The Crepes of Wrath
Garlic gum is not funny.
Couch gag: Homer is squeezed off the couch when the family sit down (they really should consider getting a new, bigger couch…)
Directors: Wesley Archer and Milton Grey
First appearance of:
Synopsis: Bart has pulled one prank too many- while Skinner’s mother was using the bathroom, Bart put a cherry bomb in the toilets. Skinner proposes a student exchange program in which Bart would be sent to France and the Simpson family would host a child from Albania. The Simpsons agree to the plan, so Bart is sent to a wine-making establishment while the Simpson family hosts Adil from Albania. Adil is well-spoken and polite, showing an interest in Homer’s work which pleases Homer. Bart catches his hosts adding anti-freeze to their wine while Adil is stealing nuclear secrets. Adil is deported, Bart’s hosts are jailed, and everyone lives happily ever after (until the next episode of hijinks).
Discussion: In 1997, a critic from TV Guide named this as the best Simpsons episode ever. I disagree. The episode is quite depressing; Bart is mistreated, a kid is stealing nuclear secrets and French wine contains anti-freeze. There aren’t as many laughs as other episodes, however there are plenty of cultural references to catch.
Whenever The Simpsons do an episode set in a foreign country, they don’t tend to be very flattering to that country. It’s not only the predicament they find themselves in, it’s the whole way the country is portrayed (don’t get me started on the Australian episode). This episode is no different. Sure, Bart meets a friendly policeman and justice is served on the guys making dodgy wine… but I’m willing to bet that the French weren’t happy about child labour, dodgy wine-making tricks and animal cruelty implied. I understand, the point of the show is not to showcase foreign countries (leave that to Oprah), but really, making cheap jokes at the expense of some very beautiful countries isn’t helping the cause. America isn’t so perfect either, and although the show regularly highlights and satirises American culture, imagine the outrage if American citizens were portrayed as potential terrorists. Springfield has a lovely gorge; other places of natural interest aren’t shown in foreign episodes.
As a whole, I think the episode could have been done better (gasp!). Instead of making Bart a slave, put him in an actual chateau with all the airs and graces and then make him find out that the whole thing is a sham. Not that this would do anything to improve my concepts of foreign-based episodes, but the sentiment plays better. I do like Adil’s storyline- a child spy is pretty good. Maybe stick in a friendship with Milhouse; Homer loves Adil, Marge feels Adil is crowding out their own son in Homer’s heart, why not push the boundaries of The Better Boy by having Adil take over Bart’s friends as well?
PS, for anyone playing Simpsons Logo Quiz on Android, this episode contains 4 answers.