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Lisa flees to Canada, but a tepid Simpsons settles for safe ground


Caging toddlers, an openly white supremacist head of state who regards flouting the Constitution and the rule of law as just “pwning the libs”—these are not the building blocks of traditional TV family sitcom fare.


Mixing high and low comedy to craft monuments to American folly was The Simpsons ’ formula from the jump, with the family’s weekly misadventures illuminating the national character in hilariously biting yet deeply human microcosm.


Confronted with a happy Canadian doctor’s announcement that Lisa’s proposed five-day hospital stay (she went over Niagara Falls due to some parental and operator’s neglect in a falls-side kiddie inflatable ball gladiator pit), Homer blurts in horror that free health care would deprive corporations of “the tax breaks they so desperately need.” Homer has been reactionary , to a greater or lesser degree, in his role as prototypical sitcom dad over the years, learning lessons in tolerance, justice, and humanity again and again, only to revert back to whatever narrow-minded state’s required for the next go-around.


Homer isn’t shown as particularly gung-ho patriotic at Lisa’s snap (medicated) decision to throw over American citizenship in favor of nightly trips to Hardees with nice new Canadian foster parents.


Her decision to ditch family and country happens in a blink, as does her acquiescence to Marge’s demand to return after learning some quick and depressing facts about Canada’s own problems with institutionalized bigotry and environmental crimes.


That it takes some ghostly visitations from the good people and things she still associates with her home country (Lincoln, Seabiscuit, Aretha Franklin, Dumbo, that computer that won on Jeopardy , Louis Armstrong, Judy Blume as herself) is just the final ping-pong bounce of a journey of faith that, with more care, could have done some real emotional and satirical lifting.






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