Television

This Just In: The Simpsons Is Still On the Air

Friday A/V Club: Feeling nostalgic for a show that technically is still around

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Fox

The most striking thing about this week's Great Apu Debate isn't that various people like or dislike a '90s cartoon character. (*) It's the fact that the show is still on the air. I just called Apu "a '90s cartoon character," but they're actually still making up stories about him. No, really: They even have the same guy doing his voice. It's wild.

I kept watching new episodes of The Simpsons a lot longer than most of my friends kept watching new episodes of The Simpsons, making it about as far as 2009—but man, now that's nearly a decade ago. I can't even say "it isn't funny anymore," because for all I know the show has had a hidden revival and is secretly funny again. (Hey, it happened once before.) I'd hope that one of you would tell me about that if it happened, but I can't really expect you to, because let's be frank: You aren't watching either.

And this week the series suddenly wandered back into the news. But not because it did something radically new. We're talking about it because it was talking about itself, and by "talking about itself" I mean "talking about stuff it did in the '90s."

It's an odd sort of double vision, to be living and dead at the same time. The Simpsons is an old man haunted by his own ghost.

A couple years ago, Simpsonwave videos were big for a second or two. For those of you who missed their brief moment, these are fragments of old Simpsons episodes remixed into lo-fi nostalgic-sad mood pieces. Here's one:

Here's another:

Even as The Simpsons continued to air on Fox each week, those mini-movies treated the show not as an ongoing program but as a loose dreamscape of distorted memories, their images irrevocably tied to the past. Simpsonwave was an offshoot from the whole hypnagogic pop movement, a micro-genre obsessed with cultural memory. And you know what? That's been going on for a decade-plus now too; it's no more novel than The Simpsons is. Soon I'll be nostalgic for nostalgic remixes of early Simpsons episodes, and meanwhile new episodes of The Simpsons will keep coming out without anyone noticing, except occasionally when the series responds to a controversy about a choice some long-retired writers made when the Soviet Union still existed.

(* I'd write a post about Apu, but my views on the subject are unclickably moderate. Within the hermetic world of The Simpsons, I think Apu is perfectly defensible. I also think any South Asian who had to put up with kids yelling "Apu" at him has every right to resent the character; God knows I've hated TV shows for far less than that. Apu doesn't offend me, and the fact that he offends you doesn't offend me either. Peace.)

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  1. “making it about as far as 2009”

    The last time the Simpsons was still good was somewhere around 2003. And that’s being generous

    1. If I know my Simpson’s seasons, that means that last time you liked it is that episode where Marge gets breast implants.

      1. Like I said, I was being generous. Probably the last episode that was still good was probably when they divided Springfield because of the area code

        1. This is kinda long, but it is worth watching to understand when and how The Simpsons started to suck. It describes how the joke writing process deteriorated, from about 30 re-writes on a scene to fine tune and pack in joke on top of joke, to simple gags that take very little creative energy.

          1. It describes how the joke writing process deteriorated, from about 30 re-writes on a scene to fine tune and pack in joke on top of joke, to simple gags that take very little creative energy.

            I suspect the show started its downhill decline right around the time the writers and producers realized that Fox was never going to cancel the show as long as it drew in at least 10 people with a pulse.

    2. The last time the Simpsons was still good was somewhere around 2003. And that’s being generous

      There was a sudden burst of good episodes the year before they released the movie. And then the movie itself was pretty funny, I thought. Then things started to fade again.

      1. It goes through spurts. Really I think it tends to be more an issue of how many episodes a season are okay, since it seems like writers have so different that it fluctuates wildly.

        1. My biggest complaint is how Homer’s character has morphed from a lovable and decent oaf to a self-serving idiot.

          1. There’s a term, Flanderization, coined from the older treatment of Ned Flanders. It means when a character over time becomes defined by a single trait and that is all they do and represent in the show.

            And the whole show has had a lot of that at this point.

              1. Metalcore is still going I see.

            1. That’s my major gripe with It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.

            2. That’s a basic feature of fiction, BUCS. There are round characters and here are flat characters. Round characters are complex and developed, while flat characters are defined by a single trait and generally serve a specific purpose, often to provide conflict or drama for a round character. Flat characters are prevalent in sitcoms and comedies, for obvious reasons.

              1. The criticism comes from the fact that Ned Flanders was NOT that early on. He wasn’t just a religious person, he was a hardworking family man and entrepreneur. He did get angry, he did have character, but over time that went way.

                That’s the idea of Flanderization, not that some characters are always flat.

                1. Flanders started as a flat character. Later on, they did some episodes that rounded him out. The problem with that is that you then can’t go back to him being flat again.

