The Sweetest Apu
"The Sweetest Apu" is the nineteenth episode of The Simpsons' thirteenth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on May 5, 2002. In the episode, Homer and his wife Marge discover that convenience store owner Apu is having an affair with the Squishee delivery lady working in his store. It is up to Marge, Homer and Apu to try to keep his wife Manjula from learning his secret.
"The Sweetest Apu" was written by John Swartzwelder and directed by Matthew Nastuk. It features Inside the Actors Studio host James Lipton as himself. It also features references to The New Yorker, photographer Richard Avedon and the film Wild Wild West. In its original broadcast, the episode was seen by approximately 7.1 million viewers and finished in 37rd[clarification needed] place in the ratings the week it aired. Following its home video release on August 24, 2010, the episode received mostly negative reviews from critics.
Apu sells Homer a beer keg for the American Civil War reenactment of the Battle of Springfield. At the reenactment, Principal Skinner watches as Springfielders disobey him and hold a rather inaccurate battle (featuring an orange plaid clad "East" faction, a roller skating Stone Wall Jackson, and a giant robotic spider made by Professor Frink). After the battle, Homer brings the empty, dented keg back to Apu at the Kwik-E-Mart in an attempt to get the deposit. There, he hears a giggle coming from a closet and finds Apu making love with the woman who delivers Squishees to Kwik-E-Mart. He then walks backwards in shock all the way home to his bed and then dreams about walking backwards when he falls asleep.
Marge figures out what Homer saw from the movements of his pupil. They decide not to tell Manjula but while they are playing Badminton Homer and Marge act awkwardly with Manjula and Apu looking at them, trying not to give out hints Apu cheated on Manjula. They then confront Apu and he says he will break up with the Squishee Lady named Annette. However, he breaks his promise (as it gets his mind off the octuplets). Later, Manjula watches the surveillance footage of Apu cheating. To help get them together, Homer and Marge invite them both to dinner, but do not tell them that the other one is coming. After a failed attempt with Bart and Lisa, Apu tries to promise to Manjula that he will change, but Manjula refuses to listen and demands a divorce.
Kicked out, Apu moves into the apartment complex where Kirk Van Houten lives. The octuplets then speak their first words, which put together, say "Mommy, will you let daddy come back...cookie!" Marge and Manjula go to Apu's and arrive in time to prevent him from hanging himself. Apu is then subjected to several tasks to redeem himself (such as eating a light bulb), though Manjula says it will take time for everything to get back to normal. In bed, Manjula, finally satisfied with what he has done, kisses Apu while Homer watches from the window, on a ladder. The couple continues and Homer, traumatized, hops backwards on the ladder all the way home, without falling, mimicking what he did earlier.
Production and cultural references
"The Sweetest Apu" was written by former Simpsons writer John Swartzwelder and directed by director Matthew Nastuk. It was first broadcast on the Fox network in the United States on May 5, 2002. After seeing Apu cheating on Manjula with the squishee girl, an extensive scene in which Homer dramatically backs out of the room, into the Simpson house and into his bed is shown. The scene was conceived by episode writer Swartzwelder. Another scene in the episode shows Apu breaking up with the Squishee lady in front of her house. Originally, police chief Clancy Wiggum would be seen in a robe inside the house, implying that other men in Springfield cheat on their wives as well, however it was dismissed because the writers thought it would look "too sad." Originally, Swartzwelder wanted the kama sutra sex position in the episode to show several arms and legs "sticking out in crazy positions," however it received a censor note and the Simpsons staff were allowed to show "less and less" of it as time progressed.
The episode features American writer and actor James Lipton, host of the television program Inside the Actors Studio, as himself. The divorce lawyer was portrayed by series regular voice actor Hank Azaria, and was based on "many lawyers that the writing staff had faced," according to current show runner Al Jean. Professor Frink's steam-powered "Super-spider" seen during the reenactment is a reference to the 1999 steampunk film Wild Wild West. One of Apu's promises to Manjula is to get a comic strip printed in The New Yorker. American photographer Richard Avedon is also mentioned in the episode.
