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Recap / The Simpsons S1 E11 "The Crepes of Wrath"

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Episode - 7G13
First Aired - 4/15/1990

After Bart gets in trouble for paralyzing Homer by leaving his skateboard out near the stairs and flushing a cherry bomb down the boys' bathroom toilets (and drenching Principal Skinner's visiting mother, Agnes), Principal Skinner visits the Simpson home and tells them that a troublemaker like Bart can benefit from the school's foreign exchange program, so Bart goes off to France, where a pair of low-rent winemakers keep Bart as a slave. Meanwhile, the Simpons host an Albanian boy named Adil, and Homer begins taking a shine to him, but does Adil like Homer or is he using him to get information on the nuclear plant for his country?


This episode contains examples of:

  • Affably Evil: Adil is very polite to everyone and seems to genuinely like his foster family, even though he's a spy stealing nuclear secrets for Albania.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Bart's description of everything César and Ugolin put him through.
  • Art Imitates Art: Bart, Cesar and Ugolin drive through landscapes that are all references to famous French impressionist and realist paintings.
  • Bad Boss: Cesar and Ugolin treat Bart like a slave by forcing him to do most of the work while they sit around and yell at him.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The French used in this episode is fairly accurate.
  • Cold War: The Simpsons premiered just before it unexpectedly ended, and so the subplot involving Adil as an Albanian Communist spy marks one of the last times this era could be dealt with as concurrent instead of something in the past.
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  • Completely Missing the Point: The French policeman only claims outrage at the fact that César and Ugolin put anti-freeze in their wine. Possibly Justified as it could kill large numbers of people.
  • Deep Cover Agent: Adil.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: The vineyard Bart stays at is called the Chateau Maison.
  • The Dog Bites Back: After all the abuse he receives from the winemakers, Bart eventually gets them arrested.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • Principal Skinner's mother in this episode is actually a nice, old lady who embarrasses her son by calling him "Spanky," which is a far cry from the emotional abuse and Psycho-esque jokes about Principal Skinner and his mom years later (and the infamous "Principal and the Pauper" episode where it's revealed that Principal Skinner is really a street punk named Armin Tamzarian and that he became Agnes' son because the real Skinner went missing during the Vietnam War, though that has since been dismissed as Negative Continuity). The DVD commentary justifies this change by stating that Bart's cherry-bomb prank is what turned Agnes Skinner cruel and bitter (though the episode where The Simpsons go to Canada for the Winter Olympics revealed that Agnes hated Principal Skinner because his kicking when he was in her womb cost her the chance to be an Olympic high-jumper).
    • Also, Lisa argues with Adil about the worthiness of America, and her behavior is incredibly odd by the standards of her later characterization. Here, she takes a rather conservative pro-American stance, insisting that it is a land of opportunity with promises of equality. Later episodes would emphasize her liberal political values, and one can't help but suspect that nowadays she would likely side with Adil's critiques of capitalism and of the realisticness of the American dream. Possibly Downplayed, since Lisa is still portrayed as a rather basic ‘moderate Liberal’ at times. For example, this line from the later (Season 7) episode Sideshow Bob’s Last Gleaming
      Lisa: I want to meet the first female stealth bomber pilot. During the Gulf War, she destroyed 70 mosques. And her name is Lisa too.
      • This is also a relic of early 90s American politics. Such a position is only conservative by modern standards. During the 80s and 90s, due to the Cold War, much lower income inequality, America's interventionist foreign policy, and the political success of Reagan-Thatcher conservatism, most mainstream American liberals would have agreed with Lisa, as many of them had the basic message of American exceptionalism and were staunchly anti-Communist. It was not until the fall of the USSR, the Bush administration's actions in the Middle East, the 2008 financial crisis, and the skyrocketing of American wealth inequality that transitioned them to a far more confrontational ideology with more sympathies towards socialism and communism.
    • This is the first foreign voyage episode of the series, yet Bart travels alone, rather than with his entire family (since Bart going to France is part of a student exchange program/punishment for what he did to Skinner's mom, rather than a family vacation) and there is not as many jokes referencing things the foreign country is known for as there would be in later such episodes. note 
  • Famous-Named Foreigner: Adil Hoxha is named after former Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha.
  • Foreign Exchange Student: Bart and Adil.
  • French Jerk: The winemakers. Oh, so very much.
  • Funny Foreigner: Frenchmen and Albanians.
  • Global Ignorance:
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The two winemakers are brought down by the exchange student they abused.
