The Simpsons is like the family pet that we grew up with and loved dearly. There are countless moments littered throughout the childhoods of multiple generations that are marked by our trusted yellow friends. Whether it’s Homer’s utter stupidity, Lisa’s strong intellect, or the mischievous Bart – one way or another, the Simpsons and all the characters that ran alongside them are etched into our collective nostalgia. But just like our childhood dog that grew old and sick, it’s time for the Simpsons to be put down.
Although the television program still continues today, its popularity and pop-culture defining humour does not. Last year the Simpsons, at the end of its 25th season, received an all time ratings low across the world – barely 3.4 million viewers compared to its high of 33.9 million in 1990. Even Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart, recently called for the Simpsons to come to a respectful end.
Unfortunately that point has already been passed.
In the glory days of the nineties, the Simpsons was known for a crude humour and sharp wit that appealed to adults and kids alike. With the bad boy Bart sprouting lines like ‘eat my shorts’ and using ‘cus words like ‘damn’ and ‘hell’, the show regularly courted controversy with the retrospectively conservative TV standards of the day. A tidal wave of success followed with bulk merchandise and celebrity appearances a regular occurrence. The show became the top of its field but at the turn of century ended things changed and this once great cartoon began to gradually decline.
Shows like Family Guy and Futurama entered the fray, quickly followed by an outpouring of similar cartoon comedies. These shows were in no doubt influenced by the Simpsons, especially Futurama, but they diverged in both hilarity and popularity. Whereas Family Guy took jabs at topics the Simpsons had previously only delicately touched upon – sex, drugs, religion – our yellow friends went the opposite direction.
Anyone who watched the past 10 to 15 seasons would have noticed a decline in comedic value. Bart’s shenanigans dwindled, Homer became increasingly stupid, Marge increasingly annoying, while the story lines fell into mere absurdity and irrelevance – even for a cartoon show. The show’s writers were changed over and over again yet none were able to hit that same mark of the glory days.
While Family Guy, American Dad and yes, South Park, make you laugh through controversy and obscenity, the Simpsons instead went for the safe ground and made their humour more wholesome in order to grab the audience other shows left behind. Evidently, this has failed, and even a recent ploy about Marge and Homer breaking up and Side Show Bob finally killing Bart, received relatively mediocre attention on social media.
We should all hold a special place in our hearts for the Simpsons. It’s a show that has out done all others in terms of popularity and longevity, but like your old family dog, there’s a point where its existence becomes painful. The show’s voice actors have even had their paychecks cut to make up for shortfalls in ratings. Despite this, the TV network Fox has renewed the Simpsons for another two seasons – 27 and 28.
If only for its own sake and legacy, it’s time for the Simpsons to die.
Words by Dominic Cansdale.
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