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Recap / The Simpsons S13 E15: "Blame it on Lisa"

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Original air date: 3/31/2002

Production code: DABF-10

The Simpsons go to Brazil to find a lost orphan after Lisa confesses that she ran up the phone bill with calls to her sponsored orphan.


  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In Simpsons Confidential, John Ortved's oral history of the show, former showrunner Mike Reiss describes the Brazilian Tourist Council's complaint about this episode:
    "When the Simpsons came to Rio, they encountered grinding poverty, rat-infested slums, pickpockets, kidnappers, and wild monkeys. There are no wild monkeys in Rio."
  • Baby Fever Trigger: Lisa's video of the Brazilian orphan she sponsors briefly makes Marge consider having another child.
  • Bait-and-Switch: "The Simpsons are going to Antarctica!... Next year. This year, Brazil."
  • Blindfolded Trip: Parodied. After Homer is kidnapped, we see him on a boat with a bag over his head.
    Homer: Where are you taking me?
    Kidnapper #2: Shut up... and take that stupid bag off your head.
    Homer: No. It smells like cinnamon.
  • Cable-Car Action Sequence: After Homer gets kidnapped, the family and the kidnappers agree to do the hand-over on two cable-cars. Naturally, throwing the money over is a lot easier than Homer jumping over; when he does, the cable snaps. The kicker is that it turned out to be Homer's idea in the first place.
    Kidnapper #1: We should make our transfers in a safer place!
    Kidnapper #2: It was Homer's idea. You say no to that face.
  • The Capital of Brazil Is Buenos Aires: Downplayed; while several references are made to Brazilian National Stereotypes, at one point they also mention the fact that it's one of the few non-Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America. Bart gets told by Marge that their main language is Portuguese, which makes Bart learning Spanish rather useless. However, Brazil still gets erroneously conflated with several Hispanic stereotypes, such as showing Brazilians dancing Congo, a Caribbean dance that isn't particularly popular in the country.
  • Chekhov's Gag: At various points in the episode, Bart watches an overly-sexualized Brazilian kid's show, Teleboobies. It turns out that the missing Ronaldo ran away from the orphanage and joined this show as one of its puppeteers.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Lisa warns that getting into an unlicensed cab is something you never do in Brazil. Doing so is exactly how Homer later gets kidnapped.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • Homer's shirt shows Uncle Sam devouring the world with the phrase "Try And Stop Us" and he doesn't understand how the lifeguard realized he's American.
    • When Homer entered an unlicensed taxi, the driver pulled a gun and told him it was an abduction. Homer then asked if that meant he wouldn't have to pay for the ride.
    • Homer's kidnappers tell him they've sent his family their ransom note:
      Kidnapper #2: If your family wants to see you alive again, they would be wise to pay.
      Homer: Oh, I don't know, they've been seeing me alive for free for a long time.
  • Comical Overreacting: Homer's reason for choking Bart is even flimsier than usual.
    Homer: Boy, did you make a prank call to Brazil?
    Bart: No sir, I didn't.
  • Continuity Nod: Bart mentions that after the trip to Brazil, he'll have visited every continent. Bart went to Europe as a foreign exchange student and the rest of the family went there when Lisa lost her balloon. The family has also been to Asia, Australia, and Africa. The family will eventually visit Antarctica under less than ideal circumstances.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: Ronaldo said he had the money to help the Simpsons because he didn't have parents to take it from him, like so many child stars in America do.
  • Dress Code: Parodied. At one point, Homer and Bart visit a beach that requires them to wear ludicrously skimpy bathing suits.
  • Expy: The Brazilian kidnappers are a lot like César and Ugolin from "The Crepes of Wrath", though they're a lot friendlier.
  • Fanservice: Xoxchitla (a parody of Brazilian entertainer Xuxa) and her children's television programme, "Teleboobies". She wears skimpy outfits and is the source of many breast-centric gags.
  • Fan Disservice: Homer's fat, lumpy butt in a Brazilian Speedo (which rides into his ass crack), which causes one woman to make a cross sign with her fingers, another to blind herself by throwing sand in her eyes, and another to stick a jellyfish on her head.
