Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Simpsons

Tonight is the 20th anniversary episode of The Simpsons, so I thought it would be appropriate to dedicate a blog entry to it. I have not watched any of the "new" episodes for several years now, but I may tune in tonight to reminisce a bit.

The Simpsons was THE show of my childhood. Every Sunday, my brother, Steven, my Dad and I would gather around the TV to watch it. It didn't matter that I didn't get a lot of the humour back then, I laughed at all the silly stuff Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie did, and marvelled at the fact that, no matter what happened, they were and would always be, a happy family. When my Dad would laugh at the jokes that went over our heads, I'd look at my Dad with a blank stare and he'd try to explain just what was so funny, but it was years until I really "got it". I've seen every episode up until about season 14. Seasons 1-8 are the best, but 9 and 10 are very good as well. After seasons 14, I stopped watching regularly because it had just become a shadow of its former glory, in my opinion.

That hasn't stopped me from watching the "classic" episodes. I have several of the earlier seasons on DVD, and they get near constant viewing from me. I get all of the "adult" jokes now (the day I started to get them as a teenager was the day I felt "grown up"), and take a lot of joy in rediscovering the sometimes very subtle humour of the show. Just over the winter break, I was watching "Mr. Plow" from the 4th season, which I hadn't seen in years. In this episode, Homer buys some very cheap late night advertising to promote his new snow plow business. The commercial was so obviously terrible, (look at the production values!) but that's why it's so funny. It's a send up on awful late night advertising and the people who think they can write and produce their own commercials without any prior experience in doing so. Of course the commercial brings Homer wild success...for the time being.

Another great advertising parody is for the Canyonero, in the season 9 episode, "The Last Temptation of Krust." Here's the audio of the commercial, though it really must be seen with the picture as well, if possible. There's another great song from the season 9 episode "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpsons". It's obviously a parody of Robert Downey Jr's substance abuse problems, but as a kid I didn't know that. Again, it wasn't until I revisited it about two years ago that I figured it out.

Since I've seen the early ones so many times, I have a full arsenal of lines that I pull out fairly often. Sometimes I'm given the same blank stares I used to give my Dad, but occasionally someone will catch what I'm doing and (hopefully) laugh. Just the other day I used "they have the internet on computers now" in a conversation. I was doing a bit of googling and found a list of lines that can be put into every day use produced by A.V. Club. In the interest of full disclosure, I'll admit to using every single one of them at least once in conversation, and some of them are used very regularly.

It may not be as good as it once was, but 20 years is a serious achievement. Congratulations to the creators of The Simpsons for creating a show that's still loved and talked about after all this time.


  1. Oh MAN! I quote the Simpsons on the regular as well, and tend to get the whole "blank stare".

  2. YES! Another person used to the blank stare! Do you still watch it regularly?

  3. Love the Simpsons, like South Park, hate the Family Guy. Is it just me?

  4. I didn't mind the first two seasons of Family Guy, but now it really grates on me, so I can only watch an episode or two here or there. As for South Park, I don't mind it, and it is often hilarious, but I rarely watch it as well.

  5. Love the Simpsons (posted at my blog too). As you did, I liked early The Family Guy (particularly the shows that centred on Brian and Stewie), but here is the thing about the show: it's like a guy who says something sexist but then says "HA HA HA, I didn't really mean it, it's just a joke!" There is something about the show, especially in its portrayal of Meg the "ugly daughter," that makes me very uncomfortable. Maybe I'm not post-feminist enough, but screw post-feminism anyway.

  6. The "Meg is ugly" joke was funny the first few times, but on the rare occasion I watch it now, it feels very old. We get it, Meg is the character everyone dumps on, but find a new joke to crack.

    I caught "The Cleveland Show" the other night for the first time, and I thought it was painfully bad.