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"The Lousy Week"
Season/Series: 5
Number in season: 5a
Original Airdate: United States October 23, 2000[1][2]
Canada January 12, 2001[4]
United Kingdom August 15, 2001[3]
Written by: Peter K. Hirsch
Storyboard by: Stéphanie Gignac
Patricia Atchison
"The Cave"
"You Are Arthur"
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"The Lousy Week" is the first half of the fifth episode in the fifth season of Arthur.


An army of lice has descended on the heads of Lakewood Elementary. Who or what is strong enough to defeat them? Principal Haney, Nurse Flynn, or mayonnaise?[5]


All day at school, Muffy's head is super itchy, which distracts her from what she's supposed to do in class. When Francine gets mad at her for not blocking a goal during a game of hockey in their gym class, Muffy apologizes and complains how her itchy head has been driving her crazy all day. Hearing this, Francine calms down and advises her best friend to get checked out by Nurse Flynn, noting that Muffy might have head lice.

While in the nurse's office, Muffy argues that it's impossible for her to have head lice, as her nanny, Suzette, washes her hair every day. But Nurse Flynn reveals that Muffy does in fact have head lice, much to the girl's shock. Muffy begs Nurse Flynn not to tell anyone about this and Nurse Flynn gives Muffy special instructions for her and her family to follow to get rid of the head lice. As Muffy leaves Nurse Flynn's office, Francine's waiting for her and asks for the results. Muffy dodges the questions and leaves to go home but forgets her hat. Francine tries telling Muffy but keeps the hat and notices how soft it is, trying it on for herself.

At home, Suzette's washing Muffy's hair with the special medicated shampoo to get rid of the head lice. Muffy's still upset about the fact that she has head lice and claims that it's the worst thing to have ever happened to her. While Suzette is washing Muffy's hair, Muffy's mother, Millicent, comes in and tries to help her daughter feel better, but a flashback to when Millicent was Muffy's age reveals that the same exact happened to her (complete with saying the same exact thing as Muffy). After Muffy's all cleaned up, Millicent notes that they'll really need to clean out Muffy's room to get rid of all the head lice. However, Millicent helps Muffy feel better by pointing out that they could use this as an opportunity to redecorate Muffy's room, which Muffy gets excited about.

At a school assembly the next day, Francine still has Muffy's hat, which gets passed around to all the students, who love how soft it is (much like Francine does) and start trying it on. During this, Nurse Flynn reveals that a student was discovered to have head lice (though she doesn't say it was Muffy) and announces that everyone at the school (staff and students alike) will be required to come down to her office to get checked out regularly for head lice. Nurse Flynn advises the students to not share things like clothing, combs and brushes, as it's very easy to spread head lice that way. Soon, everyone's getting checked out for head lice, and one of the people discovered to have it is Mr. Ratburn.

Everyone has different situations when it comes to the lice outbreak:

  • Arthur's dad uses an old remedy that his mother, Thora, used when he was a kid, and that's putting mayonnaise in the hair of not only Arthur, but also D.W., Jane and David himself. Jane also takes all of D.W.'s stuffed animals for the time being, as there could be lice hiding in their fur. While Arthur's reading in bed, Pal smells the mayonnaise and tries eating it off of Arthur's head. After that, the family switches over to using olive oil for the head lice, as it seems to work just as well as the mayonnaise and Pal doesn't like the taste of it.
  • Binky's watching TV while his mom's busy combing his hair to check for head lice. Binky's initially happy about this arrangement, but soon gets bored with it and tries begging his mom to let him go to bed, but Mrs. Barnes is still busy with combing the head lice out of his hair.
  • At school, Francine's angry with how she has head lice and blames Muffy for starting this whole thing to begin with. Muffy argues that it's not her fault that this happened and expresses happiness that she no longer has head lice, but while the redecorating for her room is being done, Suzette discovers that Muffy has head lice again, much to her shock.
  • Buster's the only one who doesn't appear to have head lice—thanks to his poor hygiene habits, the head lice have trouble surviving on Buster's head.

While Muffy, Francine and Brain are hanging out at The Sugar Bowl together, the girls are arguing with each other about whose fault it is that the head lice outbreak started in the first place. Brain tells them to stop arguing and explains that he's been doing a lot of research on head lice since the outbreak started. As it would seem, with how fast head lice spreads, it's pretty much impossible to tell who gave it to whom and argues that there's no point in fighting about it. Brain also notes that some stuff he found out about head lice is that they can be especially difficult to get rid of if you have long hair. To combat this, Muffy and Francine go to Salon de Beauté and get their hair cut in very short, boyish styles.

Though Muffy's initially upset with their new hairstyles, Francine notes that it's probably a good thing -- short hair is a lot easier to take care of compared to long hair, and the girls also use their new hairstyles to play pranks. For example, they trick Binky into thinking that he's in the girls' bathroom after having somehow snuck into the boys' bathroom.

At the end of the episode, George is going to get his head checked for lice, and it turns out that the general louse is the only surviving one, sitting on the very top of George's antler. As George is walking down the hall to Nurse Flynn's office, he passes by Buster. The general louse tries getting onto Buster's head but misses and ends up falling onto the floor. As the bell rings and people begin filling up the hallways, a student steps where the head louse is, ultimately killing him.







  • Before this episode, the intro uses the boing sound in Arthur’s crash.
  • Francine and Muffy had their hair buzzed off for purposes of lice elimination, but in all later episodes, they still have their long hair. It is likely that viewers are to assume a great amount of time has passed between "The Lousy Week", and later episodes in which Muffy and Francine are shown with long hair.
  • Both Muffy's mother and Catherine had lice when they were younger.
    • Francine claims that when her sister had head lice, it all started with an itchy head, just like with Muffy. Oddly enough, aside from the appearance of nits and lice (dead & alive), itching is the only symptom of head lice.
  • Mr. Ratburn's first name is changed from Emil to Nigel starting with this episode. Later, in "Bitzi's Beau" in the same season, his middle name, Charles, is revealed.
  • Muffy and D.W. are the only characters shown scratching their head, even though the main symptom of head lice is itchiness.
  • The South Park episode "Lice Capades" (which first aired in 2007) shares a lot of parallels with this episode, including a humanization of the lice themselves, the humiliation of one particular student with lice (Muffy in this episode and Clyde in the South Park episode), the eventual outbreak of lice throughout the school, and the eventual defeat of the lice.
  • Mayonnaise and olive oil can actually be used to help get rid of head lice, although their overall effectiveness is questioned by some experts.[6]
  • Muffy says the same line "life is so unfair" which is what D.W. says in "Play it Again, D.W."
  • This episode reveals that Muffy's mother, Millicent, was apparently born into a wealthy family, judging from the house that she had lived in as a kid and the fact that her family was able to afford a nanny (a live-in nanny at that).
  • Muffy's hat looks like the same hat Emily takes in "D.W.'s Backpack Mishap."

Episode connections[]

Cultural references[]

  • The General of the Louse Army greatly resembles United States General Douglas MacArthur.
  • The Louse General's line "I love the smell of hair gel in the morning. It smells like a-" is a reference to the movie Apocalypse Now, in which the character Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore says "I love the smell of napalm in the morning. It smells like victory."


  • When the general louse says that the comb took off its fifth leg, it was mistaken as its fourth leg.
  • When Muffy first discovers she had head lice, she said she will be "ostragized". She most likely means "ostracized", which means "exiled out from a group". Whether this was intentional or a mistake from the actor is unknown.

Home Video[]





Main article: The Lousy Week/Gallery


External links[]