Why The Simpsons Are Still Relevant
By Karen Schmidt (@Fan__I__Am)
By a show of hands, who here still watches the Simpsons each week?
The Simpsons have been America’s favorite family since 1989 – could it be that the curse of the Monkey Paw really came true and everyone is sick of them? I still watch, every week and I’ve heard every reason why others have stopped. To each their own opinion, but you my friends are missing out on “Pure Gold” (to quote Troy McClure, you might remember him from such films as …)
28 seasons in and the creators and show runners are keeping the episodes fresh and current, and hilarious. The penultimate episode from last season featured a live call-in segment where Homer answered viewer’s questions. LIVE! Pretty cutting edge for an animated show.
There is no denying that The Simpson’s Treehouse of Horror volumes are a Halloween staple. Season 27 saw something a little different, but was incredibly smart. Episode 4 titled “Halloween of Horror” is a full episode with a Halloween theme. The Simpsons turned their house into Everscream Terrors but when Lisa suffers from an incredible scare, Everscream Terrors is at risk.
Halloween night, Marge takes Bart and Maggie out trick-or-treating while Homer stays home with Lisa, trying to keep her happy and calm. Of course, things are never that easy and the pair are being harassed by three former pop-up store employees that Homer got fired. As Homer goes around the house locking doors and windows, and Lisa sits doing a puzzle, he tries to whistle a happy tune to keep Lisa calm. He whistles the theme from the movie Halloween, and later we see Lisa also singing it as she happily works on her puzzle.
Not to be outdone, the following week’s Treehouse of Horror, Sideshow Bob finally fulfills his evil wish list and kills Bart.
In early 2012 a freemium mobile game titled The Simpsons: Tapped Out was released. In the game, Homer accidentally blew up Springfield and it is the Sky-Finger (the player) who must rebuild the town. With each quest completed, more buildings, decorations and characters are unlocked. Plus, there are many episode tie-ins, especially during holiday seasons like Christmas, Halloween and Whacking Day.
Every year, the couch gags step up their game. Still so inventive and relevant with the times. A Frozen-inspired gag; Adventure Time; and even a Rick and Morty gag in season 26 with creators Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland as guest animators. Other guest animators include Bill Plympton, Don Hurtzfeldt and Guillermo del Toro.
One of my favorite couch gags just happens to go along with one of the best episodes in recent years. Homer and Ned Flanders team up in Miami Vice style in a gag titled “La-Z Rider” with guest animator Steve Cutts. The episode features the incredibly funny Sofia Vergara as Bart’s substitute teacher and he and Principal Skinner are fighting for her affections. Meanwhile, Homer has brought home a new type of “milk” (yes, notice the quotations around the word milk) and this hormone-induced beverage causes the Simpson children to experience early puberty. Bart’s dirty little mustache is hilarious and disturbing.
The most recent episode was the first hour-long episode for the series and they pulled out all the stops. Titled “The Great Phatsby”, Homer plays a sort of Nick Carraway character to Mr. Burn’s Jay Gatsby character. We meet another billionaire, Jay G who idolized Mr. Burn’s and learned everything he knew from Burn’s book “The Rungs of Ruthlessness”.
Playing off of another Fox show, Empire, The Great Phatsby gave us “Goosius” Jay G’s Goose sidekick, and his ex-wife Praline (played by Taraji P. Henson). Also featuring Charles Barkley, Common, Keegan-Michael Key, RZA and Snoop Dogg.
Homer trying to help Smither’s find a man; Burns gives all plant employees augmented reality glasses; Marge goes to prison for allowing Bart to go to the park unsupervised; Comic Book Guy gets married; Fracking; Seth MacFarlane and Marge get too close; a Lego episode and a Futurama / Simpsons crossover.
You see what you’ve been missing?