The Simpsons Episode Well-Received by Ethiopians On Social Media

Last month's episode of "The Simpsons" experiencing delicious Ethiopian cuisine at an imaginary restaurant in Los Angeles was popular among Ethiopians on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and elsewhere. (Above image: From The Simpsons "The Food Wife" episode)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Friday, December 2, 2011

New York (TADIAS) – It is not everyday that we encounter a positive portrayal of Ethiopian culture in Western comedy and literature. So it was refreshing to see the recent episode of The Simpsons, one of America’s favorite animated-cartoon family sharing a meal at a fictional restaurant in L.A’s Little Ethiopia. The segment, which aired in November, was a hit among Ethiopians who tweeted and posted a portion of the episode in social media circles.

“It was tastefully and respectfully done,” said Woizero Negest Legesse, Director of the Little Ethiopia Cultural and Resource Center in Los Angeles. “Who knew gursha would become so popular?”

“I saw the clips on YouTube and it was great,” said Leelai Demoz, an Ethiopian-American Academy Award-nominated television and film producer. Mr. Demoz said he was impressed by the due diligence that went into creating the neighborhood and cultural scenes. “I thought it was a very well done clip by someone who has obviously spent a lot of time in Little Ethiopia,” he enthused.

“We are so happy because The Simpsons put on the map not only this neighborhood, but also our food and culture in general,” Woizero Negest said. “As a matter of fact we are writing a thank you letter to the them.” She added. “We want to invite them back for a coffee ceremony.”

Chef Marcus Samuelsson blogged: “We love it when we see Ethiopian culture injected into pop culture.” He added, “The episode was accurate in finding traditional Ethiopian music and also highlighting the custom of gursha where Ethiopians lovingly offer food to one another.”

The Simpsons’ adventure starts when their car breaks down in Little Ethiopia, the stretch of Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles between Olympic and Pico Boulevards. The area is lined with Ethiopian businesses and restaurants. Luckily for them, their car malfunctions right across from an eatery. Initially Marge (the mother) is visibly concerned. But she has no choice but to follow her hungry kids (Bart and Lisa) into a restaurant. The reluctant mom was still uncomfortable with the milieu of the Ethiopian restaurant such as its display of CDs for sale. The humor does not stop there. Soon enough her taste buds will be dancing eskista while eating some delicious-looking traditional Ethiopian food served on a large platter. “Holy casserole-y!” says Marge. “That’s good gloop!” Bart agrees with his mother: “I wish I lived in Ethiopia.” But Lisa is the most descriptive. “Exotic, vegetarian, I can mention it in a college essay,” she says. “Mom, this is amazing!”

Mr. Demoz said when done right animated shows are powerful tools for creative and entertaining expression of social messages, but they are also hard work. “With animation you have so much freedom to express oneself, that the taste buds dancing seems like a logical and normal thing to see,” Mr. Demoz said. “I have never worked in that form so I am in awe of their talents. I have spent time with animators on a TV show and I can tell you that what seemed like a short three minute clip, took months and months to execute.”

“Who knew their car would break down right in Little Ethiopia?” said Woizero Negest. “We are delighted it did.”

Photos: LA’s Little Ethiopia Street Festival (2011)
In Pictures: The Street Named Little Ethiopia in L.A. (2008)

11 Responses to “The Simpsons Episode Well-Received by Ethiopians On Social Media”

  1. 1 Mulugeta Dec 1st, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    Interesting article… left me wanting to read more.

  2. 2 Kidest Dec 1st, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    i LOVE IT!! If the waitress was Abesha, her Amharic accent would have been authentic. Still right on the mark.

  3. 3 Mengonte Dec 1st, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    It was a hilarious show..whoever produced I give them A+.

  4. 4 mimi Dec 1st, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    It really is a sign of the times that social media has made this little 3 min clip the topic of discussion for a couple weeks. From peers to family members everyone had seen it and it was something to brag about. It is amazing.

  5. 5 Kassu Dec 1st, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    It is an excellent piece and an accurate portrayal. I showed the episode in my class and all my students liked it. Thank you the Simpson for such a wonderful job! I also thank those Ethiopians who worked hard to create such a positive image. It is a product of hardworking and dedicated Ethiopians.

  6. 6 antonio Dec 4th, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    this is a great start to showing the good things about ethiopia . I love it. For too long american society recycles all the past images and didnt bother to take a deeper look at the people and culture. God Bless Ethiopia.

  7. 7 leyu G Jan 14th, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    Beautifully done!!!

  8. 8 meseret Jan 28th, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    Well done!!! and funny

  9. 9 Eluers Jun 3rd, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    What was this ethiopian song? I would like to find out

  10. 10 Nellie Jun 3rd, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    haha i liked the song

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