An effort to shake off some homesickness led Adam DuBourdieu to mix pop culture and provincial politics — namely, taking politicians involved in this election and matching them with their visual counterparts on "The Simpsons."
Originally from Kippens on the province’s west coast, DuBourdieu, 30, moved to Edmonton, Alta., just before the COVID-19 pandemic set in.
As with many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, he experienced homesickness in the months that followed the move.
A keen follower of local politics when living in the province, DuBourdieu set about combatting his traveller’s lament by having some fun with the upcoming provincial election.
Combining his love for "The Simpsons" and politics, he matched the politicians running in the election with the Simpsons character he saw as their cartoon counterparts.
“I always loved watching 'The Simpsons,'” DuBourdieu. “I watched it with my dad.”
Some matchups were tough, while others were easy fits, such as the NDP’s Jim Dinn, a former schoolteacher, and his match with Principal Skinner.
"You can't take yourself too seriously. Being a teacher, that's par for the course," Dinn said of that character match.
Dinn has seen the rather large social media thread containing the pictures.
He said that as a teacher, he learned long ago that you have to have a sense of humour, and it's a lesson he's taken with him to politics. Seeing the thread, he took it in good fun.
He said it could be worse. It could turn into a meme like a recent picture of United States Senator Bernie Sanders.
"Let's have a laugh with it," said Dinn. "It's a good thing. It's a bit of good fun."
The result was a 47-part thread on Twitter filled with pictures of the politicians and their characters side by side. It is a mixture of retiring MHAs, incumbents and party leaders of all political stripes.
"The Simpsons" and politics have a bit of history. Across its 32 seasons, the show has mixed humour and politics.
The show seemingly predicted the start of the United States presidency of Donald J. Trump, and the Lisa Simpson presidency that followed him.
Coincidentally, Torngat Mountains MHA Lela Evans is paired with the presidential Lisa.
The relationship, however, between "The Simpsons" and the political arena doesn’t stop at a coincidental presidential prediction.
The show has often tackled topics of the day, such as same-sex marriage and gun control, and it has often been accused of having a liberal bias. Springfield’s Mayor Quimby is a regularly appearing character, and DuBourdieu saw him as a perfect match for Conception Bay East-Bell Island incumbent David Brazil.
Homer Simpson — coupled with Topsail-Paradise MHA Paul Dinn — once fought former U.S. president George H.W. Bush after the two became neighbours. Former U.S. presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Gerald Ford have also made cameo appearances on the show.
DuBourdieu tabbed Ford as the right match with Mount Pearl North MHA Jim Lester.
“Politics has always been in 'The Simpsons,' and Newfoundland politics has some characters,” said DuBourdieu.
Harbour Grace-Port de Grave MHA Pam Parsons knew at once who voiced Bart Simpsons’ former babysitter, Laura Powers.
“That’s the one where Darlene from Roseanne voiced the character. Sara Gilbert,” she said.
Like other children of the ’80s and early ’90s, Parsons grew up in the early years of "The Simpsons." She saw the show move from animated shorts on "The Tracy Ullman Show" to a pop culture phenomenon on Fox.
“Growing up as a child, I certainly watched 'The Simpsons.' I loved Bart Simpson. I think we all did,” said Parsons. “I even had the little toys that McDonald’s was putting out.”
Parsons is one of 10 women featured in the long Twitter thread. Of the 10, nine are incumbent MHAs and their animated doppelgangers. The remaining one is Newfoundland and Labrador Lt.-Gov. Judy Foote.
She was paired with Springfield Elementary second-grade teacher Mrs. Hoover.
“I like that (Dubourdieu) was non-partisan,” said Parsons, who appreciated the comedic break it offered. “I got a good chuckle out of it.”
The response to the sizeable thread has been favourable online.
It was something that surprised DuBourdieu at first.
Since it went online, there have been dozens of interactions between politicians and the public. People have marvelled at how perfect some of the comparisons are, such as independent MHA Eddie Joyce being matched with oil tycoon Rich Texan.
“It is something people are familiar with,” DuBourdieu said about why he chose to use "The Simpsons" as a reference point.
Liberal candidate George Murphy tweeted that he thought of himself as the lovable barfly Barney Gumble instead of Police Chief Wiggum, the character he is attached to.
Other candidates, such as Progressive Conservative candidate Kristina Ennis and the NDP’s Jenn Deon, have expressed interest in being connected to their Simpsons doubles.
Lake Melville NDP candidate Amy Hogan even went ahead and did her own. It was Jerri Mackleberry, the mother of notable twins Sherri and Terri.
“I think I’m probably the twins, Sherri and Terri’s mom, Jerri. It’s is the purple hair and the glasses,” Hogan tweeted.
DuBourdieu pledged to do a third part of the thread if there is enough interest.
In the days since it was posted, a link to the thread made its way around the Progressive Conservative email chain.
“We got a good kick out of it,” said Conservative MHA Barry Petten. "You can’t help but laugh.”
The Conception Bay South representative readily admitted he wasn’t much of a Simpsons watcher and had little background on Superintendent Chalmers or why he was paired with him.
Still, Petten said he appreciated the work and the humour it brought to the election.
“It’s all good humour,” he said.
Looking back on the process and the result of his humourous entry into the Newfoundland and Labrador political scene, DuBourdieu has no regrets about piecing everything together.
Some comparisons were easy, while others required a bit more thought, he said, and he learned a little along the way, namely, how male-dominated this province’s legislature is.
As the province rolls toward the election on Feb. 13, DuBourdieu will watch from his home in Alberta.
In the meantime, he is glad he got to contribute to the run-up in some way.
“I’m glad I did it and I hope people get a good chuckle out of it,” said DuBourdieu.
Nicholas Mercer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Central Voice