As a fan of The Simpsons I was more than thrilled hearing about Iceland being featured in an episode of the popular show.
It was also announced that Icelandic band Sigur Rós would contribute music to the show.
All of my Icelandic friends went nuts. I mean, The Simpsons is a pretty cool show and loved all over the world. Actually, I’ve never ever met anyone who has said The Simpsons? Nope, don’t like that show.”
And now there was going to be a whole episode set in Iceland? Unbelievable! This is very big for Iceland.
For those of you who have missed this great event of television, here is a short summary of the episode titled The Saga of Carl, a nice reference to Iceland’s famous saga tradition.
The story goes like this: Homer Simpson and his friends Moe, Carl and Lenny, win the local lottery in Springfield. When Carl runs off with their lottery money, the three remaining buddies track him down. Carl, as it turns out, is of Icelandic origin and makes for his home country. That’s how Homer, Moe and Lenny end up flying to Iceland.
When arriving in Reykjavík, the three friends start asking people on the street about the whereabouts of Carl and funnily everybody seems to know each other. Yes, there are only about 320,000 people living on this island and it is true that one gets to know a lot of people very fast. Even I, who wasn’t born in Iceland, have by now established a big network of friends here.
When Homer, Moe and Lenny drive to the countryside looking for Carl, we get to see some of Iceland’s famous landscape: waterfalls, lava fields, sulfur springs, volcanoes etc. They stake out Carl’s family’s house in their car and Moe complains about being bored and wishing he would have to look at something else but the driver manages to miss the Northern Lights, trolls and elves dancing around the car.
This was actually quite funny.
Northern Lights are breathtaking, that is true, but only very few Icelanders really believe in the existence of elves and trolls, that is to be said.
When the three drinking buddies finally confront Carl, he explains why he stole the money: when Iceland was raided sometime in the past, Carl’s family lost their honor by not protecting the country from the invaders. To restore his family’s honor, Carl intends to use the stolen money to buy a lost page from the sagas proving that his forefathers, in fact, were not the cowards they allegedly were.
Homer, Moe and Lenny take the saga page and study Icelandic to be able to translate it. Miraculously they manage to learn this tricky language within a very short term. Oh, I wish that was possible...
After realizing that Carl’s family were even bigger cowards than they were initially thought to be, they three friends decide to save the Carlson family by telling everyone in Iceland what a honorable guy Carl is. To do so, they gather a small crowd in front of Hallgrímskirkja including the members of Sigur Rós and Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardottir.
Homer asks the crowd if that was all of Iceland and someone replies “No.” When another man joins the crowd, someone comments that they were complete now. I loved this joke about Iceland’s small population.
So Homer, Lenny and Moe tell the crowd how Carl has helped them in the past which totally woes people restores Carl’s family’s honor.
At the end is all good and well.
It was nice to see the guys from Springfield wearing the typical Icelandic wool sweater lopapeysa during their stay on the island, but sadly the design wasn’t right, but I guess the idea counts.
I also liked the way Reykjavík was depicted, one could recognize some popular landmarks such as the mighty Hallgrímskirkja and the statue of Leifur Eíriksson just in front of it, the beautiful sculpture Sólfar (‘Sun Voyager’) down by the sea and so on.
Homer snacking on Iceland’s delicacy hákarl (fermented shark) was also quite funny as most visitors don’t like this peculiar dish.
And needless to say that the exit music, the famous Simpsons theme, played by Sigur Rós in their characteristic manner, was the cherry on top.
I read a few days after the episode was aired that outgoing Prime Minister Jóhanna was pleasantly surprised seeing herself as a cartoon version.
If I was to be in The Simpsons...
I cannot even imagine...
Although the episode had its nice moments and managed to capture some typical Icelandic characteristics, I think the episode wasn’t as good as it could have been.
But I don’t want to complain, this is The Simpsons!
Katharina Hauptmann - firstname.lastname@example.org