And next, they should watch "All in the Family" and maybe have a stroke:
"THE SIMPSONS is horrible and problematic and not funny and Lisa is the
only good part and stop laughing at it," explains Vice's expert
millennial garbage baby.
When Homer questions his religion in 'Homer the Heretic', he
says it's okay to be "Christian, or Jewish or..." as he points
at Apu's Ganesh shrine, "...whatever that is." That sort of
othering feels very personal.
Okay... let's pick this nonsense apart.
1) It's not Homer who says that, it's Rev. Lovejoy.
2) He says, "Christian, Jew, or miscellaneous."
3) Apu is offended and SAYS SO.
And he notes that there are "1.5 billion of us". This is plainly one of
about 20,000 jokes at the *expense* of Christians that this fucking
idiot has managed to somehow decide is some other, very improbable thing.
And then there's this:
It's about a white family in a small, mostly white town.
Umm.. no. It's about a yellow family in a small, mostly yellow town.
Until this week, I had never seen a single episode of THE SIMPSONS. I
can see your gaping maw, so let me explain: My parents weren't fans of
animated television, and by the time I reached adulthood, I had no
desire to dredge up a box set or chase the episodes down online. The
"golden age" of the show-- season three to somewhere around season ten,
or so I've been told-- isn't available on any of the streaming services
I subscribe to. So I simply never watched. When I told my coworkers,
picture of the kid with blue hair and red glasses, asking, "Do you know
who this is?"
"Of course," I responded, pulling up the meme of him throwing a frisbee
to no one, running after it, and throwing it back.
"Do you know his name?" my coworker followed up. Nope.
I have always been familiar with the cultural cachet of the show-- the
celebrity cameos, the impact on popular culture, and yes, the memes. But
I didn't know the names of characters or even the vastness of the show's
run. I simply assumed THE SIMPSONS peaked in the 2000s, then vanished. I
had no idea it was still on air.
But when I decided-- really, was forced by my editors-- to check the
show out, I was intimidated by the nearly 639 episodes, so I searched
for someone who could be my guide. I found Tyler Shores, a PhD candidate
at Cambridge who taught a class at UC Berkeley called "THE SIMPSONS and
Philosophy" in 2003. "You see classes that reference pop culture more
frequently now, but at the time, there weren't really courses that used
non-academic or classic texts," Shores told me over Skype. "I designed
this course for a semester, and I really didn't expect so many students
to show up, but I had 500 the first year." The class became so well
known it was even recognized by THE SIMPSONS writers and featured in the
episode 'Little Girl in the Big Ten'.
Shores selected 11 episodes for me to watch, based off of my
self-professed interests, with the intent of providing a healthy range.
I trusted him; his knowledge of the show seemed impressively
encyclopedic, and I have to say, every single episode I watched, nearly
all from the golden age, gave me something different-- a different core
cast member feature, a different narrative formula, a different target
of satire, a celebrity cameo. He also included one of his favorites and
one of Matt Groening's favorites. Here is the full list:
Lisa the Vegetarian; season 7, episode 5
Homer the Heretic; season 4, episode 3
Last Exit to Springfield; season 4, episode 17
Homer's Enemy; season 8, episode 23
Marge vs. The Monorail; season 4, episode 12
And Maggie Makes Three; season 6, episode 13
Homer the Great; season 6, episode 12
One Fish Two Fish Blowfish Blue Fish; season 2, episode 11
Homer Badman; season 6, episode 9
Treehouse of Horror I; season 2, episode 3
Who Shot Mr. Burns?; season 6, episode 25 and season 7, episode 1
Bad news first: On balance, I did not enjoy this show. This isn't
particularly surprising-- I have never enjoyed sitcoms, and have always
found it difficult to sink my teeth into a show that isn't serialized or
at least features long narrative arcs. A lot of people enjoy shows
without continuity because anyone can watch any episode, no background
knowledge required, but that quality has always made a show less
enjoyable for me-- the only sitcom I truly love, THE GOOD PLACE, is
But my dislike of it extends beyond the sitcom format. You might as well
call me Frank Grimes, because I absolutely hate Homer, and couldn't
stand watching the show mostly due to his character. I don't find him
funny or likable-- he's an insufferable, pathetic freeloader. I don't
understand how people can bear him. You're either laughing at his
expense, which simply makes me sad, or you're supposed to laugh at the
scenarios he manages to get into and out of due to his inanity. And most
of his triumphs seem to be at the expense of people who are actually
conscientious and hard working.
