LAKE PLACID — This village made animation history for the second time Sunday night. That’s right: Lake Placid, among many other upstate New York communities, was referenced in “The Simpsons.”
America’s longest-running prime-time television family took a trip to Niagara Falls in their latest episode, “D’oh Canada.” Along the way, Bart and Homer laugh at tired towns and empty storefronts. Lisa asks how they can be so enthusiastic about a declining country.
“Cheer up, honey,” Homer says. “We’re heading to the one place that can never decline because it was never that great: Upstate New York.”
Homer then sings about the lovable mediocrity of upstate New York to the tune of Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York.” As he highlights upstaters’ affinity for Fox News, hot wings and booze, he stops by the Anchor Bar in Buffalo for some wings, gets his degree at Mohawk Valley Community College and becomes mayor of Oriskany, a village of 0.8 square miles in Oneida County.
At one point, Roni the Raccoon, the mascot for the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, dances in a kick line along with a lotto ticket, an opioid pill, a jar of borscht, a dime (FDR was from Hyde Park) and Otto the Orange from Syracuse University.
Other gags include Homer sitting in a nearly empty New Era Field home of the Buffalo Bills and a scene of the Kodak Park in Rochester getting demolished. However, the logic of Homer’s montage through upstate New York comes into question when he’s seen drinking a Duff beer with the Headless Horseman of Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Sleepy Hollow a village in Westchester County, only about a 45-minute train ride to Yankee Stadium — downstate in many people’s minds.
This isn’t the first time “The Simpsons” referenced Lake Placid. In the 2004 episode “She Used to Be My Girl,” Marge imagines what her life would be like if she pursued her dream of journalism, reporting on the “Miracle on Ice” that never happened.
Emmy winner Tim Long of Ontario co-wrote Sunday’s episode with his wife Miranda Thompson. According to the Canadian Press, Long said for years the show has been making fun of Canada.
“I remember the day when we taught them that the Canadian one-dollar coin was called a loonie and the two-dollar coin was called a toonie. Oh, that shut down work for several hours because nobody could believe it,” Long told the Canadian Press. “So you’ll often find that the references on the show to Canada haven’t been written by Canadians, but they’ve been written by Americans looking across the table at a Canadian and thinking, ‘What the hell is with that guy?’”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s senior adviser Rich Azzopardi responded to the episode on Twitter.
“There always remains work to be done but — dumb cheap shots aside — facts are facts: jobs are up, unemployment is down, millennials are coming back and it’s clear that Poochie was an uncredited writer on that episode,” he said. “However, I still want a Fighting Hellfish tattoo.”
Any seasoned “Simpsons” fan would know Poochie is the cartoon dog Homer voiced in the season 8 episode “The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show.” He was a joke on the influx of radical, edgy and extreme comic book and cartoon characters that wound up being way less cool than intended.
Azzopardi mistakenly wrote “Fighting Hellfish” in his tweet when it’s actually “Flying Hellfish” that was Abraham Simpson’s military unit in World War II.
Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism CEO and President Jim McKenna laughed at the idea of “The Simpsons” spoofing Lake Placid, but he didn’t want to comment until he’s seen the episode.
One of “The Simpsons’” more popular upstate New York references was in season 7 when Principal Skinner served a plate of Krusty Burgers to Superintendent Chalmers and called them “steamed hams,” despite the fact that they were obviously grilled. Skinner claimed the expression is from upstate New York. Chalmers, a Utica native, says he’s never heard it before. Skinner replies that it’s an Albany phrase. It’s since become an internet meme.