The Simpsons

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The Simpsons is a satirical animated comedy series created by Life in Hell cartoonist Matt Groening. The Simpsons started as part of The Tracey Ullman Show in 1987. On December 17, 1989 the show debuted on the Fox Network. The show was also made into a feature-length movie, which was released on July 27, 2007.

The Simpsons is the longest-running sitcom in the United States, as well as the longest-running animated television series, and is viewed all over the world. It has won 27 Emmy Awards. On October 16, 2016 the 600th episode, the Halloween episode "Treehouse of Horror XXVII", was broadcast.[1] With its 636th episode to be broadcast during its 29th season sometime in 2018, The Simpsons will surpass Gunsmoke (which produced 635 episodes between 1955 and 1975) for the most episodes of a scripted primetime American TV series.[2]

In Iran, China and Venezuela, The Simpsons is banned by the regimes in those countries.[3][4]

Family

The show revolves around the fictional Simpson family.

Homer Jay Simpson

The overweight, balding father of the family. Homer "works" as a safety inspector in the local nuclear power plant - where he usually sleeps, which gets him into trouble with his boss, Mr. Burns. However, many episodes have shown him performing a wide range of other jobs. Homer enjoys a diet mostly centered around donuts and "Duff" beer. Homer is by choice quite lazy but does get pushed into occasionally performing heroic acts for his family.

Marjorie "Marge" Bouvier Simpson

Marge is the mother of the family. Instantly recognizable thanks to her unfeasibly large blue beehive hairdo, Marge provides the foundation for the family. Her relationship with Homer is portrayed as a loving one but frequently exasperating due mostly to Homer's buffoonery. Marge is in many respects the prototypical suburban American mother, as she stays at home and takes care of the family while Homer works. On a few occasions Marge has gotten a job which has sometimes met with horrible results but sometimes with more pleasant ones.

Bartholomew "Bart" Simpson

Their son Bart, the eldest child, is a troublemaker and self-proclaimed underachiever. Bart has a mixed relationship with his father. While sometimes harboring a very close relationship with his father, Bart's opinion of Homer is all over the radar, ranging from very affectionate love to deep frustration.

Lisa Simpson

The older daughter. Lisa is mostly concerned with being a good student, protecting the environment (although she is involved in activism with other liberal causes at different points in the show's history such as recycling), and playing the saxophone. Her high intelligence relative to the rest of her family often makes her feel isolated.

Margaret "Maggie" Simpson

A baby who hardly ever talks, instead sucking her pacifier twice. On a couple of occasions she has proven to have exceptionally high intelligence (for example, when her pacifier was taken away during a trip to a foster home, she staged an elaborate plot to get it back).

Episodes

Currently, there are 596 episodes in 27 seasons.

Conservative Episodes

  • The Crepes of Wrath: Lisa discusses with Adil, an Albanian Communist spy. Adil wants to know: "How can you defend a country where five percent of the people control 95 percent of the wealth?", whereupon Lisa answers: "I'm defending a country where people can think, and act, and worship any way they want!"
  • Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington: Lisa becomes a Patriot.
  • Bart Gets an "F": Bart prays to God to pass a school test.
  • Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment: Lisa is concerned about her father, who breaks the Eighth Commandment: Thou shalt not steal.
  • Homer the Heretic: Homer quits going to church and is chastized for it by God in a dream.
  • Duffless: Homer fights Alcoholism.
  • Bart Sells His Soul: Bart recognizes the existence of the soul.
  • Homer Loves Flanders: Ned Flanders and his Bible group help Stan Taylor overcome his sexual addiction.
  • Bart's Comet: Contains a humorous condemnation towards liberal attempts to withdraw funds from defense and place them into healthcare at the beginning of the episode, as two fighter craft, shortly after Groundskeeper Willie's failed attempt at shooting down a defaced weather balloon down the sky, attempts to find out who was firing at them, and misidentifies him as an Iraqi fighter jet and has Sidewinder missiles shoot themselves down, with one of the pilots then pinning the blame on their shooting themselves down on faulty equipment due to funding for the military being cut in favor of healthcare, and the other pilot begging for him to give it a chance only for their parachutes to fail, and then proceeding to fight in the desert.
  • The Trouble With Trillions: Ned Flanders makes an Conservative quote about the Nanny state. His son asks: "Daddy, what do taxes pay for?", whereupon his father answers: "Why, everything! Policemen, trees, sunshine- and let's not forget the folks who just don't feel like working, God bless 'em.". Also depicts Fidel Castro and Communist Cuba in a negative light, as he was shown taking the trillion dollar bill from Mr. Burns in a very underhanded manner via distraction and deceit.
  • Simpsons Bible Stories: The Simpsons dream Bible Stories (although it partially mocks the Bible Characters).
  • Alone Again, Natura-diddily: Ned Flanders keeps his faith in God, even after his wife Maude died.
  • Weekend at Burnsie's: Marge is worried about Homer´s drug use.
  • Treehouse of Horror XIII: Springfield becomes a Gun-free zone thanks to Lisa's anti-gun activism. As a result of it, Springfield gets terrorized by Wild West outlaws and Kaiser Wilhelm II, who have all risen from the dead. Homer gets back into the past to prevent Gun control and defeat the villains in the present.
  • Pray Anything: Homer starts to pray, but later he sues the church. He gets punished by a weather disaster.
  • 'Tis the Fifteenth Season: Homer wants to become a good Christian.
  • Marge vs. Singles, Seniors, Childless Couples and Teens, and Gays: Marge fights an Anti-family campaign.
  • The Simpsons Movie: Environmentalist EPA wants to destroy Springfield.
  • That '90s Show: Marge is romanticized by her radical feminist/elitist Anti-American university professor, which leads Homer (who's paying for her tuition) into a deep depression and leads him to become a grunge rock star (parody of Kurt Cobain). Marge later learns the error of her ways and abandons her professor and returns to Homer, who Marge thinks has become a drug addict, only to learn he actually became a diabetic, which she helps him to recover from. There's also a condemnation against Bill Clinton, as Homer and Marge (while the former is recovering at the hospital) end up speaking badly about Bill Clinton.
  • I Married Marge: Was pro-family values, as after accidentally getting Marge pregnant, Homer proceeded to make every effort to provide for his family, including marrying Marge and proposing to her on his own volition, and when Marge was about to go into labor, he immediately attempts to head over to the hospital to watch her deliver the baby.
  • Lisa's First Word: Like above, it was pro-family values, as after Lisa was conceived, Homer, like before, made several efforts to better his family and provide for his then-upcoming daughter, even moving to a bigger house with his father's help.