It follows that 'Homer's Enemy', a sort of meta-episode where Homer's
charmed life is challenged by the hardworking Frank Grimes, was my
favorite episode of the bunch. Shores told me it was also one of Matt
Groening's favorites. I respect the show immensely for its willingness
to play devil's advocate toward one of its main characters, and the
episode displayed a level of awareness that the show has become famous
for, but I found myself wishing that it was Homer who died at the end of
the episode, rather than Grimey.
The other crux of my discontent with THE SIMPSONS comes from the way
Marge is continually treated like a doormat. Obviously, THE SIMPSONS
started in the 1989, before "political correctness"-- otherwise known as
being tolerant and conscientious towards people-- was a concern for a
lot of folks. I didn't go in expecting it to be free of prejudice, but
the fact that people still love the show and considered it progressive
for its time gave me a kernel of hope. Not so, at least not when it came
to the abuse heaped on Marge. I don't understand why she doesn't just
divorce Homer's dumb ass. I didn't even have to take notes as I watched
in order to remember these moments:
In 'Marge vs. The Monorail', she pitches the idea of using Springfield's
budgetary surplus for repairing the roads, which is only accepted after
Homer's father makes a case, ironically against road repairs (I assume
this is supposed to be funny). Marge gets ignored (is this supposed to
be satire?). She then investigates the monorail to learn it's a fraud.
Despite her having done all of the work, it's Homer who saves the day
despite being an idiot (I assume this is also supposed to be funny).
Yay, men take the credit once again.
In 'Homer's Enemy', Marge cooks a nice lobster dinner so Homer can
reconcile with Frank Grimes. Homer hasn't even told Marge that Grimes
doesn't know about this dinner (which, I guess, is also supposed to be
funny). At this point, this show feels like an infinite setup for Marge
to put in so much bloody work only to have her oafish husband fuck it
all up. I hate him. I hate him so much.
'And Maggie Makes Three' perhaps made me the angriest of the episodes--
an astounding assertion, given my blood pressure during the above
moments. Three separate people recommended this episode to me as
"heartfelt". It's the episode where Homer is able to quit his hated
nuclear plant gig in order to work his dream job at the bowling alley.
That premise, at least, is funny. When Marge becomes pregnant, she hides
it from her husband because she knows his dream job can't financially
support another child. Through flashbacks, we learn that every time
Marge is pregnant, Homer apparently gets so angry he rips his hair out
(which is somehow supposed to be funny). Homer is horrible at reading
his wife's emotions or caring for her in any way, including her morning
sickness (which is also somehow supposed to be funny). He then bitches
and moans-- even though SHE'S THE ONE literally giving birth-- until he
physically holds baby Maggie. He instantly loves Maggie and returns to
the power plant to financially support her. Mr. Burns erects the sign
"Don't forget: You're here forever", which Homer covers in Maggie's baby
photos so that the sign reads "do it for her". Cue the awwws. Because
Homer had feelings about his own child for approximately three seconds
on screen, it's a touching episode. Give Homer a fucking trophy.
In 'Homer Badman', when Homer goes to a candy convention, Marge is his
candy mule. Fun.
'Homer Badman' also made me angry more generally, in the way only a
episode of a 90s show could. In this one, Homer is indicted by the media
for "sexually harassing" a female grad student. Except he was only
really grabbing a gummy Venus de Milo off of her butt, not grabbing her
ass. He gets featured on a tabloid-style show that edits his interview
to make him "admit" to being a harasser. While this episode does a great
job demonstrating the way media can snowball out of control, the
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Don't have a cow, man.
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