                  1. Dinkleberg!

                  2. “It’s like I am wearing nothing at all!” is a sentence that has never been uttered by BUCS, mostly because his luxurious pubic hair makes it feel like he has a mink fur scarf wrapped around his genitals at all times.

                    1. It’s upsetting that you know that.

              2. That’s a basic feature of fiction, BUCS. There are round characters and here are flat characters.

                The main problem with The Simpsons is that pretty much every character in the show is a flat character.

            3. That happens sooo much to characters in TV series if they run a long time. It happened a lot on Married With Children, and then they managed to unflatten them after a while, before letting the air out again. Interesting that writers seize on a particular facet of a character as one they think works, then inflate that until it covers everything, when nobody might’ve predicted that would be the facet that’d inflate.

          2. You’re referring to Jerk-ass Homer, who emerged circa season 9.

          3. I think right between season 8 and 9 they just decided that Homer wasn’t just uneducated and dimwitted, he was nearly retarded. The change is palpable if you watch them in sequence now and it really irks me.

      2. I think part of the reason may be that the creators had been doing extensive commentary tracks for the good early seasons and may have been inspired for a little while.

        As if I’d know. I haven’t watched a first-run episode since at least 97.

  2. I was down with Vaporwave.

    1. Vaporwave makes me really depressed. I think I need a vacation.

      1. Wait a second, everything makes me really depressed.

        1. Careful with the depression talk. Simple Mikey’s gonna start thinking you’re Weigel.

          1. I just assume he does already.

  3. You know what else is still on the air? Fairly Odd Parents that’s what.

    1. South Park is still on the air and that’s still funny.

    2. Money is on that it is now cancelled. The creator/showrunner Butch Hartman has split ties with Nick.

      1. That’s unfortunate but it’s been going downhill for a while. At least Spongebob will live on.

        1. I think there are talks of a second movie now.

          Though their big hit currently is The Loud House.

          1. A second movie? I thought they did that already.

  4. Apu doesn’t offend me, and the fact that he offends you doesn’t offend me either. Peace.

    Noooo! Tell me whom to hate!

    1. Why can’t we just laugh at the guy who’s offended by a cartoon and the people who are offended by a guy who is offended by a cartoon? These are supposedly adults.

      “Ha ha”
      – Nelson

      1. Why can’t we just laugh at the guy who’s offended by a cartoon and the people who are offended by a guy who is offended by a cartoon?

        This.

        But why stop there, let’s also laugh at the guy who’s laughing at both the guy offended by a cartoon and the people offended by a guy who is offended by a cartoon.

        And it’s laughing all the way down.

  5. for all I know the show has had a hidden revival and is secretly funny again

    I’ve watched intermittently since the kids have gotten to be the age where it appeals to them. I still don’t sit down and watch like I used to, but the Sky Police episode in 2015 was hilarious and Marge’s knick-knack store subplot in The Great Phatsby in 2017 was pretty entertaining (even it was Marge’s 8th or 9th entrepreneurial attempt). They jumped on the SJW bandwagon for quite a while and it made the show distinctly less edgy. It’s still better than any reboot of Will and Grace and, IMO, Roseanne.

    1. Makes me think of Skycrime from Eagleheart.

  6. The show ended with episode 200, when they moved the town.

  7. I don’t believe I’ve missed an episode. It continues to be unremarkable.

  8. Seriously. That guy who complained about Apu is such a goof.

    Get over yourself and your culture.

    LONG LIVE APU!

  9. “”I also think any South Asian who had to put up with kids yelling “Apu” at him has every right to resent the character””

    Wait… kids did that? Really? I must have been a thing in highly proggie cities like L.A. or N.Y., because I sure as hell never saw it in red state land. Maybe this is where all the proggie projection is coming from.

  10. I’m commenting on Hit & Run in order to buy sex.

    Anybody got a problem with that? I’m asking you, FOSTA/SESTA!

    1. No happy endings here.

  11. When twelve 7-11 stores were given a Kwik-E-Mart makeover to promote the movie, at least one of them was owned by a man whose parents immigrated from India. He didn’t find anything offensive about Apu and figured the show may have been an inspiration for him becoming a 7-11 franchisee.

  12. All this talk of Apu means it’s time for a really bad and racist joke:

    Why do Indian woman have the red dot on their forehead?

    It’s so when she get married, the husband can scratch it off to find out what 7-11 he owns.

  13. “The Simpsons 20 best episodes ever” (2009) is $40 on Amazon at https://goo.gl/1NbUAu

  14. Saya pikir sebagian alasannya mungkin karena para pencipta telah melakukan banyak jejak komentar untuk awal musim yang baik dan mungkin telah terinspirasi untuk sementara waktu.

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