It’s about time that Canada adopted Lisa Simpson.
Homer realizes at the very last moment that he has to cash in his credit card points to stay in a hotel. He rushes the family into the car, and they make their way to Niagara Falls. As Lisa and Bart are fooling around, she accidentally falls into the falls and washes up on shore in Canada. The local authorities decide that she is a victim of the political tyranny of the lower 48 and is granted asylum. Meanwhile, the rest of the family is deported back to the USA.
Lisa falls in love with the culture, education, and political forwardness of the country. Even as Marge sneaks across the border to get her daughter back, Lisa doesn’t want to leave. To make matters worse, getting back into America isn’t going to be as easy as Marge hoped. Finally, Marge convinces Lisa to return home, and they are forced to cross a frozen river to Detroit to get back in the US.
The Simpsons are back in Canada! And, as a proud Canadian, I have been excited about this episode for weeks. Not that The Simpsons haven’t been to Canada before, but it’s always nice to see TV’s favourite yellow family come to your land and make fun of it. For something even more unique, it is written by Canadian Tim Long who has been writing for The Simpsons for 20 seasons now. Long also stated that this episode was a familiar one for him, as it resonates something that happened to an exchange student when he was a child growing up.
So, Canada. What could be better when the great white north shows up on screen then perpetuated stereotypes! Which this episode doesn’t fail to mention them all. Let’s hit the checklist: beavers, maple syrup, hockey, free health care, and poutine? Check, check, check, check, and a big check! I actually liked the poutine reference a lot as a food guide poster is seen in the school that features all of the ingredients filling up each tier of the food pyramid. Otherwise, these stereotypes are getting a bit old, and The Simpsons creators must recognize that because they stepped up their making-fun-of-Canada game.
For one, we should be happy with the addition of recreational cannabis to the crazy Canada identity. Beyond that though, they actually mention a few of our own political issues like the oilsands that don’t get much attention elsewhere. Current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has to be our most famous political leader in pop culture now, as the first Prime Minister to be on The Simpsons. I doubt there isn’t one Canadian that didn’t laugh at the Ralph-like representation of Newfies or a Newfoundlander for the rest of the world. For the win though, Kent Brockman delivered the best line when he called us “America’s Ned Flanders to the north.”
There was a small Easter egg that is worth a mention. With Canada’s love for hockey, it actually isn’t a stereotype for pictures of legendary players to be put up in schools. So, when a photo of Gordie Howe showed up, it made a lot of sense. However, fans of the golden age of The Simpsons will remember the same picture from the season 3 episode “Bart the Lover” where Bart sends fake letters from Woodrow, but the photo is the iconic hockey player. Another Easter egg dropped in the couch gag when The Simpsons enter the set from Cheers. When who shows up? Sideshow Bob, aka Kelsey Grammer, one of the stars from the hit 80’s show.
Alright, eh. I am just going to come out and say it, I love this episode. It’s probably one of my favourites from the last few seasons. I was worried that this was going to be a cliché representation of Canada with all the same recycled jokes that Americans have been using for half a century. Instead, we received a highly political, intelligent story, that touches on many of the things about Canada that aren’t usually mentioned. The Lisa finding a better life outside The Simpsons household plot is a little played out, but the humour was as fresh as a steaming pile of poutine. For me, this was a home run, or should I say hat trick? I don’t know how much Americans will enjoy it, but who cares, just let us have this one.