The Simpsons at 25 – Your Favorite Cartoon Series [POLL]
There are shows that never grow old. Somehow they always manage to avoid the tides of change and always remain fresh.
It’s one thing for a show like SNL to remain relevant all these years. Characters come and go, some onto more lucrative careers.
But how about an animated feature that showcases one of America’s best loved families.
In other words, one that never seems to grow old.
Hence The Simpsons.
“Animation Domination” is the phrase Fox TV has used to bill its Sunday night lineup built around the family that never grows old.
For a guy whose been one of TV’s most recognizable dads for almost 25 years, 38-year-old Homer Simpson doesn’t appear to have aged even a day.
“One of the secrets to his success is that Homer loves everything,” says “The Simpsons” executive producer Al Jean about the childish dad. “He’ll sit and watch a crummy movie on TV and he falls into it wholeheartedly, as if he’s never seen anything better.”
Jean adds, “He’s also a lot smarter than anyone gives him credit for.”
“Cartoons don’t have any deep meaning,” Homer said in an episode once, as he rose from his living room couch — with the top of his pants riding low to reveal his large, yellow plumber’s butt. “Cartoons are just stupid drawings that give you a cheap laugh.”
He’s only half right.
“The Simpsons” first arrived as rough, animated bumpers — short toons — that aired between the commercials on the “Tracey Ullman” show, in 1987. They landed their own sitcom in 1989. It was supposed to be a satirical look at an American working-class family and was dreamed up by artist Matt Groening minutes before a pitch meeting with TV network officials.
But in the years since, the show has gone on to become among the most vivid commentaries on American culture, society, politics and history.
It doesn’t hurt that millions of viewers have fallen in love with the family — goofy Homer, nurturing mom Marge, brainy Lisa, underachieving troublemaker Bart and baby Maggie.
As he developed the concept, Groening drew on his own life for inspiration.
Springfield, the community where the Simpsons live, was based on Groening’s home, Portland, Ore., and the characters were named after his family members — except for Bart, which is an anagram for the word brat.
Sunday’s episode, “Homerland” — a riff on Showtime’s “Homeland” — will mark the beginning of the show’s 25th season. Homer, who works in a nuclear power plant, is accused of sabotaging the reactor, but is eventually cleared.
It’s a perfect example of how the show takes pop culture fads, such as another hit show, and makes fun of them.
“The idea of a sitcom lasting 25 years is totally insane,” says (Executive Producer Al) Jean, who has has a production credit on more than 500 episodes of the series.
“I mean most shows — if they even make it onto the air — have a shelf life of about five minutes,” he says.
For “The Simpsons” those five minutes have lasted decades, and the show has gone from an afterthought on a variety show to being TV’s first family.
It’s true. At some point, the cast of “Modern Family” which has just won its 4th Emmy will grow old and the jokes will grow tired.
The Simpsons, on the other hand, still remain as “young” and “fresh” as the first time you may have seen them as shorts on the Tracy Ullman show.
And relevant. And unlike Homer’s riff on cartoons, that’s saying a lot!