(originally aired November 16, 1997)
Apu’s such a great character, I wish they’d make more use of him. The glimpses we see of him outside the Kwik-E-Mart have revealed a lot about his character, and it’s always real fun to see. He’s an kind and earnest man who can sell you milk for twelve dollars, and you still like the guy despite the questionable prices and conditions in his store. Driven by his work and his faith, he’s a man who sticks to routine, and this show comes along to shake it all up. During a disastrous bachelor auction for charity, Marge singles Apu out, and his impressive description of himself grabs the attention of the women of Springfield. Soon enough, he’s a high-flying bachelor, living it up on the town. We’ve seen in the past that Apu’s kind of a Lothario (he was dating Princess Kashmir in “Lisa’s Pony”), but I don’t mind different character interpretations as long as they make sense. Apu’s humble and not much of a braggart, and is surprised at all this new attention. Happy days appear to be at an end when Apu receives a notice from India signalling it’s time for his arranged marriage, but he takes Homer’s advice to lie to his mother about already being married. That seems to have solved the problem… until his mother shows up in America.
Homer concocts a wacky scheme where Apu will take his place and pretend to be Marge’s husband. He assumes sort of a different role than we’ve seen in the past two episodes; this is really Apu’s show and he’s like his crazy best friend who continually gives him bad advice. It’s definitely better than Jerkass Homer, but still makes him more of a character and less of a person. Stuck with no place to go in the interim, Homer visits the retirement home and falls into the role of absent resident Cornelius Talmidge. Things get a little bit more jerky here, as when he demands a poor nurse to turn him on his side, but as always, most things are easily absolved if they’re funny. A place where almost everything is done for you with kidney mush and liquid potato chips aplenty? That sounds like paradise to Homer (“It’s like being a baby but you can appreciate it.”) Meanwhile the other Simpsons are barely maintaining their elaborate ruse to Apu’s mother (great performance by the way by Andrea Martin. Very traditional and motherly, with an Indian accent). Especially love Apu’s Krusty sleeping bag he sets up in the bedroom
Eventually, of course, their trickery is exposed, and Apu is forced to go along with his arranged marriage. The third act is kind of bizarre; for some reason the wedding is held in the Simpsons backyard even though Apu’s mother should be greatly upset with them. They comment on this, but it’s not enough to absolve such a big point. Apu is none too thrilled about any of this, until he sees his bride-to-be, the beautiful Manjula. I’m a bit torn about the nature of the ending. The idea of modern day arranged marriages are so ridiculous and antiquated, that it’s absolutely rife for parody; this show could have had a field day with something like this. But, then again, it almost seems too easy, and perhaps the more subversive route is what’s taken here, positing that there’s a chance that something like this could work out. But, then again, we know that they’re going to be happily married (with eight kids), so any positing about their questionable future. So it’s kind of a safe ending, but I’m kind of a softie for any kind of emotional content, as long as it’s not out of nowhere. These are two kind people hoping for the best in this odd situation. It could work… maybe.. yeah, the writers say it will. Of the questionable season 9s, this is definitely the best of the three so far, with the same level of great, frequent jokes, and less asshole Homer.
Tidbits and Quotes
– Lots of great stuff at the charity auction: Krusty refusing to read from the teleprompter, the music playing when Barney walks out and his horrifically unsexy little dance/sway, the giant ‘REJECTS’ banner, poor old Captain McAllister (“Yarrr, I’m not attractive,”) and last but not least… (“Our last bachelor likes women who take their clothes off for money! Let’s hear it for Moe!”) Moe walks out strutting his stuff to odd Saturday Night Fever music with a big nervous grin on his face. Noticing every woman in the audience shooting daggers at him with their eyes, he keeps on walking to join the rest of the rejects.
– Apu describing himself fits his character and is also a woman’s wet dream (“I have a doctorate in computer science. I run my own business of course. I do like to cook, I’m not such a good talker, but I love to listen. In my spare time I like to build furniture and then to have a discussion about where to put it in a room.”)
– At the end of their date, Miss Hoover comments how Apu was a such a great shot at presumably a carnival game, to which he replies, “All Kwik-E-Mart managers must be skilled in the deadly arts.”
– I love the exchange where Apu asks Homer what he should do about the arranged marriage. Homer frankly tells Apu to tell his mother that he doesn’t want to get married. Apu replies that his mother won’t stop until he is. Homer then tells him to just tell her he already is married. Apu says he can’t lie to his mother. Homer is fed up (“Then get married. What do you want from me?”) This just reminds me of so many conversations I’ve had with friends asking for advice, and when I give them one or two sensible options that they promptly reject, I get annoyed, sometimes using the “what do you want from me?” Apu finally decides to tell his mother he’s married, which gives us the great line “The lie has set me free!”
– Love the montage of Apu’s many different hair cuts, all of which get Homer’s thumbs up. He’s either real easy to please, or barely paying attention. I’d put money on both.
– There’s a few Homer lines here that rub me the wrong way, chastising others for taking advice that he gave, like his air of disappointment when Apu admits the truth to his mother (“He lied to his mother…”)
– Dumb Homer moments are aplenty this show, but there’s a lot of them I do love: taking his time eating his Yodel when thinking of a plan, and then later fantasizing about said Yodel at home until he notices Apu and his mother in the drive (“Oh crap, I forgot!!”)
– I love Apu’s “Honey! I am in my home!” I use it all the time.
– More quotables in Homer’s repeated “And here I am using my [blank] like a sucker” at the retirement home. I also like his wheelchair races with Jasper, only to force Homer to actually use his legs and run to beat him to the dinner table (“Someone sure likes their kidney mush!”)
– Slightly out of character for Lisa, but I like her and Bart’s childish inquisition about Apu’s mother’s forehead dot. She is appalled by their lack of understanding of their father’s heritage. They assure that’s not the case (“So long you have no follow up questions, then yes. Yes, we do.” “Fully. We have to go now.”)
– Don’t know why Marge and Apu would allow Homer back in the house, especially since they’re one night away from pulling off the scheme. But I love Apu’s half-hearted attempt to keep it going after they’re exposed (“Marge, how could you?”)
– Moe gets his share of laughs: reading his mail order bride catalog, insisting he don’t want no pansies, and tearing up at Apu and Manjula’s ceremony (“I am no good at wedding, I am no good at weddings…”)
– Homer’s Ganesh distraction is pretty stupid (what, he threw that thing together in less than an hour?), but I do love the one Indian guest’s indignation (“You are not Ganesh! Ganesh is graceful!”) and the pathetic sight of Homer stuck up in a tree with children throwing rocks at him. Between this and the elephant attacking him at the end, he’s basically devolved into a cartoon at this point.
– From this point on, we establish Apu lives in an apartment, but we saw he has a house in “Two Bad Neighbors.” But whatever. Minor quibble.