Video for interpersonal comm: self-competence or facework

Information about episode

Simpsons: Season 7, episode 25

This is a strong episode of the Simpsons called “The Summer of 4 foot 2.” When I’ve had time, I’ve shared this entire episode with the students — it has so much in it about interpersonal communication. Normally, however, I break it into two clips:

  • In the first clip, Lisa tries to remake her identity while on a vacation for the summer at a beach house. She was upset that she did not have a close friend to invite on the trip and determines to make friends. Lisa makes her mother buy her new clothing. The clip starts when she meets a couple of kids on the beach. When they fail to respond to her normal way of talking, she begins using slang and expressing interest in “slacker” activities. The kids begin to respond to her. Bart, however, feels these friends are better suited to him and tries to interfere to take them away. His initial attempt fails, leaving him more upset.

  • In the second clip, Lisa continues to grow in friendship with the kids despite making a few face-threatening statements that require immediate correction. Bart decides to doom her relationship with the kids by showing them Lisa’s yearbook full of “nerdy” awards and pictures.

The clips address many issues relevant to interpersonal communication including identity presentation, facework, face-saving, and group cooperation. Note: There is a scene with some dicey content where Homer attempts to be clever while purchasing some illegal fireworks. I edited my clips to remove that scene, but it might be fine for college students.

A brief clip from the episode is available for free from (the entire episode can be downloaded by creating an account with a cable account number). In this clip, Lisa manipulates her mother to buy her new clothes so that she can create a new image while on vacation.

Photo courtesy Simpsons Wiki


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About teachingpublicspeaking

I believe public speaking can go from most dreaded class to favorite class. I'm a former public speaking college instructor who spent years seeking out activities, assignments and examples to make the class interactive as well as educational -- they are collected here. I welcome suggestions for additions.

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