The success of the Simpsons

It never fails to make a mockery of all that is sacred, even including a subtle ridicule of Christianity (think Reverend Lovejoy using the public’s donations for personal luxury, and his book entitled “Hell; It’s Not Just for Christians Anymore”) which sparked controversial views and received criticism for its inappropriateness. But one could not deny that this unsuspectingly clever humour is one of the main reasons for the millions in worldwide viewing figures. It is, in a word, ingenious.

Well, the celebrities agree; Danny DeVito, Susan Sarandon, Kirk Douglas are just three amongst a whole host of Hollywood names who have done guest voices for the show. There is even a mystery guest star in one episode- was it really Michael Jackson voicing the oversized, crazy man housed in the New Bedlam Rest Home for the Emotionally Interesting? There are several other reasons the show has remained so popular. Some involved change, and others include the fact that there has been none: Bart has been ten since forever and is still a vehicle promoting the “Cowabunga” tag line.

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But who is to say that is a bad thing- American magazine, Time, named him one of the most influential people of the 20th century, Of course, that did not sit well with the cultural critics, leading them to suggest that “The Simpsons” destroys the minds of the innocent. Why, could that be possible? These cartoon characters with funny hair, funny voices and yellow-for-white skin are corrupting humanity? As a reply in the words of Bart Simpson, “Eat my shorts! ”

There is undoubtedly more to “The Simpsons” than just humour- it has a depth and variety that most cartoons lack greatly. The show does not face the problem that many others experience, being that they stick to the same philosophy in each and every episode, making them mundane. The writers have managed to apply extraneous humour in storylines without making the Simpson family become completely blasphemous by focusing episodes round the vast supporting cast of cartoon characters, who have become well-known due to the show’s long run.

Viewers of the show will know the infuriatingly good-natured Flanders family, and Marge’s husky-voiced sisters, and Mo from the Bar, and Apu Nahasapeemapetilon (yes, that is the correct spelling) and his Kwik-E-Mart as well as you know the Simpson family themselves. By focusing many episodes around a supporting cast of characters, “The Simpsons” has the ability to invariably switch subjects in every episode due to the fluidity of the series. We have been taught so much about the sinister corporate mind from Montgomery Burns (“Send out the whinged monkeys,” he orders from his office window.

When they all jump out of the window and fall to their deaths, Burns turns and grumbles, “Continue the research. “). We have learnt about cheerful-diddy-ness from Ned Flanders, and how to be a bone fide nerd from Millhouse. In any case, what more could one ask for from an ‘impertinent’ cartoon? The stark impact that the Simpson family have had on our world is indeed quite phenomenal: they have their own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and Homer has been responsible for additions to the English language, such as “D’oh! ” which has been added to the dictionary.

Marge’s grunts are now instantly distinguishable and we are all familiar with the Simpson children as if they were our own brother and sisters, and ‘Bart’ actually now unofficially means ‘universal Bartness- ayekarumba! ‘ Evidently, the fact that the show is illustrated has not affected its popularity, but it merely adds to the flexibility, letting Groening capture new angles and does things that many other shows cannot. The Simpsons has lasted so long because it has done this and so cleverly interwoven numerous genres of TV, from comedy to satire, to drama.

It is animated, but not just another meaningless source of amusement for children. Even reruns are always interesting because there is always a joke that is missed first time round (Remember to read signs in the background- a sign on a rocket which was to be sent to blow up a comet in space read, “Caution! Aim Away from Face. ” Classic). No other TV show can capture the attention of an audience and educate them without even knowing it the way “The Simpsons” can; the show’s subtle way of making its points allows the viewer to enjoy it but also absorb information easily.

It has proved to the cynical that with its diversity and dry wit, it could educate the viewer without him or her being aware, and become a staple of a generation. The Simpsons have taught us to love the damaged, crass, grossly over-advertised world- being our own. Let’s just pray that Homer continues to eat doughnuts and may Bart keep serving detentions. The world is not quite ready for the demise of the Simpsons just yet. And maybe it never will be.