Air Date: April 15, 1990
Bart does something so bad that both Homer and Principal Skinner want him out of the country. With the foreign exchange student program at school, Bart is sent to France to work at a winery.
The humor in this one is very dry. Maybe because some wines are dry? Yeah, that’s about the same level of humor in this episode of the Simpsons. I’m not against dry humor, but our favorite yellow family works best when they can bring the zany, or the crazy, or the slapstick. Especially with Bart since he’s the absolute bonkers out of any of them, well, except for Homer sometimes. Anyway, as an episode that centered around Bart and Homer, this felt strange and out of place and it isn’t that funny, really.
This does mark the first time any of the Simpsons leaves the country. Even then though, it just felt out of place and strange. Usually when the titular family goes somewhere foreign they end up experience the culture, even if it’s just a slice of it. Here though, Bart is essentially put into slave labor and all he does is pick berries and make wine. His captives are very mean too, and abusive, and if anything this makes me feel like France isn’t a place for little boys.
Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, this episode was kind of racist. The Simpsons are shown as this nice family willing to send their boy to France and take someone else in from Albania, but the French are awful and seem willing to do things like work a little boy to death or cut wine with antifreeze, while the Albanian boy is secretly a terrorist just trying to get the nuclear codes at Homer’s plant. These are very strange stereotypes they seem to be forcing on their viewers, to say the least.
+4: This is such a strange episode compared to what the Simpsons usually is, I know they can’t all be winners but it’s not particularly funny, not even in a dry way, it’s oddly racist, though I guess most of the 90s was like that in that it was both trying desperately to be woke, but at the same time was strangely ignorant
+1: Though the humor was slow to come, I found myself laughing quite hard when Homer was asking questions of the police outside his own house. This is the type of stuff I expect from the Simpsons, not so much the dark horribleness of the world…