Paul & Linda McCartney appear in an episode of The Simpsons

Sunday, October 15, 1995


On this day, was the first air date of “Lisa The Vegetarian”, an episode of the animated TV series, The Simpson, featuring Paul & Linda McCartney. It wouldn’t be the last time McCartney made a cameo appearance in an animated series; in 2015, he appeared in the BoJack Horseman animated sitcom.

Episode overview, from Wikipedia:

Lisa the Vegetarian” is the fifth episode in the seventh season of the American animated television series The Simpsons. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on October 15, 1995. In the episode, Lisa decides to stop eating meat after bonding with a lamb at a petting zoo. Her schoolmates and family members ridicule her for her beliefs, but with the help of Apu as well as Paul and Linda McCartney, she commits to vegetarianism.

Directed by Mark Kirkland, “Lisa the Vegetarian” is the first full-length episode David S. Cohen wrote for The Simpsons. David Mirkin, the showrunner at the time, supported the episode in part because he had just become a vegetarian himself. Former Beatle Paul McCartney and his wife Linda McCartney guest star in the episode. Paul McCartney’s condition for appearing was that Lisa would remain a vegetarian for the rest of the series. The episode makes several references to McCartney’s musical career, and his song “Maybe I’m Amazed” plays during the closing credits.

In its original broadcast, “Lisa the Vegetarian” was watched by 14.6 million viewers and finished 47th in the ratings for the week of October 9–15, 1995, with a 9.0 Nielsen rating. It was the fourth highest-rated show on the Fox network that week.

The episode received acclaim from television critics and it has won two awards, an Environmental Media Award and a Genesis Award, for highlighting environmental and animal issues, respectively. […]

About the recording process, from Wikipedia:

At the time the episode was being written, Paul McCartney was the only living member of The Beatles who had never appeared on The Simpsons. John Lennon died before the show was created, but Ringo Starr and George Harrison had guest starred in 1991 (“Brush with Greatness”) and 1993 (“Homer’s Barbershop Quartet”), respectively. The staff wanted to bring McCartney onto the show, and David Mirkin thought “Lisa the Vegetarian” would be an attractive story, since McCartney is a vegetarian himself. McCartney agreed to appear, but requested that Lisa remain a vegetarian for the rest of the series, rather than revert to meat-eating in the next episode. The staff promised that she would remain a vegetarian, resulting in one of the few permanent character changes made in the show. McCartney’s wife Linda was also recruited to appear in the episode. She told Entertainment Weekly that the episode was a chance for her and her husband “to spread the vegetarian word to a wider audience”. Paul and Linda were both long-time fans of The Simpsons.

Mirkin later said that recording with the McCartneys was one of the most “amazing” experiences of his life. He flew to London and met the couple at Paul McCartney’s recording studio, where the McCartneys spent an hour recording their parts. The Simpsons creator Matt Groening was supposed to go with Mirkin to London, but missed his plane. Groening commented that having McCartney and the rest of The Beatles on The Simpsons “was a dream come true for all of us”.

Linda McCartney died of cancer at age 56 on April 17, 1998. The Simpsons‘ season nine episode “Trash of the Titans”, which aired on April 26, 1998, was dedicated to her memory. Executive producer Mike Scully said, “It just seemed like the right thing to do. Everyone here was surprised and saddened by her death.”

About the references to Paul’s music, from Wikipedia:

The episode features several references to The Beatles and McCartney’s solo career. For instance, McCartney tells Lisa that playing his 1970 song “Maybe I’m Amazed” backwards will reveal “a recipe for a really rippin’ lentil soup”. A modified version of the song plays in the final scene, then over the closing credits of the episode;[15] when played backwards, McCartney can be heard reciting the recipe in the song. Mirkin had McCartney record the recipe, which was later added in reverse over the original song. McCartney thought it was “very funny” that the staff wanted to “send up the whole cult thing” of backmasking on the Beatles’ songs. “A secret lentil soup recipe seemed a nice parody of that”, he said. One of the backwards snippets says, “Oh, and by the way, I’m alive”, a reference to the “Paul is dead” urban legend.

When Lisa, Apu, and the McCartneys gather on the Kwik-E-Mart roof, Apu tells Lisa, “I learned long ago to tolerate others rather than forcing my beliefs on them. You know, you can influence people without badgering them always. It’s like Paul’s song, ‘Live and Let Live’.” Paul corrects Apu and says the song’s title is actually “Live and Let Die”. The McCartneys later ask Lisa if she would like to hear a song, and Apu sings part of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, to which the McCartneys snap along.

From Club Sandwich N°81, Spring 1997:

I recently saw a superb episode of The Simpsons featuring Paul and Linda. ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’ is heard during the closing credits but that’s not all I heard – there’s also Paul’s voice, saying something backwards. For those of us who cannot play video tapes in reverse, would you please tell us what Paul was saying?

Played forwards, Paul’s message was “One medium onion, chopped; two tablespoons of vegetable oil; one clove of garlic, crushed; one cup of carrots, chopped; two sticks of celery, chopped; half a cup of lentils; one bay leaf; one tablespoon of freshly-chopped parsley; salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste; two and a quarter cups of vegetable stock or water.” Which, for those of you yet to memorise Linda McCartney’s Home Cooking, is the Lentil Soup recipe from page 56. Just for added measure, Paul then concluded with one final message, “Oh, and by the way, I’m alive!”

From NME, March 2020:

The writers of The Simpsons say that Paul McCartney “always checks” that Lisa is still a vegetarian, after it became a key condition of his guest appearance on the show. […] In a new interview with the Radio Times, show consultant David Mirkin – who is also a vegetarian – said he was “happy to comply” with McCartney’s request. But he admitted that every time he bumps into McCartney, “he always checks. And he’s always surrounded by nine or ten lawyers so it’s quite frightening.”

Last updated on March 5, 2021

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