Liberal Episodes

  • Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish: Supports Environmentalism and criticizes nuclear power.
  • Sideshow Bob Roberts: Takes jabs at the Republican Party as attempted murderer Sideshow Bob becomes a Republican mayor (although that being said, there was also some jabs at the Democrat Party in the form of Mayor Quimby, himself a parody of John F. Kennedy), there's also right-wing talk show host named Birch Barlow (parody of Rush Limbaugh) who defends him whether it's right or wrong. Later in the episode, in a similar manner to the Watergate Scandal, it was revealed that Bob committed voter fraud. The episode had been written as a result of the Republican Revolution of 1994.
  • Homer's Phobia: Homer criticizes the practice of homosexuality, but in the end he changes his mind.
  • The Old Man and the Lisa: Promotes Environmentalism.
  • Mother Simpson: Treats the hippie movement and the decadence of the late-1960s in a positive and sympathetic manner relating to the titular character, Mona Simpson.
  • D'oh-in' in the Wind: Again, promotes the hippie movement in a positive manner.
  • Smart and Smarter: When Maggie gets a high score on an IQ test, Philippa says "That's amazing for a Christian!"; implying that most Christians are dumb.
  • There's Something About Marrying: Marge supports same-sex "marriage".
  • G.I. (Annoyed Grunt): Mocks and villainizes the United States Army.
  • The Monkey Suit: Promotes Evolutionism and mocks Creationism.
  • You Kent Always Say What You Want: Kent Brockman says a blasphemous word (the episode never says what word it is), mocks the Parents Television Council and then has Brockman and Lisa expose the "Fox News conspiracy"
  • Mypods and Boomsticks: Promotes Islam.
  • Loan-a Lisa: Bart makes an atheist statement: "We've already heard stories from thousands of years ago about stuff that didn't happen."
  • Opposites A-Frack: Against Fracking.
  • A few episodes feature a group of "evil Republicans".