  • Jerkass: The two winemakers. Treating Bart like a slave, stealing his stuff, force feeding him anti-freeze laced wine.
  • Just a Stupid Accent: While the trope was averted, it was played awfully straight in the Latin American dub, with all the French substituted with French-accented Spanish. The gendarme couldn't understand Bart because of his accent rather than his speaking a different language. The Quebec French dub, obviously, kept the French and also had the gendarme unable to understand Bart's accent, but there it made more sense, with the gendarme's trouble with Bart's Quebec accent being more realistic.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The winemakers, who treat Bart like a slave and could have killed him by giving him antifreeze-laced wine.
  • Karma Houdini: Adil gets off scot-free for his crimes of espionage because the CIA and Albanian intelligence do prisoner exchanges. Although, to be fair, he IS a child and more of an Anti-Villain than anything else, so possibly Justified.
  • Maurice Chevalier Accent: All Frenchmen speak in this manner, though the police officer who helps Bart when Bart can finally speak enough French to ask him for help doesn't have that.
  • The Mole: Adil is discovered to be a Communist spy.
  • My Country Tis of Thee That I Sting:
  • Named After Somebody Famous: Adil Hoxha was named after then-Prime Minister Adil Carcani and former dictator Enver Hoxha.
  • National Stereotypes:
    • We only see two Frenchmen for most of the episode and they are both filthy, arrogant wine merchants. One of them wears a beret, has a moustache and smokes a cigarette. That being said, the police officer who helps Bart is actually a fairly nice man who couldn't help Bart at first because he doesn't speak or understand English (then helped him when Bart learned just enough French to tell the officer about the abuse and the wine tampering operation), even though French police officers in real life can be just as snooty and condescending as the wine merchants who abused Bart, especially when it comes to dealing with foreigners.
    • The Albanian is actually a communist mastermind spy. His last name, Hoxha, references the former Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha.
  • Not So Different: The American government also uses kids to spy on other nations.
  • Prisoner Exchange: After Adil gets captured, the American government exchanges him for an American spy captured by the Albanians.
  • Parrot Exposition:
    Skinner: Mr. and Mrs. Simpson, we have transcended incorrigible. I don't think suspension or expulsion will do the trick. I think it behooves us all to consider... deportation.
    Marge: Deportation!? You mean, kick Bart out of the country?
  • Pun-Based Title: The title is a pun on The Grapes of Wrath and the French word for pancakes ("crêpes"), which is odd, considering that the plot is more about grapes and wine.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: A somewhat belated example in the bit regarding tainting wine with antifreeze. The plot point is based on a real scandal from 1985 in which numerous Austrian wine brands were discovered to have been diluting their products with diethylene glycol as far back as 1976, resulting in numerous Austrian and West German consumers suffering liver, kidney, and neuron damage as a result of either long-term exposure from constant drinking or short-term exposure from drinking wine that had been additionally laced with sugar (which prevents the ethanol in wine from counteracting the toxicity of diethylene glycol). The show's staff discuss the incident's effects on the episode in the DVD Commentary.
  • Secret Police: Adil is actually an Albanian spy.
  • Shout-Out:
    • While driving to the French farm Bart and his chauffeur pass through landscapes which are all references to famous paintings made in France, including works by Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh, Henri Rousseau and Édouard Manet.
    • The French wine brewers are based on the protagonists of the films Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources.
    • Bart brought a red balloon for Maggie from France, a reference to the critically acclaimed French children's movie "La Ballon Rouge".
  • Smooch of Victory: After getting the winemakers arrested, Bart attends a ceremony during which he is honored by France. During this ceremony, the young boy receives a kiss from a pretty woman.
  • Teen Superspy: Adil and his spying activities. Taken Up to Eleven with the revelation at the end that the CIA had a pre-teen spy of its own operating on Eastern Europe (that is exchanged for Adil... and the two kids know each other).
  • Time Marches On: Since 1992, two years after this episode premiered, Albania is a democratic non-communist nation. The Albanian spy subplot had more relevance during the Cold War, which was already almost over when this episode aired.
  • Unexpectedly Dark Episode: Bart's abuse by the winemakers puts the episode in this territory.
  • Vacation Episode: The first of many; The Simpsons enjoyed having such traveling adventures about Once a Season. In this one, Bart travels to France.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The winemakers treat Bart like a horse and risk his well being by testing antifreeze laced wine on him during their duration in the foreign exchange program. In a follow up appearance in the comics, they return from prison to try and kill him.


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