As a lifelong, yellow-blooded fan of “The Simpsons” this is hard to say, but I have to: It’s time to retire the show. As the plotlines have become increasingly wacky, many longtime viewers who grew up absolutely loving the show have stopped watching altogether.
I can’t remember the last time that I watched a whole recently made or new episode. Maybe it’s because viewers like me are out of school, have jobs and lives — hopefully — and responsibilities, which takes up the time that was otherwise spent rehashing hilarious lines. However, I believe if “The Simpsons” was still cutting-edge and funny, I would still watch.
From the early 1990s to about 10 years ago, the show was appointment viewing at its best. Thursdays at 8 o’clock, and then Sundays, were happy times with friends, spent with our favorite first family of cartoon comedy.
The show will premier its 27th season on Fox this fall. It began with brief sketches during bookend commercial breaks on “The Tracy Ullman Show.” Since the first season in 1989, “The Simpsons” creators had a great run, got rich and are living legends.
But don’t get sad just yet. I’m not suggesting the famous family and great supporting characters disappear completely. As so many in cold states dream to one day, after Homer and Marge retire and make the big move to a senior-living community in Florida, the show should come back with more movies or as a miniseries. Or what about with an update?
What Springfield supporter wouldn’t watch Bart and Lisa in high school as they dodge the grown, pimpled bullies and a teenage-nerd Millhouse? Lisa has long been way too smart and aware for a second grader, but would be great as an earnest and high-achieving high school student with Ivy League dreams.
But with the recent rumors that Sideshow Bob — in this year’s Halloween special — will finally kill Bart, and that Homer and Marge will break up next season, “The Simpsons” has clearly jumped the shark and lost its magic ingredients. I was even OK with the strange plot of “The Principal and the Pauper” from season nine, where staple character Principal Seymour Skinner was revealed to be an impostor who was really named Armin Tamzarian. After he’s found out to have stolen the real Skinner’s identity, the erstwhile vagabond Tamzerian rides off on his badass motorcycle and leaves the elementary school kids in the dust with the words “Up yours, Children!”
Movie adaptations of television shows are always hard to pull off, and “The Simpsons Movie” released in 2007 disappointed, but I could see others being better. Or maybe a spin-off focused on some of the show’s more well-known or likable characters would work, say with characters like Comic Book Guy and Moe Szyslak? Wait, these two aren’t the best examples. That one might just be sort of sad to watch.
Theories about “The Simpsons” and the world of Springfield, from people with obviously too much time, are numerous. One hypothesis is Homer has been in a coma since 1993 and that all of the storylines from then on are his fantastical dreams. This theory does explain how the show took a turn from its early years, with stories about Bart and Lisa. Because as the show became more popular, it made a transition from episodes focused on ordinary things, like Bart cheating on an IQ test and Lisa having a crush on her teacher, to more zany plotlines centered around Homer and his different jobs or the family’s world travels.
To keep it fresh, the show could continue to go the opposite direction and make “The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase” episode from season eight real. This would mean actually producing episodes where Springfield’s top cop, Chief Wiggum, moves to New Orleans to become a private investigator, Homer gets magic powers, Bart finds two long-lost brothers, spinster Selma gets married and an alien named Ozmodiar who only Homer can see is introduced.
What’s wrong with these ideas? They might actually be a lot better than what is being produced now as the writers only recycle the same dynamics, but with insert trending topic or current pop star here.
Noah Zuss is a reporter for TheBlot Magazine.