Other Political Episodes

  • Two Bad Neighbors: Homer becomes an enemy of his new neighbor George H.W. Bush (RINO). In the end Gerald Ford (Conservative) is the new neighbor of the Simpsons, who becomes a friend of Homer.
  • Bart Gets an Elephant: There are two political conventions that are used as site gags when the titular elephant, Stampy, proceeds to go on a rampage. On the one hand, the Repubican Party is demonized with the slogans "We Want what's worst for people" and "We're Just Plain Evil". But on the other, the Democrat Party Convention didn't fare well, either, with its slogans highlighting their incompetence and contempt for life with the slogans "We hate life and ourselves" and "We Can't Govern".
  • Treehouse of Horror II: Lisa's nightmare, an adaptation of the Monkey's Paw, has a subtle condemnation towards anti-Second Amendment beliefs, as after Lisa wishes for World Peace, everyone destroys all of their weapons and guns, and proceed to sing "Kumbaya", only for Kang and Kodos (two drooling, tentacled, one-eyed aliens who laugh exceedingly) to proceed to invade the planet easily because of it. Bart's nightmare, based on The Twilight Zone's "It's a Good Life", however, has a slight anti-family message, due to the nightmare being Bart releasing Homer from his psychic-induced curse by bonding with him.
  • Much Apu About Nothing: Homer is initially against immigration of Illegal aliens before deciding to support it, with any criticism against illegal immigration being depicted in a negative light. On the other hand, it also depicts the naturalization process to become a legal immigrant to the United States, as Apu decides to undergo the naturalization program to become a US Citizen, and showcases it in a positive light. It also depicts encroaching government in a negative light due to the whole illegal immigration criticisms in the episode being due to Mayor Quimby blaming the tax increases on illegal immigrants when in reality it was the result of his own policies, with Lisa asking why they do that.
  • The Cartridge Family: Homer becomes a gun owner. It is controversial, whether this episode is pro-Gun Control or anti-gun control. The writer of this episode is John Swartzwelder, who is a Second Amendment supporter.
  • Coming to Homerica: Another Pro-Illegal immigration-episode.
  • Bart-Mangled Banner: The Simpsons get arrested for criticizing government. They leave America, but go back, because of homesickness.
  • Little Big Girl: Bart willingly tries to marry Darcy to provide the child with a father figure after discovering she had been impregnated by a Norwegian exchange student.

Themes

The character Mr. Burns

While The Simpsons has many liberal themes, the basis and morals of the show often portray family centered values in a warped sort of way and many episodes have a strong church focus. The show also has many episodes which focus on politics. The writers of the show come from both liberal and conservative backgrounds, and this is reflected through the portrayal of American politics on the show. The Springfield Republican Party is headed by the villainous Mr. Burns and meets in an old castle. Twice they have put forward candidates for elections: Burns himself ran for governor of the anonymous state Springfield is in, though he eventually lost; while in a later episode Sideshow Bob, though twice convicted for attempted murder, becomes Mayor of Springfield. He is removed from office when it is discovered that he personally and secretly committed large scale voting fraud. Meanwhile, the Springfield Democrat Party is led by Mayor "Diamond" Joe Quimby, who is portrayed as a promiscuous, pot-smoking, unfaithful and corrupt politician, once admitting openly that he murdered his opponents. Quimby and his family are clearly modeled on the Kennedy family, as Mayor Quimby's voice is identical to the one used when imitating John F. Kennedy on the show.

Public Education is satirized in the form of Springfield Elementary, which is portrayed as often taking extreme cost cutting measures at the expense of the children's education. When Bart gets Principal Skinner fired, Ned Flanders takes over as school principal and, as a result of his leniency towards trouble makers, the students run wild. In an attempt to get Skinner his job back, Bart takes Superintendent Chalmers to inspect the school. Despite the chaos he witnesses, Chalmers decides to let Ned remain Principal saying: "...the way America's public schools are sliding, they'll all be this way in a few months. I say, lay back and enjoy it! It's a hell of a toboggan ride". However, when he discovers that Flanders has brought prayer into the school, he fires him on the spot.

The show's portrayal of religion and Christianity in particular is often given in the form of Ned Flanders, the Simpsons' next door neighbor. A devout Christian, Ned is sometimes overbearing in his faith, but he is consistently shown to be compassionate and decent. In the series' first few seasons Ned was generally loathed by Homer for the perceived (and often real) superiority of Ned's quality of life. Later episodes have shown the two to be quite close at times, with more than a few featuring mutual adventures. Ned's reception among Christians has generally been positive due to his strong faith in God, even when faced with obstacles such as a failure of his business, The Leftorium, a hurricane destroying his house and most tragically, the death of his wife Maude.[5]

Well-known atheist Richard Dawkins had an appearance at The Simpsons as the Devil.[6]

Controversy

During the early years of the show Bart Simpson was criticized for being a poor role model for children. Though The Simpsons is considerably less atheistic than other Fox shows such as Family Guy, recently it has become quite controversial. Ironically, Marge Simpson, arguably the most wholesome character on the show, has been a highly controversial character, as she appeared on the cover and as a centerfold of Playboy, a pornographic magazine.

In the 2009 Halloween Special, "Treehouse of Horror XX," the writers of the show took a jab at the Eucharist. In one story in this episode, the people of Springfield were zombified and Bart's DNA was a cure. When the Simpsons escaped Springfield, other survivors wanted to eat him, but Marge screams:

“What kind of civilized people eat the body and blood of their savior?”

Catholic League President Bill Donahue criticized the writers for this line.[7]

Some Christian family groups such as the Parents Television Council criticized the episodes There's Something About Marrying of supporting same-sex "marriage".[8]

References

External links