  • Goofy Suit: Ronaldo wears one when acting on "Teleboobies," in the role of Flamenco Flamingo (complete with stilts to give him the long legs flamingos are known for.)
  • It's Always Mardi Gras in New Orleans: While the Simpsons are in Rio it's Carnaval season. Of course, it is!
  • Left the Background Music On: During the cable car ride, Marge comments that the tension is killing her, so Bart switches the music player in the cable car to another theme, but Marge says that it's making light of the situation, so they switch to another theme which satisfies Marge.
  • Lima Syndrome: When Homer is kidnapped in Brazil, Homer's captors develop a friendly rapport with Homer while lampshading Homer's Stockholm Syndrome. They even follow his suggestion for the location of the ransom exchange and compile a scrapbook as well.
    Kidnapper 2: We should make these transfers in a safer place.
    Kidnapper 1: It was Homer's idea. [opens scrapbook] You say "no" to that face.
  • Mating Dance: Marge and Lisa walk by a samba school, showing several suggestive dance pairs, with an instructor claiming they want to push things even further.
    Dance Instructor: This is where we invented the lambada and the macarena. Now we are working on our most powerful dance: the penetrada! It makes sex look like a church!
    Marge: I don't think my daughter should be hearing this.
    [Marge and Lisa walk away]
    Dance Instructor: You cannot protect her forever! You stupid lady!
  • My Country Tis of Thee That I Sting: Homer wears a "Try to Stop Us" T-shirt with Uncle Sam devouring the world on it.note 
  • National Stereotypes: Several references are made to Brazilian national stereotypes: soccer, sweet drinks, the favelas, bikini bottoms, Copacabana Beach, the Amazon, the Christ the Redeemer statue, the fact that it's one of the few non-Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America, the conga, the Lambada, the samba, spider monkeys, the anaconda, the Carnival of Rio, entertainer Xuxa (or at least an Expy), The Boys from Brazil, Blame It on Rio, the song "Aquarela do Brazil", the more open sexuality compared to other countries and the cable car over Sugarloaf Mountain.
  • New Job as the Plot Demands: It's revealed that the businesswoman/TV executive Lindsey Naegle keeps changing jobs because she's a sexual predator.
  • Not Me This Time: Homer instantly assumes Bart made the call to Brazil, possibly due to Bart vs Australia.
  • Parodies for Dummies: The tape series Bart learns Spanish from is called "Spanish for Dummies".
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shown Their Work: For all of their flaws on Brazilian culture and life, the writers did get one thing right: Portuguese is the official language of Brazil, not Spanish (in fact, Brazil is one of four South American countries in which Spanish is not the main language. The others are Guyananote , Surinamenote  and French Guiananote ). The episode also acknowledges Rio has some vast urban forests instead of making the kidnappers go to The Amazon Rainforest.
  • Subverted Kids' Show: "Teleboobies".
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: A Brazilian waiter looks like the Costington employee who always says "Yeeeesssssssss" (only here, he says "Siiiiiiiimmmmmmmmm," which is Portuguese for "Yes").
  • Swarm of Rats: The family come across multicolored rats running through the slums, painted by the government so tourists wouldn't be offended.
    Homer: Ooh, they look like Skittles!
  • Take That!: There's a joke aimed at Stage Parents. Ronaldo has a job on "Teleboobies" that gives him an Arbitrarily Large Bank Account, which he uses to pay Homer's $50,000 ransom out of gratitude towards Lisa. When asked if he can really afford it...
    Ronaldo: I make as much as Malcolm in the Middle. And because I have no parents, my earnings remain unstolen.
  • Tutti Frutti Hat: The hotel room's amenities include one of these, which Bart puts on. Then Homer opens the minibar to find its contents arranged into a similar hat, which he puts on.
    Bart: I'm Chiquita Banana and I'm here to say!
    Homer: I will eat this Toblerone and I will not pay!
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The orphan Lisa sponsored couldn't send her a letter because he didn't know which state Springfield was located in.
    Lisa: It's kind of a mystery, yes. But if you look at the clues, you can figure it out.
  • Zany Scheme:
    Marge: Homey, what are you going to do?
    Bart: [crossing his fingers] Crazy scheme, crazy scheme, crazy scheme...
    Homer: Get me tools and beer!
    Bart: YES!