1.11 The Crepes of Wrath
Bart is sent to France in a foreign exchange program after a prank with a cherry bomb goes too far. The Simpson family gets a loveable Albanian exchange student named Adil in return, who turns out to be a spy.
(How very American of you, Simpsons.)
On the bright side, Adil speaks real Albanian during his goodbye scene with his family, so, good on the writers for doing their research. Fortunately it’s hard to stereotype a culture Americans know absolutely nothing about, so the Eastern European-as-commie-spy trope isn’t as offensive as it could have been. It mostly just comes off as cute, particularly with Lisa rattling off facts about Albania.
Man, Americans really don’t seem to like the French, though. We have no choice up here in Canada since the Supreme Court decided Quebec can’t just break off from the country in a free vote. Our only recourse is to utter snide remarks when they consistently walk into your video store 2 minutes before closing (seriously that was a thing for me). Anyway Bart’s hosts are dirty, selfish French stereotypes, whistling “Frère Jacques” and drinking wine in excess.
Don’t get me wrong, they’re also funny. Like when one of his hosts says to a mule, en français, “Once the boy arrives, your days of back-breaking labour will be over.”
Funny moment when Adil asks Lisa, “How can you defend a country where 5% of the people control 95% of the wealth.” OH HOW TIMES HAVE CHANGED #WeAreTheNinetyNinePercent. Lisa responds, “I’m defending a country where people can think and act and worship how they like,” to which Adil says, “Can not.”
Adil is hilarious. He says to Marge, “You have been oppressed enough for the day. I will clear the dishes.” I forgot how much Adil functions as an agent of criticism.
Nancy Cartwright’s (Bart) acting in this episode is fantastic, by the way. Her reading of Marge’s letter from home is heart-wrenching. She’s also great in the scene where Bart, having just realized he can speak French, uses that to tell a cop how his hosts are using anti-freeze in their winery.
Near the end a SWAT team comes and arrests Adil, so, moral of the story, never trust a European or a French person (yes I know; that’s a playful dig at America). Adil asks the Simpsons not to let this sour them on the student exchange program…okay that’s really funny.
Bart says he didn’t meet a single nice person in France, which, I guess all this antagonism toward the French comes from their surrendering in World War Two? Because, y’know, America did all the work in that war, right? It totally wasn’t the Soviets who were responsible for 84% of all German military deaths. *cough*
Best Moment: Bart calls Homer a buffoon in French, and an oblivious Homer exclaims how proud he is that his boy can speak another language.
Best Quote: “Although officially I am required to hate you, I want you to know I do not feel it in my heart.” -Adil