While The Simpsons' anti-authoritative tone caused quite a fussy ruckus whenever it debuted back in 1989, the long-running hit doesn't have nearly the same impact on general audiences. (Although the show can still show its fangs every now and again.) The most recent episode, though, found itself banned from Russia over one particular scene that took place in a church and wasn't the most religiously sensitive moment on TV this week.
"Looking for Mr. Goodbart," which aired Sunday night, featured a subplot where Homer gets addicted to playing the mobile game Peekimon Get, which is a slightly more than obvious parody of Pokemon Go, which caused a sensation last year following its release. At one point, Homer enters church while Reverend Lovejoy is giving a sermon, and even without the joke made at Jesus' expense, the scene is apparently too great a reminder of the September 2016 incident involving Ruslan Sokolovsky, the vlogger facing upwards of 42 months in jail after he was found to be playing Pokemon Go within a cathedral in Yekaterinburg. He was arrested for having offended religious sentiments and for inciting hatred.
The episode received complaints from Russian clerics, who contacted the cartoon-airing network 2x2, and perhaps the most notable was archpriest Andrei Novikov, who called the episode "Hollywood propaganda," and asked for "more control over media products," according to THR. 2x2 made the decision to ban the episode, stating the possibility that the network could be compromised along with the controversy caused.
At a time when the U.S. is already at uncomfortable odds with the generally strict Russia, thanks to all things political, it's perhaps strange that The Simpsons would enter the fray as an offending party. Strange, mostly because the scene didn't appear to be directly striking out at Russia specifically, which wouldn't be outside of the show's comfort zone. So long as this all doesn't end in everyone submitting to the power of gun-toting robots, I'm all good.
In case you were wondering what the actual dialogue was in the scene that resulted in the offended responders, the following John Lennon-esque dialogue took place.
Comic Book Guy: Look, this game is, or at least was, bigger than Jesus.
Reverend Lovejoy: Hmm. It's a pretty low bar these days.
Hardly the biggest shot The Simpsons has taken at religion over the years, but as we all know, shit doesn't get real until Pokemon Go enters the picture. Here in the U.S., at least, The Simpsons airs Sunday nights on Fox at 8:00 p.m. ET. To see when everything else is hitting the small screen in the near future, head to our summer TV guide.