October 19, 2021

Oh ‘doh’: ‘Simpsons’ takes shots at upstate New York

Image from 20th Century Fox

Rochester took a shot. Utica got ripped. Syracuse got skewered. Niskayuna? Well, the supervisor had a few words.

“The Simpsons” turned a snarky eye on the entirety of upstate New York in its Sunday episode on the Fox network, lampooning the region, chicken wings, the population decline, Kodak, the Syracuse Orange and winter to the tune of “New York, New York.”

“We’re headed to the one place that can never decline because it was never that great: upstate New York,” Homer said.

Stinging, and a comment, in verse, that brought response from New York’s political leaders.

“Were they fair?” asked new state Conservative Party Chairman Gerard Kassar during a stop Tuesday in Cortland as he canvasses the region with an eye toward 2020 campaigns. “They were accurate.”

Personally, as a New Yorker and Brooklyn native, Kassar said he’d love to attack the show and its producers, “But some of this is of our own making. ‘The Simpsons’ brought into the national spotlight a problem.”

Wing sauce, to be sure. The image of people standing outside a Kodak plant taking selfies as the plant collapses in on itself?

“’The Simpsons’ may be a comedy, but the failures under Andrew Cuomo are no laughing matter,” state Republican Chairman Ed Cox said in a statement. “New York went from being the Empire State to the butt of jokes.”

“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,” tweeted Rich Azzopardi, an adviser to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. “However, I still want a Fighting Hellfish tattoo.”

Niskayuna Supervisor Yasmine Syed invited the Simpsons — Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie — to stop by and see that the water tower doesn’t leak, and maybe even stay.

The New York State Fair got in on the act, also inviting the Simpsons, or perhaps their real-world creators.

“We know it’s just a TV show, we can certainly take a joke and we love ‘The Simpsons,’ but there’s so much that’s great about the region,” said fair Director Troy Waffner. “We’re attracting high-tech industries to upstate, Utica is the home of the halfmoon cookie and tomato pie, the star pitcher Patrick Corbin attended Mohawk Valley Community College, and Buffalo has some of the best architecture of any major city in the Northeast. We’ll show them a great time.”

Perhaps he forgot the the ice cream sundae was invented in Ithaca (and the chicken nugget), or that Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling hung his hat nearby.

But the real question isn’t whether Simpsons producers were taking a serious dig at upstate New York. It’s where Homer Simpson was born. The bit marks him a graduate of Mohawk Valley Community College, so he’s probably a native of somewhere close.

Smyrna, maybe? Or Virgil? Marathon, perhaps, or Sempronius?

How about Homer?