‘Simpsons’ Jokes About America That Flew Over Non-Americans’ Heads
The Simpsons may have international appeal, but, when it comes down to it, Matt Groening’s masterpiece is most relatable to those fans in the 49 states — we’re still not willing to recognize Missourah.
As one of America’s greatest cultural exports, The Simpsons has been dubbed or subtitled into 35 different languages across the globe. Along with the usual translation issues associated with idioms and cultural norms that aren’t quite as global as The Simpsons itself, the tendency for Simpsons writers to satirize American society in ways that are inscrutably idiosyncratic to those outside the Land of the Free has led to some confusing moments for the show’s foreign fandom.
Over in the Simpsons subreddit, fans from across the world gathered recently to request explanations for jokes that don’t travel quite as well as McDonald’s or Coca-Cola. Here are the jokes about America that sailed over the heads of international fans like the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria hitting a sick wave…
Why Is Crab Juice Worse Than Mountain Dew?
Though beloved by America’s bearded-neck population, Mountain Dew is only slightly less toxic and offensive to the international palate than the stuff they used to wash away Radioactive Man. The goggles probably won’t do anything for Code Red, either.
Who Is Rosie O’Donnell, and Why Is Death Preferable to Her Singing?
To be fair, this one might be puzzling even to younger Americans who missed O’Donnell’s heyday. The comedian and A League of Their Own star was a huge proponent of Broadway musicals, but even facing certain death, Bart and Homer would rather be suffocated by the vacuum of space than by the sound of O’Donnell’s pipes.
Why Did Homerpalooza Skip Cincinnati and Cleveland?
Non-Americans might not know that the best part of visiting Ohio is leaving Ohio.
Why Would Starving Children Still Not Want to Eat at Arby’s?
Though Arby’s has expanded overseas to countries like Costa Rica, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, there is still something distinctly American about only eating an artery-clogging beef slop sandwich when the alternative is starvation.
What Is PBS, and Why Did They Make Betty White Shake Down Their Viewers?
America may be lacking many of the public services that are commonplace in the rest of the world — looking at you, the health care industry — but our state-funded, non-profit broadcasting service is a peculiar national feature that requires regular pledge drives to stay afloat. Don’t be a thief!
Who The Hell Is Bob Dole, and Why Is He Holding Hands With the President?
The 1996 episode “Treehouse of Horror VII” put forth one of the most iconic comedic criticisms of America’s two-party system, but our red-versus-blue style of democracy doesn’t make sense in countries where voters can’t decide which leader to pick based on a coin flip.
What’s Going on in Branson/Bronson, Missouri?
Surely, international fans would be familiar with the work of actor Charles Bronson, but the city of Branson doesn’t have quite the overseas name recognition. Not that any part of Missourah deserves recognition.
Why Did Moe Cover His Mouth Before Professing His Love for *The Atlanta Falcons*?
The punchline here is that the animation for the Super Bowl XXXIII episode would have to be finished long before the two teams playing in the big game would be decided, so the Falcons themselves aren’t actually the joke here — unlike in Super Bowl LI.