In the year 1989, something happened that would change my life forever. No, it wasn’t the birth of my twin sisters. It was the series premier of The Simpsons. The Simpsons has shaped my humor and personality to what it is today. I remember looking forward to Sunday nights to watch The Simpsons (especially to see the Halloween episode). When the series first came out, people were outraged at how… well outrageous The Simpsons was. As you look back at The Simpsons first seasons today, you have to wonder why people thought so ill of the series. I think the worst thing to come out of Bart’s mouth was, “Eat my shorts.” That was considered bad back then? On South Park, Cartman killed a boy’s family and fed them to him and that was in an episode from like 8 years ago. I didn’t see anyone raise an eyebrow at that.
My mom was one of the many parents that didn’t like their children watching The Simpsons. However, thanks to my dad, I ended up watching it anyways. Really, I think the only reason that my mom didn’t want me watching the show was because OTHER moms said it was bad (which is why she didn’t let me see Jurassic Park in theaters….) It wasn’t until later though that my mom could not hide the fact that she at least appreciated some of what The Simpsons had to offer. I still to this day remember her nearly pissing herself laughing at the episode where Homer tries to jump Springfield Gorge in place of Bart, and falls down into it, only to be helicoptered back up into a gurney, which then rolls and plummets back into the gorge (it still gets me). I don’t think I have ever seen her laugh that hard. Same goes for my dad. I can vividly remember my dad laughing his ass off at the episode where the Simpsons go into the witness protection program, and the FBI guys are trying to have homer react to his new name “Mr. Thompson”.
That is just what makes The Simpsons so important to my generation. It is intertwined with our childhood. Who doesn’t remember going to school on Monday and talking about the latest episode The Simpsons on the playground? Who doesn’t remember quoting their favorite lines over and over and over again (I had a spot on Ralph Wiggum up through high school thanks to my late pubescence). The Simpsons eventually had enough episode to where it could be played on repeat throughout the week. I remember I would watch The Simpsons three times a day, Monday through Friday. This only bolstered my Simpsons knowledge.
Nothing is meant to last though, and The Simpsons are not immune to that. After about season 12, the jokes and story telling took a nose dive. Every good idea had been used up by then. You can only do so many things with the same characters before a show goes stale. The writers at The Simpsons knew this as they started to incorporate some of Springfield’s lesser known characters like…. ugh… Cookie Kwan, who was a bit character in the episode where Marge became a real estate saleswoman. You can really feel the desperation from the writers when characters like that take center stage.
I fucking love The Simpsons though. I am currently rewatching all the episodes up until season 12, which is something I probably do on a semi-annual basis. It got me thinking though. The Simpsons just recently had their 500th episode. I wonder, how bad could The Simpsons really be today? I have to find out. So, I have decided to put myself through the pain of watching what is considered The Simpsons today and document my journey, here, for you. Here are my reactions:
– First thing I have to say is I am not a big fan of the new hd beginning, but I am not as insulted by it as I once was. I thought the start up gag was actually pretty good. It had Milhouse writing “Bart’s earned a day off”. Also the couch gag was every single simpsons couch gag ever which I thought was a decent tribute as well.
– Ok first joke, right out of the box is an example of how The Simpsons are shitty. Homer shrieks at the news that China and the USA are at war. Cut to Kent Brockman who then says that it’s not real, but what the disaster preparedness drill is for. When they cut back to Homer, he has a pillow cushion over his head. Now, I know this isn’t meant to get huge laughs. It’s just silly humor. That is what The Simpsons have degraded to though. Just over the top silliness. Not that the good seasons weren’t silly too, but they knew where to draw the line. It feels like modern Simpsons jokes try so hard to squeak out a laugh and always go on too long. The punchy, quick paced jokes of the golden Simpsons seasons are gone.
– In this episode, the whole town conspires to get rid of the Simpsons. Kinda lame but it’s passable.
– Oh look, Cookie Kwan. Her joke was stupid, and could have been said by anyone. Actually it would have been better if it was cut entirely.
– Ok, a picture of Homer driving drunk through a school is kinda funny
– More desperate jokes that have no oomph
– Guest star Julian Assange? Buh?
– Ok one good joke. Homer breaks into his house (don’t ask) and he says, “Remember when we first moved in and “I talked like this”” He was doing the voice that he used to have on the Tracy Ulman show. Like throwback jokes. Lyk dat
– The last joke of the show was ok. Everyone in Springfield ends up following the Simpsons to their new squatter town (The Outlands), but they leave Principle Skinner behind. He looked sad and it was funny. Oh, but then they go and drag it out after a few of the credits run, kinda ruining it.
– Before the credits a card is shown that states, “Thanks for 500 Shows. All we ask is that you go out and get some fresh air before logging on the internet and saying how much this sucked.” CAN DO!
The episode managed to make me laugh through my nose about three times. Not a snort, but I kinda blew a bit of air through my nose. You know the laugh. It’s barely a chuckle. I also noticed that the show is at least a minute shorter than old season episodes. Probably a good thing. This episode was as crappy as I thought it would be. I really tried to like it. I wanted to be surprised. In the end though, this episode ended up being as disappointing as my job prospects.
I really do think that the originators of The Simpsons that are still involved with the show must know that it just isn’t what it used to be. Sure, they may play it off as they don’t care that people say the show sucks, but they do kinda care. I am actually pretty sure that I heard Al Jean on the commentaries for one of the older episodes eluding that the newer seasons are not as good. The creators know that they are just making the show for the money. I don’t see how The Simpsons still seems to make money. Maybe the younger generation actually likes this crap.
See, the argument that perhaps I have grown out of The Simpsons, doesn’t apply. The Simpsons was not a show you grew out of but actually into. One of the best features of growing up with The Simpsons was going back and re-watching old episodes, only to find jokes that you did not understand as a kid, now make sense. The Simpsons humor, although sometimes crude, was actually pretty intelligent and witty. It was not the fans that outgrew the show, but the show outgrew the fans. The humor in the 500th episode could be at times classified as “cute”. I could actually see people like grandparents enjoying this schlock. It’s almost wholesome. Let’s face it, it is hard to make quick witted jokes with same characters that have been on television for 23 years. That is why most Simpson comedy has devolved to what it is today.
The Simpsos will always have a place in my heart. If I ever have kids, I plan to share the original seasons with them. Hopefully making long lasting memories for them as I had with my parents. In its current form, The Simpsons may now just be a money grab, but I will always remember it for what it used to be.