The premise: After accidentally plunging down Niagara Falls, Lisa is granted sanction into Canada, and finds herself not wanting to leave such a seemingly perfect country.
The reaction: The Simpsons take on Canada (again), I guess. Moments after Lisa washes up on Canadian soil, she’s greeted by a modest mountie who says “eh” a lot, and is later given an IV drip of maple syrup. It’s like ticking the over-exhausted Canadian trope boxes. When Lisa goes on an angry diatribe over all the current US affairs that plague her eight-year-old mind, aforementioned mountie deems that since she feels unsafe in her own country, she’s now a Canadian refugee, and then “deports” her parents after protesting. It all feels very… dumb, but it doesn’t matter. Lisa of course is enthralled living in a nation that prioritizes education, the environment, and actually cares for its citizens (“I’ve never been happier!” she explains to the audience, helpfully). Eventually, Marge eventually sneaks her way across the border to get her daughter back. Of course, there’s no real emotional element to this at all. Lisa seems to not care at all about being away from the family, she adamantly demands to stay in Canada when Marge shows up. She lives with foster parents who I guess were assigned to her, but of course we don’t know anything else beyond that. Meanwhile, Marge is pissed when she comes to get Lisa (“Listen you little traitor, I’m your mother, and you live where I live! You’re coming home with me!”) Remember when Marge used to be nice to her children? Anyway, it turns out the two of them are stuck there since America is very anti-immigrant at the moment, but Lisa has a last minute change of heart about the good ol’ US of A because the episode is almost over. When she’s originally about to leave Canada, her new teacher helpfully walks by to let her know that there’s a lot of shitty parts about Canada too. It’s a fairly pedestrian theme the show could have utilized, how the grass always seems greener across the border or whatever, but of course the show doesn’t even bother. The show ends with the Simpsons running across a frozen river that’s cracking apart, but that doesn’t really matter as Homer’s able to cram in a joke about the Detroit Lions, and they get back into America and that’s it. Boy oh boy did I not miss this show.
Three items of note:
– On their trip up north, the Simpsons take a little trip through Upstate New York, where Homer sings a ballad to the wretched wasteland with revised lyrics to “New York, New York.” It’s basically a minute and a half long piece of filler in an episode that already felt super short (there’s an extended reused couch gag from years ago, and another thirty-second song later by Canadian Ralph). It’s full of references to Oriskany, Mohawk Valley Community College and the old Kodak factory… which I guess people from there will understand and think is funny? I don’t get it, are a bunch of writers from upstate New York and were just laughing their tits off writing this? It’s just more of acknowledging reference humor than actual jokes. It’s 90 seconds of just shitting on upstate New York. If the Simpsons drove through Central Jersey and sang a song about all the different landmarks and tropes of the area, I’d be perplexed more than anything, even though I would get the references. And beyond that, of course, the song is completely meaningless. “Capital City” meant something. “New Orleans” from “Oh, Streetcar!” meant something. This song means nothing, except to get mentioned in a couple of local New York papers. Any press is good press, I guess.
– I’m pretty sure this is the first time in the show proper they’ve breached any sort of discussion about President Trump. In her rage against America, Lisa repeatedly tries to hurl obscenities about our very smart big boy President, only to be shushed by Marge. Later in her new classroom, she introduces herself thusly (“As an American, I’d like to apologize for something our President said about your wonderfully progressive Prime Minister.”) She is then ushered to another room where she’s able to Skype with Justin Trudeau (voiced by some guy), who proceeds to prove he’s not “weak” by lifting himself up on his desk and shimmying around. Jesus. It truly feels like a shitty SNL sketch where whoever playing Trudeau rips his shirt off and he’s ripped, and he’s like “Does THIS look weak to you, Mr. Trump?!” And the audience goes wild. Holy fuck, how embarrassing. The scene ends with Lisa alluding to the SNC-Lavalin scandal, causing Trudeau to get the fuck out. I guess this is their way of being impartial, but it felt like too little, too late after such a sorry display.
– Marge of course doesn’t give a flying fuck about her daughter’s unhappiness or disillusionment about America. When Lisa once again affirms she’s going to stay in Canada, Marge, with a big smirk on her face, tells her to look out across the lake at the United States and think of only the good. So Lisa does, and she imagines America’s all-stars: Abraham Lincoln flying on Dumbo (SWEET, SWEET DISNEY SYNERGY!!), Aretha Franklin, Judy Blume (voicing herself) and Louis Armstrong, who sways Lisa with just one line of dialogue (“Get your ass back over there!”) It’d be funny if it were intentionally awful, but I know it’s not. Speaking of Dumbo, I thought maybe I’d talk about the absolutely stupefying piece of synergy released a month ago during the promotion of Disney+, announcing the series would be available exclusively through the new streaming service. It’s just… I still don’t fully know how to express how I feel about it. It so desperately wants to seem like it’s biting the hand that feeds like they used to, referencing to Disney as their “new corporate overlords” (SEE! They referenced that line that’s a meme!!) and showing Rupert Murdoch’s portrait in a trash can (never mind the Murdochs are now majority shareholders in Disney), but it’s all so fucking phony. The Simpsons went from being counter-culture in the 90s, to just being culture in the 2000s, and now they’re just blank-faced corporate assets to be used however their new lords and masters at Disney will see fit. To paraphrase Troy McClure, who knows how much more soulless and creatively bereft The Simpsons will become between now and the time the show becomes unprofitable?
One good line/moment: I got nothin’ here. This was a pretty bad one.