The Way We Was is the twelfth episode of Season 2 and 25th overall. It was first broadcast on January 31, 1991 and was written by Al Jean, Mike Reiss and Sam Simon, while David Silverman directed. It was the first ever flashback episode of The Simpsons. The episode contains cultural references to songs such as "The Joker" and "(They Long to Be) Close to You", and the television series "Siskel & Ebert & the Movies".
When the TV breaks down, Marge and Homer decide to tell their children a story. After refusing to tell the story of how Bart was born (which would later be seen exactly 1 season later in season 3's "I Married Marge"), they decide to tell the story of how Homer and Marge met in high school—and how Marge almost went out with a nerd named Artie Ziff.
When the TV breaks down Marge tells the kids the story of how she and Homer first met. The setting is flashback to 1974, when they were both in their senior year of high school. While Homer was barely a responsible student, contrary to Marge, but when she attends a feminist rally and burns a bra on the school grounds, she is sent to detention for a day. Homer and Barney are sent there for two days for smoking in the boys' restroom. Upon seeing Marge enter the detention room, Homer is smitten and wants to ask her to the Prom.
To get to be around her more, Homer joins the debate team that Marge is on. However, Marge is more interested in the more... articulate Artie Ziff. As a plan B, Homer pretends to be a French student so that he can be tutored by Marge. It appears to be working, and when Homer asks Marge to the senior prom, she agrees. However, when Homer reveals he doesn't really take French, Marge grows furious and storms out of the house, yelling afterward that she hates Homer. The next day, due to her lack of sleep, Marge is unprepared for her role on the debate team. Afterwards, Artie Ziff asks Marge to the Prom, whom she gladly accepts.
Homer doesn't realize (or perhaps, refuses to believe) that Marge has rejected him, and so shows up for prom night to pick her up. After being insulted by Marge's sisters, Homer realizes his assumptions were incorrect when Artie shows up to pick up Marge. Homer still decides to go to the Prom, since he already rented his tuxedo, a limousine, and paid for the two dinners at the event. At the Prom, Homer thinks his night is getting worse: from having a Prom photo taken only of himself without a date, and watching as Marge and Artie are crowned Prom King and Queen and have their first dance. Homer leaves during the dance. Later, Marge and Artie leave the prom and go off to have an intimate moment. Marge is rather unsure about this, and grows angry when Artie clumsily steps over the line. Upon her demand, Artie drives her home, wishing her good night, and asking that she not tell anyone about his 'busy hands.' Marge is about to enter her house when she hears her parents arguing through the door, saying how uncouth Homer was, and how lucky Marge was for going to the Prom with Artie. Marge then gets in her car, and finds Homer walking along the side of the road, having lost his ride. Marge gives him a ride, and says that she should have taken him instead. At these words, Homer mentions that he's a little afraid, because "Once you stop this car, I'm going to hug you, and kiss you, and then I'll never be able to let you go."
The episode ends with Homer happily embracing Marge as the Simpson children look on. While Lisa and Maggie look pleased, Bart (as expected) is grossed out.
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