Lifetime of Simpsons

S08 E23 – Much Apu About Nothing

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Ooo, timely episode. Let’s talk about the peril of illegal immigrants, and how easy it is to for politicians to blame all of our problems on them while masking what’s truly wrong.

The episode starts off with a bear happily wandering around Evergreen Terrace, not really bothering anybody, just going for a stroll. But people freak the hell out, especially Ned who ends up throwing himself through a window to escape the murderous bear who is just sitting there watching him confusedly. This of course draws Kent Brockman in a helicopter over, because a peaceful bear is apparently city-wide news. Meanwhile, Homer is watching the story from inside the house, not really caring about the bear situation outside until he realizes that there’s no beer in the fridge. So Homer begins a complicated plan where he’s trying to climb a power line before jumping through the windshield of his car, but he just falls and lands next to the bear. Luckily for Homer the police show up to save the day, and fire a tranquilzier dart at the bear, hitting Barney instead. Barney passes out, and the actual bear is shot while Chief Wiggum says the wonderful line “Book ‘em Lout. One count of being a bear, and one count of being an accessory to being a bear.”

And once the bear, and Barney, are carted away, Homer begins riling up the neighbors, complaining about the constant bear attacks that started just then, and gets an angry mob ready to march to town hall. They burst into Mayor Quimby’s office, and demand something is done about these bears. Quimby then quickly goes with the mob’s wishes, and starts a bear patrol, which has carte blanche to survey the city and keep bears away. Unfortunately when Homer sees the $5 tax increase on his pay check to pay for the bear tax, he gets even more mad, and gets the old mob back together to storm the capital again. Quimby isn’t sure what to do about the mob, since there’s no making them happy, so he just does what politicians do when faced with a problem they can’t figure out. He announces that the tax increase is because of illegal immigrants!

So the townsfolk of Springfield will now get to vote on a referendum which if passed would immediately deport all illegal immigrants. And everyone in town jumps on the anti-immigrant bandwagon, even the kids at the Elementary School who start picking on Uter and Willie. At this point Lisa is the only one in the family who is against the referendum, even bringing up the classic argument that everyone was an immigrant once. Which leads to Grandpa telling the story about how his parents and him travelled to America to live inside the head of the Statue of Liberty. Unfortunately Homer is super for the deportation, even when he realizes that it will affect someone he’s friends with. Apu.

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Later on we see Apu trying to bribe a statue of Ganesha with some Yoohoo in order to make the referendum go away. But Lisa and Marge show up to talk with Apu, who begins to tell them his story. He apparently graduated first in the class back in India, and moved to Springfield to study computer sciences with Professor Frink. And after his Phd thesis of computer punch cards was finished, he just stayed in the country because he loved it so much. And it looks like there’s no getting around the referendum, so Apu is on the hunt for a solution. And wouldn’t you know it, Kearney shows up with a fake ID, trying to buy beer and cigars, and Apu lets him take the stuff in exchange for telling how to get one just like it. So Apu goes to meet Fat Tony in a shadowy alley, and gets a new Social Security card, passports, birth certificate, and death certificate.

And to complete the illusion Fat Tony tells Apu to act as American as possible, so Apu goes way overboard and starts speaking with a bad Texan accent, while decking the Kwik-E-Mart out in American flags. But when he gets talking to Homer about his new American heritage, he breaks almost immediately and starts freaking out about how it’s a sham. He just wants to stay in America, and be a citizen, but stay himself. This finally moves Homer enough to realize that this referendum isn’t a good idea, and he agrees to help Apu figure things out. So Apu comes to stay with them while Homer tries out his first idea, getting Selma to marry him. But Selma doesn’t want to add another last name to her increasingly long list of ex-husbands, especially since she apparently married Lionel Hutz at some point, so that idea doesn’t work. But Lisa comes to the rescue when she finds that he can be grandfathered into a law passed where Apu can easily get a citizenship test.

So Apu and Homer begin cramming American History so he can pass his citizenship test, which he has to do in the week before the referendum. And, of course, Homer is a terrible teacher, so things aren’t going well. Apu actually knows a lot about American history, but Homer just keeps correcting him with wrong information, to the point that Apu loses all hope in passing the test. But the day of the test Lisa wakes Apu up and saves the day, taking Apu to the test while giving him the right info. So Apu gets ready for the test with all the other immigrants, like Luigi, Bumblebee Man, Dr. Nick, and Moe. And by the end of the test Apu has an oral exam with a guy, who just tells Apu to say “slavery” was the cause of the Civil War, and to ignore all the other more complicated stuff. And just like that, Apu is an American citizen. So the Simpsons hold a barbeque to celebrate Apu’s citizenship, and man do I love when Homer says “if I could say a few words, I’d be a better public speaker,” and Bart thinks it’s freaking hilarious. But Homer makes an impassioned speech about how they shouldn’t deport all the immigrants, which clearly moves everyone at the barbeque. Unfortunately that wasn’t good enough, and the referendum is passed with a landslide. Not that Apu cares, since he’s fine, and the only person who gets screwed is Willie.

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What a great episode. I really love the dynamic of Homer and Apu, and this episode works even better than the previous episode they had together. They have such a funny little friendship, and it was a lot of fun to see them work together to help Apu. But the real gem of this episode is how hilarious the political satire in this episode is. I’ve talked before about how the Simpsons really did a lot of form my political beliefs, and this episode is probably a big culprit in that. Seeing how quickly Mayor Quimby realizes he can get the town to forget their issues by focusing on the nonexistent problem of illegal immigrants is so perfect and accurate to real life that it’s crazy. Look at this shit-show of a Presidential primary and see how all the GOP candidates are bending over backwards to blame as many problems as possible on as many different types of immigrants as possible. It’s so depressing that this works so easily on people, and sadly probably won’t be fixed anytime soon, because it works so well as a smokescreen that bad politicians can use to obscure the real issues that they have no idea how to fix.

Take Away: Don’t trust politicians who yell about illegal immigrant.

 

“Much Apu About Nothing” was written by David S Cohen and directed by Susie Dietter, 1996.

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