The wonderful time I’ve had with ‘The Simpsons’ and how they need to go
By Angela Espinoza, Arts Editor
Season 24 of The Simpsons premieres on Sunday, September 30, the significance of which being that it may very well be the second to last season for the very long-running series. The show’s been around longer than I have, so I take on this task knowing just how much has been said about it over the past two-and-a-half decades.
In that amount of time, The Simpsons trail blazed the animated sitcom, taking of course The Flintstones and kicking it up a notch for the adults. It was only a couple years ago that I realized just how much sex occurred on the show, but I digress. This has been said about a thousand times, but The Simpsons essentially helped make the “cartoon” cool for the 20-something crowd, before any of MTV’s surreal serials and without making it into an exploitive feature à la Fritz the Cat (1972).
So what can I add that maybe hasn’t already been said so many bloody times about this show? Well, I guess I can talk about myself in the context of the whole thing. I went to a Catholic elementary school, which was not nearly as awful as one might imagine, but it was no cakewalk either. That said, almost everyone in my grade had their parents forbid them from watching The Simpsons. I lost count of how many times I went in, asked what they thought of the newest episode, and was looked down upon by peers and their parents for having seen it—and I couldn’t figure out why.
Yes, Homer choked his son (written as I smirk) on so many occasions that it became a running gag. Yes, Homer and Marge once ran around the state just to try and have some sex, resulting in, amongst other things, Homer’s bare ass squeaking along the roof of a glass cathedral. And yes, although non-canon, I watched a gremlin hold up Ned Flanders’ severed head as he groaned “Hidely-hoo, Bart!” menacingly while Bart was driven off to a mental institution.
But Homer also fell down Springfield Gorge for an extended length of time in a successful attempt to prove he loved his son. As a Catholic (not stressing anything on anybody), I watched Bart cry and beg God to return his paper soul, only to have his little sister drop it in front of him. And during a time when it was still a very touchy subject, my introduction to homosexuality via none other than John Waters was a positive one, something I can absolutely say one would not find tolerance from students, parents, or teachers at a Catholic school in the ‘90s.
In writing that tolerance was a subject, I realize I can’t recall there being a single episode focused on the topic of racism the way The Simpsons focused on LGBT rights. Of course one-off comments exist, but no one ever questions that one of Homer’s best friend’s (and possibly Lenny Leonard’s soul mate) is Carl Carlton, a black character. Heck, Mr. Burns’ groveling sidekick Smithers was originally black, Lisa’s first idol in Bleeding Gums Murphy is black, and their family doctor Dr. Hibbert is black! So what’s my point? Not once was it stated in the show there was something unconventional about any of these things—something still, to this day not exercised in all sitcoms strictly for comedic effect.
I learned more about “love thy neighbour” and having faith in whatever you believe in—Catholicism, Buddhism, Atheism, or otherwise—than I ever did in Catholic school. I hate placing the two—The Simpsons and school—hand in hand, but it was strange for me to see two such important (if you couldn’t tell at this point, the amount of television I watch constitutes it as important) things in my life have a strong, one-sided contrast growing up.
Of course, it was just as difficult watching the show I’d defend my little eight-year-old heart with decline such a great deal in quality—another subject that’s been said too many times. With that, I shall say I love The Simpsons, I will forever love The Simpsons, I will continue quoting it for the rest of my life, and I’m also crossing my fingers that season 25 really will be the last season. It’s a sad comparison to make, but sometimes you just need to pull the plug; The Simpsons, as much as I love it, has been on life support for far too long. Here’s hoping these are the last two seasons, and that to some extent they’ll be worth watching.
And if not, Futurama is still on and still awesome!