The Simpsons is a satirical animated comedy series created by Life in Hell cartoonist Matt Groening. The Simpsons started on the The Tracey Ullman Show in 1987. In December 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 23 Emmy Awards, and in the middle of 2013 it will finish its 24th season.
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.
The older daughter. Lisa is mostly concerned with being a good student, protecting the environment (although she is involved 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).
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 Democratic 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 amongst 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.
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.
- Simpsons' gay character is Patty - BBC