Twenty seasons, 450 episodes, 23 Emmy Awards — and it all led up to a story line about Jewish intermarriage.
“The Simpsons” celebrated two decades on television January 10, airing a celebrity-packed episode that skewered long-standing targets, such as the show’s nuclear power plant and patriarch Homer Simpson’s obsession with doughnuts. In a jab at those who would tinker with the long-running series, the episode’s plot is set in motion by meddlesome TV executives who force the show’s favorite burned-out entertainer, Krusty the Clown (born Herschel Shmoikel Pinchas Yerucham Krustofski), to add a new co-host to his children’s after-school TV program.
Despite initial tensions, Krusty soon hits it off romantically with the sidekick, Princess Penelope, voiced by “The Devil Wears Prada” star Anne Hathaway.
The pair’s wedding plans generate pointed ambivalence in Krusty’s father — long familiar to fans as Rabbi Hyman Krustofski — who can’t quite restrain himself while performing the ceremony. “Friends, loved ones,” says the rabbi, voiced by Jackie Mason, “we are gathered here today to marry a Jew and — a Congregationalist? Is that even a thing?”
Following an interruption by Bart Simpson — who reveals that he has locked a monkey in the synagogue’s “Torah room” — the ceremony is called off, only for a distraught Krusty to follow his beloved to Paris for a reunion. Although she hasn’t converted, Princess Penelope reveals her appreciation for Krusty’s Jewish roots, proclaiming him her “Borscht Belt baby” in the episode’s closing scene.
Krusty, who had a midlife bar mitzvah ceremony in a 2003 episode titled “Today, I Am a Clown,” expresses satisfaction that sounds Yiddish. As the pair floats down the Seine, he declares, “I’d rather be a happy shnook than a noble shlumpf.”
This story "‘The Simpsons’ Tackle Jewish Intermarriage" was written by Nathan Burstein.