Lisa Simpson seeks refuge in Canada despite Doug Ford

THE SIMPSONS D'Oh Canada episode airs Sunday (April 28) at 8 pm on Citytv, and is available to stream on.


THE SIMPSONS D’Oh Canada episode airs Sunday (April 28) at 8 pm on Citytv, and is available to stream on Monday (April 29) at Citytv.com and on Rogers on Demand.

Lisa Simpson is making a break for Canada.

Thats the premise behind this Sundays episode of The Simpsons, entitled DOh Canada. The Springfield family takes a trip to Niagara Falls, an accident befalls Lisa and she ends up in Canada enjoying free health care. She chases asylum in an episode featuring Newstalk 1010 reporter Lucas Meyer performing his uncanny impression of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

For Manitoba-born consulting producer Tim Long, Lisa Simpson has always struck him as a bit Canadian, especially when you compare her to Bart.

In a way, they have a relationship between them thats like Canada and America, Long tells me. Bart is brash, stupid, destructive and unreflective. Whereas Lisa is thoughtful and tries to do the right thing and is always frustrated about whats going on around her.

That analogy felt exponentially true for Long when Donald Trump took office and Trudeau was still enjoying his golden days though that sentiment is just a tad dated since the SNC-Lavalin scandal took hold.

The bloom is off the rose with Justin a little bit, Long admits. He says the show has managed to work in a reference to Trudeaus recent woes.

Long co-wrote the episode with his wife, Miranda Thompson. Shes not Canadian but hes given her a crash course on all things Tim Hortons and reports back that she has the zeal of a convert.”

Long was raised in Exeter, a small Ontario town that informs some of his work on The Simpsons, which he has been writing for since 1998. He can relate to someone like Lisa, who aspires to greatness while feeling that a small town like Springfield keeps you far from the action.

When you leave your small town, you realize its like the greatest place and then you end up writing about it for the rest of your life, says Long, who happens to be speaking to me from the Ottawa area on the set of The Exchange, a film he wrote based on his years in Exeter.

I ask Long whether hes painting a rosy picture of Ontario in his Simpsons episode. We may seem like a refuge from Trump, but only if you havent been paying attention to another rich-kid disaster: Premier Doug Ford.

Its hard to explain to people in the States, says Long, before giving it a try. Okay, there was this guy that smoked crack. He was the mayor of Toronto. And he was a laughing stock. And he left office. But then they decided to elect his brother to an even more important position.

The new episode wont give Lisa Simpson the opportunity to challenge Doug Fords war on the carbon tax, education, health care and immigration while he fights for tax breaks for the 1 per cent. The Simpsons cant make room for that stuff. But Long has certainly been paying attention to it. Whenever Americans express a desire to escape to Canada, he has to qualify it with the question: which part?

Human nature does not change at the border, says Long, a bottom line hes reached after paying attention to whats been going on with Ontario, Alberta, Brexit and beyond, noticing the surge in nationalism spreading worldwide. Its a really bad part of human nature thats showing itself everywhere.

The Simpsons has recently become a Disney property after the conglomerate that owns Marvel, Lucasfilm and so much more went on to acquire Fox. The series will continue its run on the upcoming streaming service Disney+.

I think basically the relationship between The Simpsons and its employers is going to be the same, says Long, who doesnt imagine any changes in content under the new brand.

We poke gentle fun at the people who are our bosses. And they reap billion-dollar profits from it. Even in the Fox days, the show poked a lot of fun at Rupert Murdoch and he loved it. Hes a super billionaire who ran the most evil news network in the history of the world. If this little cartoon show made fun of him, he just profited off it.

The big change that remains a mystery even to Long is the fate of Apu, the shows Indian convenience store owner voiced by white actor Hank Azaria.

Indian-American comedian Hari Kondabolu criticized the character for being stereotypical in his documentary The Problem With Apu. There has been discussion suggesting that the character may be cancelled, which would be tragic and not really a solution. But fixing Apu in a way that will satisfy new audiences who can out-woke Lisa Simpson wont be easy.

Its such a good thing to have a show thats been on the air for 30 years, says Long, who isnt privy to Apu-related conversations taking place. But over 30 years things change. The standards of what might be cool and what might not be cool are changing. And peoples voices are being heard in a way that they werent. Haris part of that.

@JustSayRad

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