E Pluribus Wiggum

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"E Pluribus Wiggum"
The Simpsons episode
Episode no. 410
Production code KABF03
Original air date January 6, 2008
Showrunner(s) Al Jean
Written by Michael Price
Directed by Michael Polcino
Chalkboard gag Teacher did not pay too much for her condo.
Couch gag A parody of the medieval Bayeux tapestry shows Ned Flanders and his family stealing the Simpson family's couch. The Simpsons then take it back and kill the Flanderses. (The TV credits were merged to it)
Guest star(s) Jon Stewart
Dan Rather

"E Pluribus Wiggum" is the tenth episode of The Simpsons' nineteenth season, first broadcast January 6, 2008 on Fox. It was written by Michael Price and directed by Michael Polcino, and it guest starred Jon Stewart and Dan Rather as themselves.[1] This episode became controversial in Argentina for a joke made about the government of Juan Perón.

Michael Polcino was nominated for Writers Guild of America Award in the animation category for writing the episode.

Plot[edit]

Homer leaves work, and when he is reminded that his diet is starting on the first day of the month (which is that day), he decides to have one last binge at Springfield's Fast-Food Boulevard. After filling up, he decides to throw away his wrappers and the contents of his car in a trash can outside of a Krusty Burger, tossing away a leaky battery and a lit match. The acid from the leaky battery eats a hole in a gas main, with the lit match igniting the gas and starting a fire which soon causes nearby gas pipes to explode, completely destroying Fast-Food Boulevard.

At a town hall meeting, the enraged residents of Springfield demand that Fast-Food Boulevard be rebuilt immediately. To fund the reconstruction, a bond measure is proposed. As the next election isn't until June the next year, Mayor Quimby moves it to the upcoming Tuesday, making Springfield's presidential primary the first in the nation. Candidates and reporters head to Springfield when they hear the news.

The candidates flock to the Simpsons, who are undecided. Their home is filled with people and their yard is covered with reporters; helicopters and news vans surround the lot. When voting day arrives, an angry Homer and other citizens hold a meeting in Moe's Tavern. Homer suggests the people vote for the most ridiculous candidate, whom they choose after Chief Wiggum suggests himself. The same night, Kent Brockman announces an unexpected turn of events; Springfield has rejected all the leading candidates and voted for 8-year-old Ralph Wiggum. He wins the primary, much to the shock of Lisa Simpson.

Ralph is immediately embraced as the leading candidate, and Homer and Bart become his fans. Lisa, however, is miserable, as she knows how slow Ralph is. A news report (called Headbutt) shows Ralph has no idea of which party's nomination he is seeking. Both the Democratic and Republican parties contend to secure Ralph as their candidate. The leaders of both parties break into Ralph's home, wanting to fight for him. Lisa confronts Ralph amongst the media frenzy, attempting to convince him not to run. Ralph tells Lisa he wants to run so he can bring peace between warring parties and his earnest kind heartedness wins her support. He is proven to be a formidable candidate, and both the Republicans and the Democrats support Ralph for president. The episode ends with a political commercial for Ralph, sponsored by both parties.[1]

Cultural references[edit]

  • The title is a reference to E pluribus unum ("Out of Many, One"), the Latin phrase that appears on United States coins and currency.[2]
  • Cheesy McMayor is a parody of McDonald's Mayor McCheese.[2]
  • Former President Bill Clinton is seen putting up campaign signs for his wife, Senator Hillary Clinton. Later, in the commercial for Ralph, Bill announces his support for him, adding "but don't tell you-know-who" - a reference to his appearance earlier in the episode, when Hillary whines at him over the phone.[2]
  • Arianna Huffington[2] and George Will are parodied as guests on the fictional talk show HeadButt. Later, the Huffington character meets with the Springfield Democratic Party and reveals that the flamboyantly gay Julio is her ex-husband—a dig at Mike Huffington, who revealed he was bisexual after divorcing Arianna.[3]
  • Springfield's Democratic Party headquarters is in Trader Earth's, which is a parody of Trader Joe's.
  • Dan Rather's utterance of "Sweet mother of Murrow!" refers to Ethel Lamb Murrow,[4] the mother of prominent television and radio reporter Edward R. Murrow.
  • A diner in the episode, Dead Lobster, is a parody of Red Lobster.
  • The song played during Homer's fast-food binge is Hungry Like the Wolf by Duran Duran.
  • The name of the cigars Homer smokes is "Jerkass Homer Brand Cigars," a reference to Homer's personality change during the Mike Scully era where Homer was meaner and less sympathetic about others.
  • Mr. Burns says that George W. Bush fairly won election in 2004, then adds somewhat sheepishly, "Assuming they don't find those ballot boxes in Ohio". This refers to the 2004 presidential election, in which Ohio's electoral results were challenged in Congress.
  • When the New Hampshire woman decides to shoot the cashier after her husband carelessly says her name, this is a reference to Once Upon a Time in the West.

