The Simpsons ambitiously tackled a feminist theme tonight in an episode dedicated to daughters, leaving something of a mixed message by the end. They acknowledge controversial truths about the American workforce when Homer confesses that all men are “on track to get all the good jobs.” But a curious omission left me wondering just how important a feminist message was to the writers.
It began with another “Take Your Daughter to Work Day” at the Springfield nuclear power plant (now with fewer actual girls attending due to unfortunate fertility issues), which is suffering thanks to the recent facility improvements made by Elon Musk. Mr. Burns’ new plan to regain power is to strike a uranium deal with a Nigerian king. If the deal fails, then Burns is resigned to retiring with Smithers to an island in the South Pacific. Smithers is, naturally, smitten with the idea. To facilitate the deal, the Nigerian king visits the power plant and brings along his daughter, a sheltered 25-year old princess voiced by model-turned-actress Yaya Dacosta (Lifetime’s Whitney biopic).
Needing someone to look after the princess, Mr. Burns relies on Homer who eventually introduces her to Moe, a recent victim of the infamous Nigerian prince email scam. After conversing over a beer, Moe begins to develop feelings for the princess, overlooking her potential connection to the scam. He takes her on a tour of Springfield (including a romantic view of the infamous Springfield tire fire) that is beautifully animated using a traditional African color palate. When photographed by the paparazzi innocently kissing Moe on the head, the princess is publicly shamed, and her father pulls out of the deal with Burns.
The admittedly amusing episode largely dealt with themes of unrequited love (Smithers and Mr. Burns; Moe and the princess) as well as leaving daughters to forge their own paths. What kind of bothered me, despite the pro-feminist note, is that you never actually find out the princess’s name. Is it me or is that counter-productive to the pervasive feminist method? To be fair, they don’t actually name the Nigerian king either. That brings up a much bigger issue, I’m afraid. It’s an unusual decision not to name the characters, particularly since African names have been ripe for comic foil going all the way back to Coming to America.
Despite the concerning subtext, there were several amusing observations and site gags sprinkled throughout the episode:
- The opening site gag has the Simpson family printed on a dot matrix printer.
- The giveaway prize at the end of “Take Your Daughter to Work Day” is a piece of orange driftwood to bite down on during childbirth.
- Mr. Burns lives next to Virgin mogul Richard Branson and steals electricity from him to charge the electric car given by Elon Musk.
- Thanks to cutbacks, Mr. Burns has to replace “the hounds” with teacup poodles. He also has a series of clones which are slowly escaping their freezer confinement. By the end of the episode, they are wandering the streets of Springfield, taunting Smithers.
- We are treated to a few of Smithers’ fantasies of the perfect life with Mr. Burns. They include Burns choosing fruit over an omelet and a sunset walk along a beach in Tahiti with said teacup poodles.
- Maggie casts an election ballot by mail by randomly punching out the chads and mailing in the ballot.
- Homer shows the Nigerian princess The Bachelor to which she responds, “So, all these concubines belong to one tyrant?”
- Moe offers a fantastic variation on the children’s classic “Goodnight Moon.” The lyrics include “Goodnight moon / Goodnight broom / Goodnight jukebox that won’t play a tune…”
- Moe has a bottle of Absolute Krusty vodka in the shape of Krusty the Clown’s head.