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The Simpsons Review: El Barto Returns

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Although that Game of Thrones inspired couch gag was pretty awesome, even it couldn't save this lackluster episode.

"Exit Through the Kwik-E-Mart," drawing on the the Banksy-driven documentary Exit through the Gift Shop, alluded to both the graffiti of Bart's thinly veiled alter-ego "El Barto" and Apu's business troubles. The show had an interesting premise, but ultimately couldn't really deliver the laughs.

The funniest part came in the rather underplayed B-plot involving Apu dealing with some competition. Springfield gets a Swapper Jack's, which boasts such wonderful items as white wine, "grass fed lettuce" and "six aisles of olives." The Trader Joe's parody was spot on and definitely got a giggle out of me.

The novelty of the new store draws Apu's customers away, and the great products keep them from coming back to the Kwik-E-Mart. This gave Apu plenty of opportunities to fight for his patrons, leading to the most amusing scenes of the night. His sword toothpick fight with Homer was nicely done, but it only got him restrained in a Hawaiian t-shirt.

The Swapper Jack's is such a drain on Apu's business that he resorts to holding up the place. In a great reversal, he pulls a gun on Snake, a newly hired checker. This plot was a well employed distraction from the dullness of the main storyline, but I felt like it was hastily resolved. Suddenly Apu's competition is gone and the Kwik-E-Mart is saved. Obviously, Apu's business has to bounce back, but this plot didn't have to be rushed to its inevitable conclusion.

The Apu-story was mostly sacrificed so we could be "treated" to the guest vocal appearance of Shepard Fairey. So they couldn't snag Bansky for this episode because... well... no one knows who he is. Bart learned a very important lesson about anonymity that Banksy figured out at the beginning of his graffiti career: once people know who you are, you'll be held accountable for your criminal "art."

Fairey was a good alternative for Banksy as a much more visible graffiti artist, but his presence didn't really add anything to the show other than racking up another guest star for The Simpsons. Plus, isn't Fairey and the grafitti art craze kind of over?

Bart's usual graffiti evolved into a more Banksy-esque protest art, and his work was interesting to see. The pictures were nice parodies of famous Banksy images, and his iconic Homer/Dope image did nicely reference Fairey's own "Obey" piece. But that was about all this whole plot had going for it: pretty pictures.

As we all know, this sitcom, is great at parody, but is that enough? Ponder that question as you sort through our updated section of The Simpsons quotes.


Editor Rating: 3.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.9 / 5.0 (30 Votes)
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This episode was far too silly. I hated the idea of Bart enjoying sleeping in a rabbit cage and none of the graffiti bits were that funny.


after a rather disappointing 500th episode i have to admit this one has been pretty good.


"Laughter", you are absolutely right. People keep saying that the new Simpsons episodes suck, but these episodes, like the classic ones, contain highly intelligent and subtle humour that, without doubt, puts all the other stuff that comes on tv to bed.


Wow. I can't believe you didn't get the whole joke. This was the best thinking man's episode I've ever seen, the amount of hidden jokes and references was pure genius. I suggest you read a few books, maybe take in popular culture, think of wordplay and look up witticism in the dictionary. Then finally actually watch the movie that this was based on Then watch the episode again. I feel sorry for you all who missed the brilliance of this episode. DOPE. (Did you even get that joke?) Let me explain just that tiny one for you 'Do'h - p'. Say it out loud.


I forgot: the GoT intro was amazing.


The 'Game of Thrones' intro was worth watching the entire episode. Nice gag on 'Burn's Landing,' and 'The Couch.'


Apu holding up Snake was great and the plastic sword fight was good but the episode was mediocre.