In my sixth anniversary post, I lamented the lack of Simpsons content on Superior Realities. I think it’d be too big a change of direction if I started talking about The Simpsons all the time, but I have decided it’s high time I do at least one post on the matter.
It may not often come up on this blog, but I am a massive Simpsons fan. I’m every bit as obsessed with it as I am with Warcraft or Metric. It’s a pillar of my life and always has been. I grew up watching The Simpsons — I literally can’t remember life without it — and I’ve continued to be a fan to this day.
Yes, this does mean I’m one of those people who still thinks The Simpsons is funny after all this time. I’ll definitely grant that it’s a lot more hit and miss than it once was, but there are still good episodes, and even the more mediocre ones still usually have at least one or two excellent lines (“This simulation has been brought to you by Your Brain, a subsidiary of Your Penis”).
Honestly if you ask me the real nadir of the series was probably around seasons eight and nine. That one where it turns out Principal Skinner is an impostor? Ugh, just dreadful.
And I think some of the best episodes have come from relatively recent seasons. I’d say “Mona Leaves-a” from season nineteen is probably the most emotional episode of the series, intensely bittersweet while still managing to bring some humour to the tragedy.
Then there’s season twenty-three’s “The Book Job,” which is easily one of my all-time favourites. I’m totally biased, of course, but I think that episode is absolutely brilliant, and I’d consider it required viewing for anyone who has written or even thought about writing a novel.
Plus you get to hear Neil Gaiman doing a terrible American accent. What’s not to love?
Normally Simpsons holiday episodes are pretty bad, but “Holidays of Future Passed,” also from season twenty-three, was a rare exception, being both funny and heartfelt. In general I’m fascinated by the whole alternate continuity that has been developed through the various flash forward episodes.
Interestingly, the one other holiday episode that I enjoy is also from a modern season: season twenty-six’s “I Won’t Be Home for Christmas.” I like it because it has a very simple premise — even if it goes to some pretty weird places along the way — and it puts Homer in an unusually positive light. For once, he’s the wronged party; he did everything right.
I can think of lots of other examples, but the point is, I’m still having fun with the show.
Of course, I also have lots of love for the “classic” days, as well. Never going to stop loving the Stonecutters, hired goons, Evil Homer, sixty-four slices of American cheese, or the cursed frogurt.
There are some fascinating things about a show that’s been around as long as The Simpsons. I’m always amused by its take on continuity.
You might say The Simpsons has no continuity, and you’d be mostly right, but not entirely. Things rarely change in Springfield, but sometimes they do, and you can never predict which changes will stick. I fully expected Comic Book Guy’s wife to be a one-off character, but she’s still showing up from time to time, as is Selma’s daughter.
The Simpsons kids never age, but oddly, some of the show’s other children do. Both Ling Bouvier and the Nahasapeemapetilon octuplets have visibly aged since they first appeared, though not enough to reflect the actual real world time that has passed.
Bizarrely, though, Jamshed Nahasapeemapetilon has aged in real time and is now an adult.
Under other circumstances, this level of inconsistency might be frustrating, but at this point it’s just part of The Simpsons’ charm. Springfield exists in a surreal nether realm where the logic of our world simply doesn’t apply.
The Simpsons’ long run can also make it a fascinating sort of cultural barometer. Earlier on, computers and the Internet were treated as some novelty the characters rarely interacted with. Now Lisa’s doing research on Google all the time and the rest of the family all have smartphones and tablets.
Homer used to be intensely homophobic, but now he’s evolved beyond all that, and the number of openly gay Springfieldians has increased significantly. Even if no one’s gay for Moleman.
The Simpsons is, if nothing else, unique. Even if it did stop being funny, I’d probably still watch. It’s just a part of who I am at this point. I’ve probably spent at least as much time with them as I have with my real family…