Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Obits: The Simpsons - 1989-2008

For nearly twenty years, The Simpsons entered our homes on Sunday nights (a real fan would know that back in the early 1990s, FOX aired them on Thursday nights for about two years, before returning them back to Sundays, where they originally aired) and filled our televisions with a warm glow of smart off the collar social satire and whacky antics.

However, The Simpsons are no more.

The Simpsons tv programme died after a long struggle to maintain it's cutting edge humor and relevance. This past summer, The Simpsons Movie generated enough hype to get people talking again about the aging (and currently longest running network televsion series) show, but even this writer was mildly bored with the film, which brought nothing new to the show, except a longer episode and Marge Simpson's usage of "goddamnit."

Oh, and Bart Simpson's yellow cartoon penis.

Regardless, what really started spreading the cancer in what was left of The Simpsons was the advent of competitive adult-oriented cartoons, on the same network, virtually in the same time slot.

Family Guy was first introduced to viewers in early 2000, but was much lauded for it's similarities to that of The Simpsons and soon went away. However, in 2004 there was a resurgance of interest when reruns of the Family Guy programme aired on Cartoon Network's [adult swim] line up, causing a renewal in contract for Family Guy. This did not bode well for The Simpsons.

At the same time, over across the way on cable television, South Park, a crudely animated, absolutely filthy cartoon was getting much hype. For the creators of South Park it was easy to stay cutting edge of the day's news and events due to a faster turn around time to create new episodes (Though there have been 19 seasons of The Simpsons to date, there are 12 of South Park, who have been on the air for half the time.), while The Simpson's seem to reference current events some time after they've expired.

Sadly, towards it's end, The Simpsons simply fell out of touch with the average American, as the plots of each episode seemed to gravitate towards some crazed scheme involving Homer, which would make Marge upset. And with the simple, almost ADD-like quality of the writing on Family Guy (with most of their pop culture references stemming from 1980s television...) most average viewers seemed to lament the obscure pop-culture references of the Simpsons (need further proof? Read this guy's blog...he's a writer for the Simpsons and although he's cool enough, something about what he's talking about gives me the impression that the show's writers are really reaching too hard to be "funny" ...read it here: http://time-blog.com/nerd_world/ ).

Like all things that were great twenty years ago, The Simpsons should fade away gracefully and with dignity (ahem, Metallica, Tom Cruise?). For millions of fans of the beloved show, and the generations that have had the chance to make The Simpsons a part of their weekly life the show will be missed.

But fear not! There's still plenty of really good tv out there! The Office, Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles, and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia are just to name a few of outstanding television shows that can take your mind off of the absence of your favorite yellow-toned family.

To The Simpsons, personally I'd say: You'll be missed, but then again, I've been missing you since 2001.

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