This episode is often noted for its famous parody of the Seven Sister Colleges (as they were prior to the 1970s; Vassar College is now coeducational and Radcliffe college merged with Harvard) who appear to Lisa Simpson in a dream:
Barnard College:(wearing glasses): We are the Seven Sisters. And you can attend any one of us! Like Barnard, Columbia's "girl next door."
Radcliffe College: Come to Radcliffe and meet Harvard men.
Wellesley College: Or come to Wellesley and marry them.
Mount Holyoke College:(slurring, champagne glass in hand) No. Party with me! (Falls face first.)
Vassar College: Or nonconform with me! (Raises arms, reveals hairy armpits.)
Smith College:(muscular, carries lacrosse stick, husky voice) Play lacrosse with me!
Bryn Mawr College: Or explore with me! (She and Smith kiss with passion.)
While opening the school, Principal Skinner sings a parody of School's Out by Alice Cooper.
The song played during the Spelling Bee Olympics is "I Put a Spell on You" by Screamin' Jay Hawkins.
The lawsuit against the Spellympics by the Olympics (for using -lympics) is a parody of the law made by Congress which says that the Olympic Committee can sue anyone who uses "Olympics" or makes an arrangement of the five rings.
This episode contains some Grateful Dead references. "Ribheads" are touring the country in devotion to the Ribwich (as opposed to Deadheads) and end up in San Francisco. At the end of the episode, Krusty says, "What a long strange product rollout it's been", paraphrasing a line from the Grateful Dead's "Truckin'."
Booberella, the vampiric hostess appearing at the beginning of the episode, is a parody of television personalities Vampira and/or Elvira.
The title of the episode is a reference to the 1981 book I'm Dancing As Fast As I Can, by Barbara Gordon. The book describes Gordon's addiction to prescription medication and her rehabilitation. This episode depicts Lisa's addiction to fame and longing for acceptance.
Lisa parodies the classic scene from the film Rocky by running up the courthouse steps.
The framed number 0 jersey in George Plimpton's office is in the style of the Detroit Lions, the team Plimpton practiced with in his book Paper Lion.
The spelling bee plot can also be considered a parody of the 1969 animated film, "A Boy Named Charlie Brown", where Charlie Brown wins a local spelling bee competition at his school, and goes on to the National Spelling Bee finals, eventually losing when he mistakenly misspells 'beagle'.
An alternate version of the first scene is used in the 17th season episode "The Monkey Suit".
The Ribwich is an obvious parody of the McDonald'sMcRib sandwich, which is also noted for its intermittent availability and the less-than-obvious origin of its meat.
Portions of this episode were a parody of a Darren Aronofsky film called Requiem for a Dream: the use of a 'hip-hop montage' around a central theme, in the film and this episode, addiction (the Ribwich); also the visuals when Homer eats the Ribwich (dilating pupils, blood pulsing through veins, etc.).