Hey, you know what strikes me as weird? The show’s obsession with keeping us up to date on the high and lows of the life of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. I don’t really have anything against Apu, but he seems like a weird character to have become obsessed with. Well, we’ve seen Apu learn to love, get married, and have babies, so let’s tackle infidelity.
The episode starts off by showing us how stressful and kind of awful Apu’s life is currently, as demonstrated by showing his eight horrible toddlers destroying his store. He manages to convince Manjula to whisk the children away as he starts to pick up the remains of the store. And while he’s toiling away, cursing his stressful and tired existence, Homer and Bart show up, dressed up in Union Army costumes. There’s apparently a big Civil War reenactment going on, and they’re picking up a keg of beer.
And while Homer and Bart are purchasing the beer they shoot the shit with Apu, talking about how unfulfilled he is with his life. Meanwhile, there’s some lady who is delivering the Squishee machine syrup, and she’s flirting with Apu like crazy. But that’s not important right now, so we follow Homer and Bart out to some park for the reenactment. Which raises the question, why is this a thing? It’s not really a thing here in Colorado, because the Civil War didn’t really occur out here, but do people seriously pretend that they’re fighting in the Civil War in the South? That seems insane.
Anyway, the reenactment begins, and it’s immediately a shit show. Everyone is being incompetent and inaccurate, Disco Stu is Stonewall Jackson, people are just beating each other up, and the keg even gets whaled on and stabbed with a bayonet. But things really fall apart when a group of World War II veterans start getting senility/PTSD flashbacks and decide to hop in a tank and join the fray. Hell, even Professor Frink has a crazy Wild Wild West robotic spider.
At the end of the day though I guess they had a good time, and Homer head to the Kwik-E-Mart to return the now severely damaged keg. But while Homer’s busy coming up with an excuse for why the keg is in such bad shape, he notices that Apu seems to be missing from the store. So Homer start snooping around, and end up coming across Apu in a back room, while he’s having sex with the Squishee delivery lady. So Homer, stunned, leaves the Kwik-E-Mart and makes his way awkwardly home, not sure what to do about what he just witnessed.
And after a night of strange, incomprehensible stress dreams about what he saw, Homer talks to Marge in the morning, and she quickly realizes something is wrong. And using some sort of marriage intuition, she realizes that Homer saw Apu having an affair, and the two start trying to figure out what they should do about it. Since they obviously can’t not meddle. Especially when Apu and Manjula come over to the Simpson’s house that afternoon to play badminton, and the Simpsons have a hell of a time keeping their mouths shut with all the innuendo going around.
But after Marge starts weeping while watching a video of Apu and Manjula’s wedding, that she has for some reason, she decides that they need to fix thing. So Homer takes Apu to Moe’s and starts awkwardly trying to broach the topic of the infidelity, before Marge just gives up and flat out says it. Apu is obviously embarrassed and ashamed, and decides to take the Simpsons’ advice to fix things. Unfortunately the first step is to break things off with the Squishee lady, and when he tries to, he apparently just has more sex with her.
And matters are made even worse when Manjua is just randomly watching Kwik-E-Mart security tapes and finds proof of the affair. So she gets pissed, and kicks Apu out of the house, causing him to move into some creepy apartment for bachelors where Kirk Van Houten lives. And you know your life has hit rock bottom is you’re peers with Kirk Van Houten.
But Homer and Marge aren’t done meddling, so they decide to pull a stupid sitcom stunt, and invite Apu and Manjula to dinner at their house, without the other knowing what’s going on. So they proceed to have the most awkward and uncomfortable dinner party of all time, before they make the kids dress up like Ganesha and command Apu and Manjula to get back together. This does not go well, and Manjula ends up serving Apu divorce papers.
But it’s clear that Manjula doesn’t really want the divorce, as shown by how creeped out she is by the sketchy divorce attorney who just wants to milk Apu for all he’s worth. And at the same time Marge is busy teaching the octuplets to beg Manjula to let Apu come home, so she decides to break down and try to fix the marriage.
So they go to Apu’s creepy apartment, stop him from committing suicide, and give him a list of demands to earn his way back to the marriage. He goes and actually ends things with the Squishee lady, lets Homer ride him like a horse, gets a cartoon published in the New Yorker, and stars in a production of My Fair Lady with an all octuplet cast. And after all of the demands are met, Manjula lets him back to the house, and they begin the arduous task to repairing their trust, love, and relationship.
This episode’s pretty good. But I can’t help but feel like they just wanted to write a story about Homer and Marge almost splitting up, but knew that they couldn’t do that. Because man do they have to pull off narrative gymnastics to find a reason to get Marge and Homer involved. This is one of those episodes that feel like it would have benefited from them actually having made that spinoff show just about the people of Springfield, because there’s really no reason that the Simpsons had to be involved, other than the fact that the show is named after them. But despite that quibble, the episode is interesting, and shows that such a breach of trust in a relationship isn’t easily fixed, and takes work. I’m sure that this will never be brought up again, so it actually was fixed quickly, but the end of the episode makes it seem like Apu and Manjula were going to be in rough shape, but were going to work things out. Which isn’t easy.
Take Away: Infidelity sucks, and it’s a lot of real work to repair the damage that it can wrought.
“The Sweetest Apu” was written by John Swartzwelder and directed by Matthew Nastuk, 2002.