In its original American broadcast on May 5, 2002, "The Sweetest Apu" received a 6.7 rating, according to Nielsen Media Research, translating to approximately 7.1 million viewers. The episode finished in 37th[clarification needed] place in the ratings for the week of April 29-May 5, 2002. On August 24, 2010, "The Sweetest Apu" was released as part of The Simpsons: The Complete Thirteenth Season DVD and Blu-ray set. Al Jean, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Matt Selman, Tim Long, Dan Castellaneta, James Lipton and Matt Warburton participated in the audio commentary of the episode.
Following its home video release, "The Sweetest Apu" received mostly negative reviews from critics. DVD Movie Guide's Colin Jacobson wrote "I don’t recall ever being particularly excited by other Manjula episodes, and 'Sweetest' does nothing to alter that perception." He praised Homer's reaction to seeing Apu cheating on Manjula, but maintained that "much of the remaining gags tend to be lackluster." He concluded by writing "This ends up as a pretty flat, forgettable show." Project-Blu's Nate Boss called it "An average episode, by this season's standards," describing it as "a bit too cut and dry for my taste." Writing for Blu-ray.com, Casey Broadwater wrote that "The Sweetest Apu" is "near-laughless," and Ryan Keefer of DVD Talk wrote "The less said about this episode, the better." Both reviewers considered the episode to be one of the season's worst.[nb 1] On the other hand, giving the episode a positive review, Jennifer Malkowski of DVD Verdict gave the episode a B, praising the "Badminton [scene] and its many double entendres" as the episode's "highlight."
- Blu-ray.com's Casey Broadwater wrote, "Thankfully, there are only a few episodes that scrape the bottom of the Simpsons barrel. The Sweetest Apu—in which the Kwik-E-Mart clerk has an affair with the Squishee delivery woman— is near-laughless." Ryan Keefer of DVD Talk wrote, "Does Jean manage to get The Simpsons to reclaim some of the tarnish off the crown? Sure, but it's not without its duds; 'The Sweetest Apu' and 'The Old Man and The Key' were borderline painful."
- Jean, Al. (2010). Commentary for "The Sweetest Apu", in The Simpsons: The Complete Thirteenth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- Selman, Matt. (2010). Commentary for "The Sweetest Apu", in The Simpsons: The Complete Thirteenth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- Castellaneta, Dan. (2010). Commentary for "The Sweetest Apu", in The Simpsons: The Complete Thirteenth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- Lipton, James. (2010). Commentary for "The Sweetest Apu", in The Simpsons: The Complete Thirteenth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- Long Beach Press-Telegram (CA) (May 8, 2002). "THIS WEEK'S TOP TELEVISION SHOWS".
- Jacobson, Colin (September 2, 2010). "The Simpsons: The Complete Thirteenth Season [Blu-Ray] (2001)". DVD Movie Guide. Retrieved May 19, 2011.
- Boss, Nate (September 8, 2010). "The Simpsons: The Thirteenth Season". Project-Blu. Retrieved May 19, 2011.
- Broadwater, Casey (September 5, 2010). "The Simpsons: The Thirteenth Season Blu-ray Review". Blu-ray.com. Retrieved May 19, 2011.
- Keefer, Ryan (August 31, 2010). "The Simpsons: The 13th Season (Blu-ray)". DVD Talk. Retrieved May 18, 2011.
- Malkowski, Jennifer (September 6, 2010). "The Simpsons: The Complete Thirteenth Season (Blu-Ray)". DVD Verdict. Retrieved May 19, 2011.
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- "The Sweetest Apu" at The Simpsons.com
- "The Sweetest Apu" episode capsule at The Simpsons Archive
- "The Sweetest Apu" at the Internet Movie Database
- "The Sweetest Apu" at TV.com