The Simpsons was a groundbreaking show
when it came out. Now, despite a few highlights, the last few years have
been slightly painful for long-time fans.
Somewhere inside, my cooler-than-thou seventeen-year-old self is rolling her eyes at my slightly more cynical adult self for even suggesting it. But the question has to be asked; is the cartoon family done?
Should The Simpsons Just Stop?
Before we even discuss the downhill, all-too-familiar themes and plots of the latest episodes, let me give nay-sayers a clue: in high schools, the only people who watch The Simpsons are nerds.
Before I start getting hate mail, potential mobs should know that I was (am?) one of those self-proclaimed geeks. So with a tip of the hat to geek culture, let me explain.
Remember how it was back in our day? The Simpsons spanned social classes in and out of high school. It held the place shows like South Park and The Family Guy now hold; attracting nerds, punks, and preps alike.
This de-popularization stems from the show's repetitive nature.
The Simpsons is not only reinventing the wheel, it is reinventing the wheel it invented.
What made the show great was the political satire with the sometimes-sappy after-school special moral at the end. The show has kept the cliché morals, and bagged the witty satire.
This season in "Pranksta Rap" Bart faked his own kidnapping and learns an important lesson when Kirk Van Houten is jailed for it. In season three, Bart pretends to be a boy fallen down a well in "Radio Bart" and learns an important lesson when the townspeople he fooled ultimately rescue him from that very fate. The latter was a direct reference to the baby Jessica incident and the lip-service outpouring of support from citizens and celebrities alike. The former is recycled material.
Also in this season Selma decides she wants to adopt a child in "Goo Goo Gai Pan." Selma wanted children in season four ("Selma's Choice) but changed her mind. In the first version, Selma decides motherhood is too much trouble and ends up with a lizard; in the second (break out the hankies) she gets a baby girl.
And please don't make me mention Frank Grimes' son.
Of course a show is going to recycle some themes and plots, but The Simpsons has opted for the ultimate ego-stroke. It relies on jokes that once created a guffaw in the viewer (how many times can "D'oh" be funny?) but now have lost all humor: the verbal equivalent of the ball in the groin. In addition, instead of clever subtle jabs at society and politics, they have devolved into lame one-liners (a FOX News van that promotes Bush for the election).
I finally decided that the show must be wrapped up tastefully as I was thumbing through The Simpsons: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family, and realized that I would rather watch old episodes than new ones. I don't think it was nostalgia, either; I believe it was taste.