“D’oh!” exclaimed Homer Simpson, as he tripped over Marge to rest on the Sun City Peachtree bench. In her squeaky voice, Marge cried out, “Homer?!”
Ahhh, yes, The Simpsons. Just looking at them (the blue hair!) just makes you laugh! Homer, Marge, and the rest of the Simpson characters have made television audiences laugh for the past 32 years on their own animated show on FOX—the longest-running prime-time sitcom in the US. That’s following the cartoons debut as 60-second animated bumpers for The Tracey Ullman Show. After two years, the shorts were expanded into a full-length 30-minute television spin-off by 20th Century Fox.
The irony of it is that The Simpsons has lasted this long on FOX, considering how conservative and right-wing the network’s owners and news programs have been over the years. Watch one episode, and you’ll see what I mean. The Simpsons isn’t just a kids’ cartoon. This show has wickedly funny adult humor that is often political and blatantly knocks its own network. Good on Matt Groenig, the creator of the series, and all of the writers over the years who haven’t held back from speaking truth. One of those writers was Conan O’Brien, the comedian who just retired as talk show host of his late-night TV talk show.
The script writing of The Simpsons is the lure that hooks the most famous of celebrities to put voice to their animated selves or another character as guests on the show. Several even wrote their own parts or an entire episode. Ricky Gervais wrote the episode “Homer Simpson, This is Your Wife,” for example. Actor Dustin Hoffman was credited as “Sam Etic” for the episode “Lisa’s Substitute.”
Other guest stars include Marcia Wallace (176 times!), Kirk Douglas, Michael Jackson, Kelsey Grammer, Phil Hartman (52 episodes), James Earl Jones, Glen Close, Donald Sutherland, Anne Hathaway, Peton Manning, Eli Manning, Danika Patrick, and many, many more. As a matter of fact, the show was awarded the Guinness World Book of Records for “Most Guest Stars Featured in a TV Series.” That was back in 2010, but as of May 23, 2020, there have been 905 guest stars on the show.
For those of you who have never watched The Simpsons, here’s the scoop: The show is a satire of a dysfunctional but loving working-class family who live in the fictional town of Springfield. Homer and Marge have three children: Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. The series lampoons many aspects of American culture, society, politics, and history.
To put it bluntly, Homer is a buffoon. He works as a safety director at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, except he is anything but safe! Careless would describe him more accurately. His wife, Marge, is a stereotypical American housewife. Bart is a ten-year-old troublemaker, Lisa is precocious eight-year-old activist who plays a mean saxophone, and Maggie is a pacifier-sucking baby.
Although the series has been running for 32 years with 32 Christmas and other holiday celebrations, the characters are frozen in time, staying at the same ages they were in the first episode.
The best part about the show is the always-changing opening sequence, which has been a running joke of the series. Prior to the shows transition to HD format, the three changing elements are a chalkboard gag, Lisa’s (awesome!) saxophone solo, and a couch gag. The first one features Bart writing a different sentence repeatedly on a chalkboard at Springfield Elementary, and it ends with the family sitting on the living room couch accompanied by a visual joke. In one episode the couch turned into a giant octopus and ate the entire family! The HD format episodes also include many recurring characters and a billboard gag, which changes each episode.
Just to give you an idea of Homer’s character, the following are some of his quotes:
“To alcohol! The cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.”
“Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that’s even remotely true.” (Fox News and Tucker Carlson have taken that to heart…)
“Bart, with $10,000, we’d be millionaires! We could buy all kinds of useful things like… love!”
“If something’s hard to do, then it’s not worth doing.”
“Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try.”
“All my life I’ve had one dream, to achieve my many goals.”
You gotta love that one!