The Success Of The Simpsons Essay Research

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The Success Of The Simpsons Essay, Research Paper The Improbable Long-Term Success of The Simpsons When examining the history of modern prime-time television, there is a certain pattern that virtually every successful show inevitably falls into. After a period of initial success, perhaps lasting three or four years, the writing on the show becomes stale by using the same format and same jokes over and over. The viewing audience becomes bored, and eventually, the show fades into television oblivion. Or, as Jeff MacGregor states in The New York Times, “Historically…(successful shows) collapse under the weight of their own complacency, hanging on for a few lifeless seasons while the producers wait to cash out their millions and move to Maui.” Based on this premise, it

would seem that “The Simpsons,” an animated series that debuted in 1987 as thirty second segments on “The Tracey Ullman Show,” should have worn out its welcome long ago. However, “The Simpsons” is still going strong today. The secret to the show’s success lies in its producers’ ability to understand the expectations of the television audience and the culture that surrounds them. This understanding, combined with “wry sarcasm, topical themes, and superb scripting that puts most other comedies to shame,” as well as some old-fashioned slapstick comedy, makes “The Simpsons” one of the most popular programs in television history. The show is often complex and highly intellectual, while remaining funny at the most basic levels. As Jim Gleeson states in The

College Tribune, “The show is rare in rewarding attention to detail, with especially obscure references that… even if you had never heard of…you would still laugh, giddy with the crafted sleight of it all.” This fact that the show works on several levels at once draws a generationally diverse fan base. The adults are attracted by the surprisingly sophisticated dialogue, while the children enjoy the clumsy antics of Homer and the traditionally “cartoonish” aspects of the program. An example of a multidimensional scene occurs in the episode where Marge, the mother of the Simpson family, starts a crusade against campaign violence. Maggie, the baby, is mesmerized by an “Itchy and Scratchy” cartoon show in which the mouse pummels the cat over the head with a

sledgehammer. Later in the episode, Maggie imitates the actions of the mouse by hitting her father, Homer, on the head with a sledgehammer, with the music from “Psycho” playing the background. For the younger audience, the sight of Homer getting hit on the head is funny, much in the same way that the Simpson children laugh as the mouse batters the cartoon cat. The older portion of the viewers takes additional pleasure in recognizing the allusion to the famous horror film. Another simple example of multilevel humor features Homer sitting on the couch, while another Homer walks past the outside window. Although it takes place in a matter of seconds, this scene is one of countless silly but curiously sensational quirks that makes the show “a masterpiece of tiny, throw-away

details that accumulate into a worldview.” Because the producers of The Simpsons understand the current industry guidelines for humor and political correctness, they are able to create humor by bluntly crossing these presumed socially acceptable boundaries, while still sending a positive message. One frequently addressed subject on the show is religion, which is a normally sensitive issue on television. The Simpsons, however tackles religious thought head-on. In one episode, Homer skips church on a particularly cold, snowy Sunday and has the best day of his life. After making his “patented, space-age, out-of-this world Moon Waffles” (melted caramel and waffle batter wrapped around a stick of butter), he watches football on T.V. and, upon finding a penny on the ground, asks