"Four Great Women and a Manicure" is the twentieth episode of Season 20, which aired on May 10, 2009. Valentina Garza wrote the episode, while Raymond S. Persi directed. Jodie Foster guest starred as the voice of Maggie. It should also be noted that this is the only episode where Bart is not seen, nor mentioned. He was only featured in the couch gag.
A "quad-rilogy" episode featuring Simpsonized versions of history and popular cinema and literature. Selma stars as Queen Elizabeth I, Lisa stars as Snow White in a parody of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Marge stars in Lady Macbeth in a Macbeth parody, and Maggie stars as the Howard Roark character in a spoof of The Fountainhead.
Marge takes Lisa to a salon for her first manicure, where they engage in a debate as to whether a woman can simultaneously be smart, powerful and beautiful. They tell four tales of famous women featuring Simpsons characters in various roles, with the main women being the main roles.
In the first tale, Marge recounts the story of Queen Elizabeth I. Various royal suitors wish to win the hand of the Queen (Selma, yet in a previous episode, a young Queen Elizabeth was portrayed by Lisa), including a flamboyant King Julio of Spain. The Queen rejects his advances, especially when he attempted to walk away with her jester, and King Julio vows revenge on England, summoning the Spanish Armada. Meanwhile, Sir Walter Raleigh, (Homer), falls for Queen Elizabeth's Lady in Waiting, (Marge). He leads a British naval offense against the Armada (a lot more ships than England), defeating them by accidentally setting the lone British warship on fire, which then spreads to the entire Spanish fleet. Queen Elizabeth knights him, and then proclaims, "I don't need a man. I have England."
In the second tale, Lisa tells the story of Snow White, with herself in the title role. Her version features the dwarves Crabby (Moe), Greedy (Mr. Burns), Drunky (Barney), Hungry (Homer), Lenny (Lenny), Kearney (Kearney) and Doc (...tor Hibbert) because the Blue-Haired Lawyer appears and tells her that Snow White and the seven dwarfs belong to Disney; Lisa corrects him that Snow White is a classic children's fairy tale. When a wicked queen learns from her magic HD television that Snow White is fairer than she, the queen dispatches her huntsman (Groundskeeper Willie) to murder the young maiden. Willie the huntsman cannot commit the deed, nor kill anything else (including construction paper), though, and Snow White runs away to the forest, seeking shelter in the dwarves's cottage. She keeps house for them while they work in the mines, but the wicked queen, disguised as an old woman, forces Snow White to eat a poisoned apple. She manages to escape from the angry dwarves, only to be lynched by a mob of woodland creatures. In Lisa's version, Snow White doesn't need a man to wake her, but is brought back to life by a female doctor.
In the third tale, Marge relates a story of ruthless ambition, embodied by Lady Macbeth. Lady Macbeth (Marge) is frustrated with everything. Not only she has to clean the costumes, but Homer does not have the titular role in a Springfield production of Macbeth and instead plays a tree(a role he's overly pleased with as he's uninterested in auditioning for lead roles). She convinces him to murder the lead actor, Sideshow Mel. Homer follows her command and then assumes the role of Macbeth. Unfortunately despite having the lead, his terrible acting receives unfavorable reviews compared to the other actors and even those playing dead bodies to get good reviews. This even suggests the viewers prefer that Lenny, Dr. Hibbert, Barney, even Duffman should assume the lead role as Macbeth and that Homer should return to being in the background. Patty and Selma tries to warn Marge in vain that his lack of acting skills and her ruthless ambition will come back to haunt her one day. Even Homer expresses his unhappiness to her and wants to quit so he can let someone else can play the lead, while he goes back to the background. Furious at the lack of good reviews, Marge ignores both her sisters' warning and Homer's unhappiness by ordering him to continue his killing spree until he is the only actor left. He does, but makes a complete mess in killing them with their costumes on.
While cleaning the blood off the costumes, Marge laments on Homer's foul up and having to make her work harder to remove the blood stains off the costumes before someone finds out about her involvement in the murder of Mel and the other actors. She is visited and confronted by the angry spirits she has killed. Marge tries to pin the blame on Homer, but they refused to believe her. Sideshow Mel's spirit reveals that he and the other spirits knew that Homer was a victim himself in Marge's devious ambitions. Lenny agreed and she should've listened to her sisters when she had the chance. Dr. Hibbert reveals that in her plot to kill him and the other actors so Homer can have the lead role, Marge has exposed herself to them. The angry spirits get their revenge on Marge and she is killed with a fright induced heart attack. In Marge's memory (or rather her spirit force since she didn't learn her lesson and anything else from the experience), Homer as Macbeth gives a soul-stirring rendition of a soliloquy to an empty theater. Marge's ghost appears in the audience and is overjoyed. She raves that he gave out a terrific performance and urges him to audition in more Shakespearean plays by tossing scripts in front of him. However much to Marge's chagrin, Homer decides to take the easy way out by killing himself off screen so he doesn't have to audition anymore. In his ghost form, a pleased Homer tells her off that auditioning for those plays would be a real tragedy for him and is free to be lazy. A frustrated Marge learns her lesson the hard way when she realizes that she has to spend the rest of eternity with Homer.
In the final tale, Maggie is depicted as "Maggie Roark," representing Howard Roark from Ayn Rand'sThe Fountainhead. Maggie's architectural brilliance is quashed by an oppressive teacher (Ellsworth Toohey) who encourages only conformity. She builds multiple structures out of blocks and other toys, but they are destroyed by Toohey. Maggie (voiced by Jodie Foster) rallies her classmates with a stirring speech about injustice and creativity, and ultimately grows up to be a wildly successful architect, and uses the top floors for child's care, where kids can build buildings as tall as they want them to be. However, Marge abruptly stops the story and admonishes Maggie for drawing a painting on the wall, in spite of the moral of her story being about creative freedom.