Reception[edit]

An estimated 8.2 million people tuned into the episode.[5] Richard Keller of TV Squad said that it was an episode with many jokes and sight gags, his favorite being the episode's guest stars and the many references.[2] His only disagreement was the abrupt ending.[2] Robert Canning of IGN said the episode had all the ingredients that seem to make it a classic episode.[6] He enjoyed the theme of Homer and Fast-Food Boulevard, the political mocking, and the centering of Ralph, and like Keller, he felt the show seemed to shun Ralph until the end; he gives the episode a rating of 6/10.[6] Dan Snierson of Entertainment Weekly reveals (five days after the episode was broadcast) that it received positive reviews from the site, and Ralph Wiggum had their vote.[7]

Controversy[edit]

The episode caused controversy in Argentina prior to its broadcast there. The controversy is over an exchange between Lenny and Carl. Carl says "I could really go for some kind of military dictator, like Juan Perón. When he 'disappeared' you, you stayed 'disappeared'!". Carl's comment is a reference to the Dirty War in Argentina, a period of military dictatorship during which as many as 30,000 Argentines disappeared, and is largely regarded as having begun during Perón's last government with the Triple A, a death squad which killed many left-wing dissidents. The clip was viewed on YouTube over ten thousand times in Argentina and some politicians in the country called for the episode to be censored or banned.[8]

Lorenzo Pepe, former Argentinian congressman and president of the Juan Domingo Perón Institute said "this type of program causes great harm, because the disappearances are still an open wound here."[9] Some reacted negatively to Lenny's response to Carl's comment: "Plus, his wife was Madonna", a reference to the film Evita where Madonna played Eva Perón. Pepe added "the part about Madonna—that was too much."[9] Pepe's request for banning the episode was rejected by the Federal Broadcasting Committee of Argentina on freedom of speech grounds.[10]

In an unprecedented decision, Fox decided not to air the episode in Latin America, except in Brazil. In an e-mail sent later to the media, the network said that this decision was based on "the possibility that the episode would contribute to reopen wounds very painful to Argentina". The Federal Broadcasting Committee made it clear that the episode was not aired in Argentina by Fox's own choice.[10] Nevertheless, some national TV networks in the region (such as Caracol in Colombia, Canal 13 in Chile, Televen in Venezuela and TV Azteca in Mexico) have aired the episode. Finally, on February 19, 2013, Telefe broadcast the episode dubbed in Argentina.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Primetime Listings". FoxFlash. 2007-07-20. Retrieved 2007-12-18. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Keller, Richard. "E Pluribus Wiggum". TVsquad.com. Retrieved 2008-01-08. 
  3. ^ Cloud, John. A politician comes out. CNN.com. 1998-12-21. Retrieved 2010-03-22.
  4. ^ "Ethel Lamb Murrow, Egbert R. Murrow's mother". 
  5. ^ "E Pluribus Wiggum". Simpsons Channel. 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-01-09. Retrieved 2008-01-28. 
  6. ^ a b Canning, Robert. "Robert Canning's Review of "E. Pluribus Wiggum"". IGN. Retrieved 2008-04-16. 
  7. ^ Snierson, Dan (2008-01-11). "Why We're Endorsing The Grand Old Potty". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2008-05-04. 
  8. ^ Newbery, Charles (2008-04-14). "'Simpsons' stirs uproar in Argentina". Variety. Retrieved 2008-04-15. 
  9. ^ a b Reel, Monte (2008-04-17). "D'oh! 'Simpsons' Again Angers South Americans". Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-04-20. 
  10. ^ a b BBC Brasil (2008-07-30). "Referência a Perón leva TV argentina a não exibir 'Os Simpsons'". O Estado de S. Paulo. Retrieved 2009-10-24. 

External links[edit]