The episode starts when Homer, dressed as a dragon, tries waking up Bart to go with him, Lisa, Marge and Maggie to the midnight sale of the last book in the Angelica Button series. The whole family then goes to stand in line (together with most of Springfield residents). At midnight Homer cannot wait; he bursts into the bookshop, followed by the rest of the people in the line. In the car on their way back home Lisa reads the book, announced there is a happy ending, and then the Simpsons throw the book away from the car. When they get back home, they decide to watch TV.
While watching TV, Marge sees a commercial for a ballet academy, and reveals to Lisa that she had always wanted to become a ballet dancer. Lisa tells Marge that she can still achieve her dream as an adult, and encourages her to audition for the Chazz Busby Ballet Academy. While Marge does make a few mistakes during her audition, Chazz Busby lets her become a student at his school. Meanwhile, Homer takes Bart to the basement and introduces him to a secret room in which Homer has been making beef jerky. When Marge keeps dancing poorly, Busby throws her out. When Lisa argues with Busby about his decision, he notices that Lisa has naturally perfect posture, and asks her to join his academy, and Marge accepts the offer on Lisa's behalf. However, no matter how hard she practices, Lisa soon turns out to be a poor ballet student. While on break, Lisa accidentally inhales smoke from the other students' cigarettes. When the break is over, Lisa enters the studio and performs better than ever, and deduces that second hand smoke is what makes her excel.
Meanwhile, Homer and Bart offer to sell Apu their beef jerky to increase Kwik-E-Mart revenues despite Apu's Hinduism---but it is a lost cause, as Homer and Bart discover their beef jerky room is completely empty, and Apu leaves in frustration, refusing to do such business with them ever again. Homer discovers that a family of raccoons has made off with their jerky. That night, Lisa hallucinates of a cigarette-smoked shaped older version of herself, who convinces her to continue smoking. Lisa doubts the veracity of such a vision, until she is convinced by her feminist heroines by also seeing visions of them, all of whom were smokers. While driving Lisa to ballet practice, Marge—who is proud to have a ballerina as a daughter---starts glowing about how she sees herself in Lisa (even mistaking Lisa for herself), and Lisa starts suspecting that her mother's living her dream of being a ballerina through her.
Homer follows one of the raccoons into the family's home under a tree stump and prepares to take them out, despite Bart warning him that he always loses fights with animals, as his battle with the earthworms proved---but Homer claims that that was phased withdrawal, but after seeing that their family is basically the raccoon version of his family, Homer cannot bring himself to do it. During a windy break, Lisa can't inhale any smoke. She realizes her only alternative is to actually smoke a cigarette, and picks one up. Right as she is about to smoke it, her father arrives and takes it away, by throwing it on the ground, squishing it with his foot, and then shooting it with a gun several times, and he is shown to be putting the gun away into his jacket. (which is also filled with other guns and weapons) Appalled, he goes to tell Marge that Lisa needs to be taken out of the ballet academy, but discovers how proud she is of Lisa; Homer is unable bear to destroy Marge's happiness. He does, however, order Lisa to quit smoking (including second hand), and decides to have Bart keep an eye on her.
When Bart informs Homer that Lisa's still addicted to cigarette smoke, Homer creates a plan involving one of the raccoons. On the night of Lisa's ballet recital, which is Sleeping Beauty, the raccoon breaks into the changing room and steals all the cigarettes and money. On stage, all the ballerinas soon go out of control, and Lisa tells the annoyed audience that ballet is something America has forced onto children, and quits (although she implied that she was going to talk about smoking, which was the main message of this episode, she states that she takes full responsibility for her decision to smoke instead of the usual "blame tobacco companies"), prompting Busby to also quit. Lisa finally manages to overcome her smoke addiction using children's 'Hello Kitty' nicotine patches. Marge also learns her lesson: parents should not try to achieve their dreams through their children, but Homer proves that he has yet to learn that moral, as he is forcing Bart to become a Mexican wrestler called El Guapo, which means "good looking" in Spanish.