”
This is one of the first episodes in which we delve deeper into the life of Edna Krabappel, and it’s still the single greatest Krabappel-centric episode. This is a fine character study of a lonely woman that has been effectively beaten down by a bad string of luck in her life; not the least of which is being saddled with the likes of Bart Simpson.
“Bart the Lover” is a heartbreaking look at the depression that divorce leaves a certain woman and the further damage that is caused by a 10-year old that doesn’t quite understand the emotions he’s playing with. It’s an episode that centers around a secondary character, but doesn’t rely heavily on sitcomish gimmicks like future episodes would fall back on, and it’s a fine performance by Marcia Wallace.