"Much Apu About Nothing
" is the 23rd episode of The Simpsons seventh season
On an ordinary day, a brown bear
strolls onto Evergreen Terrace, frightening the town. Everyone is advised to stay indoors. The bear is eventually subdued by the police, who tranquilize
it. Homer convinces Springfield
that something needs to be done to protect them from bears, and the town takes their complaint to Mayor Quimby
. Soon, the Bear Patrol is created, a useless organization which makes use of helicopters
, police cars
, and even a B-2
stealth bomber. Homer feels happy to know that the Bear Patrol is doing their job, as there are no bears around. Lisa
knows the patrol does nothing (there had never been any bears in the town before), but Homer thinks it does since no more bears have been seen. Homer is then shocked to see taxes
have been raised five dollars to maintain the Bear Patrol. This warrants another visit by the town to the Mayor's office. To calm the ignorant people down, Mayor Quimby blames the high taxes on illegal immigrants. He then creates Proposition
24, which will have all illegal immigrants from Springfield to be deported.
Springfield starts to harass and hate all immigrants. At home, Lisa tries to talk about the benefits of immigration, even explaning how the Simpson family's ancestors immigrated to America. but she does not convince the family to vote against Proposition 24. At the Kwik-E-Mart, Apu confides in Homer that he is an illegal immigrant. He explains that if Proposition 24 passes, he will be deported, as his visa expired many years earlier because he stayed in the U.S. by choice. When he tells this to Marge, she feels sorry for him, and tells him she will vote "no" on Proposition 24, although it clearly will not be enough to help Apu. Apu is forced to go to Fat Tony to obtain a false United States citizenship. On Fat Tony's advice, he starts "acting American", by doing things like speaking with an American accent. However, he realizes he has disgraced his parents by turning his back on his Indian heritage, and tears up the fake passport that Fat Tony gave him.
Homer vows that the Simpsons will help him. Lisa, having read the citizenship laws front to back, discovers that Apu will not get deported if he can pass a US citizenship test, because he had been in North America for a long time. Homer agrees to be his tutor to help prepare for the exam. Apu demonstrates excellent knowledge of the United States, but Homer is a terrible tutor and replaces Apu's knowledge with false information. Apu falls asleep while studying the false information, but forgets it all when he wakes up, which Lisa is overjoyed about. Apu then goes to take the written and oral test. Because he originally knew a lot about History of the United States, Apu passes the test and becomes a citizen of the United States. At a congratulatory party, Homer tells his guests how terrible it would be if immigrants were deported, explaining they make the U.S. thrive. He inspires them to vote "no" on Proposition 24, but it still passes, with 95% of the population voting "yes". The episode ends with Apu happy that he is a U.S. citizen, and Groundskeeper Willie (seemingly) being the only person deported.
The DVD commentary for this episode reveals that the original title was going to be "The Anti-Immigrant Song" in reference to the Led Zeppelin
song, Immigrant Song
- The episode is a satire of California Proposition 187 and similar state anti-immigration bills that followed in the mid-late 1990s.
- The title is a spoof on the William Shakespeare play Much Ado About Nothing.
- Moe says that the Bears are "smarter than the aver-age bear" and "they swiped my pic-a-nic basket" in an homage to the Yogi Bear cartoons. After the crowd leaves Quimby's office, however, it's revealed that it was actually Quimby himself who stole Moe's picnic basket, not a bear.
- The "I Want You ... Out!" poster is similar to the famous Uncle Sam army recruitment poster.
- Apu's parents in the flashback scene resemble the parents of the character for which he was named, the eponymous protagonist of Satyajit Ray's Apu Trilogy. You also see Manjula for the first time.
- In a cutaway depicting Chief Wiggum and his men preparing to deport the immigrants, he tells them to "first round up your tired, then your poor, then your huddled masses yearning to breathe free", a reference to the inscription on the Statue of Liberty.
- Frink's prediction that computers would become ever larger and costlier is a play on the old belief, often attributed to IBM Chairman Thomas Watson, that the world market for computers was limited to just a handful of people and companies.
- After mayor Quimby introduces proposition 24 a magazine is shown with a picture of Quimby that is uncannily like that of Hitler.
- The Bear Patrol plane is a B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber.
- The chant Homer's mob repeats as they march on the mayor's office, "We're here! We're queer! We don't want any more bears!", is a reference to Queer Nation. Homer even mentions he heard it "at the mustache parade they have every year", which he meant a gay pride parade.