Before I learned that I would live in Albania for two years, I was like perhaps many Americans of my generation in that my only knowledge of Albania was based on one episode of The Simpsons. Re-watching, I wanted to share some of my favorite parts of this hilarious episode .
Brief intro: Comrade Homer and Principle Skinner are both ready to be rid of the troublesome Bart. They decide to send him to France as an exchange student while the Simpsons family will host a student from Albania.
I hadn’t remembered that they actually speak Albanian in this episode… or kind of speak Albanian. They say “I will miss you”, “write us frequently”, and finally “mirupafshim” (goodbye). Some of it is incoherent because the speakers are not Albanian speakers. Watching this episode as a little kid was actually the very first time I would hear an Albanian word. Little did I know that one day I would be speaking this language all day long.
This is perhaps a reference to the fact that former dictator Enver Hoxha wrote volumes upon volumes of his political thoughts. Or perhaps a reference to the fact Albania remained the most communist of all communist countries even at the time of this episode’s airing in 1990.
The question is, what would Albania in 1990 do with information about nuclear power? At this point the communist government had all but fallen apart and people didn’t even have food to eat. I’ll forgive the Simpsons’ writers because its a pretty clever story, regardless.
So in the end, Adil is caught for spying, Bart is reunited with his family after being more or less enslaved at a winery, and Homer promises to send Adil those civil defense plans he wanted 🙂
As a fan of the Simpsons who lives in Albania, this episode will always be special to me. Regardless of how much of the language or culture or history of Albania I learn, nothing can change the fact that my life’s first hint of Albania was this irreverent episode of the Simpsons. And I wouldnt have had it any other way!