18 years and 1 Feature Film

SimpsonsThe Simpsons have been the dominant force on television for almost two decades! It has been the longest running show on American television.

The movie created a buzz for all Simpsons Super fans, who had been waiting for this moment for a long time. The incredible family has come a long way, graduating from a short slot on the Tracy Ulman show in 1987 to a half hour prime time television animated series on Fox Television.

The four fingered yellow Springfielders first started out as a brain child of Matt Groening, as a subtle and imaginative look at the typical dysfunctional American family. He decided to use the names from his own family and put them together by forming a unique clan, consisting of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie.

Groening conceived The Simpsons while sitting in the lobby of producer of James L. Brook’s office. He had planned to submit his first attempt, Life in Hell, a comic strip which dealt with matters which could have been sensitive for viewers and required immense publicity and an open mind. He then sold his idea of the family of five, naming characters from his family and replaced his own by Bart. He has also candidly admitted to pulling off the pranks similar to those of Bart in his own childhood.

The Simpsons have known to address social and political issues. They have in their own peculiar way tried to solve a few issues, from the Iraq war to out-sourcing from peer pressure to TV shows.

The idiosyncrasies of Groening’s characters, has influenced all the viewers, be it Homers drooling or Bart’s “Eat my shorts!”

Groening has tried to simplify and blow up his characters to extraordinary levels; he has shown Homer (voiced by Dan Castellaneta) as the sole bread winner and a man who slacks off at his work at a nuclear plant and has never in the 18 seasons shown any sign of intelligence. Homer has known little about his mother, a hippie, who abandoned him at birth (but shown in later episodes to have returned and then again run off).

Marge (voiced by Julie Kavner) the only adult in the family is known to be a dotting mother trying to cope with the situations which confront her as time passes. She comes from a family of perpetual cigarette smoking twin sisters who berate her on her decision to stay with Homer. Marge is shown to have aspirations; she has tried her hand at being a police woman and an author. Like women struggling in adverse family conditions, she has suppressed her ambitions for her family.

Bart (voiced by Nancy Cartwright) is the eldest of the three children. The ten year old is one of the chief reasons for Homer being bald. Bart is a notorious rebel, who idolizes Krusty the Clown and has foiled Sideshow Bob’s attempts on his and Krusty’s life. Bart is a very gifted but lazy child. He has shown to have streaks of brilliance and a flash forward episode has seen him wasting his life away in a meaningless job just like his father.

Lisa (voiced by Yeardley Smith) the eight year old vegetarian is a child prodigy and a very gifted saxophone player, idolizing Bleeding-Gums Murphy. Lisa Simpson may not be the most hilarious character on the show, but has a very dark and dry sense of humor, and she often acts twice her age. She is one of the few people who stand by her views, is an environmentalist and a feminist.

Maggie (Squeaked by Nancy Cartwright) the youngest, is Homer’s favorite. She has shown signs of early genius and has often surpassed Lisa’s wit. She even has a criminal record in her short life when she shot Mr. Burns.

The series even has a parody on Tom and Jerry with their own version called The Itchy and Scratchy Show, where the violence in children programming is amplified.

There are many other key recurring characters such as Moe, Chief Wiggum, and Apu are voiced by Hank Azaria (Americas Sweetheart fame). Harry Shearer provides voices for Mr. Burns, Smithers, Principal Skinner, Ned Flanders and Dr. Hibbers.

In addition to the main cast, Pamela Hayden, Tress MacNeille, Marcia Wallace, Maggie Roswell and Russi Taylor voice supporting characters.

The characters have however never aged in the entire series so even though the novelty seems to be fading. There have been criticisms over the declining quality of the show. The makers have tried to maintain the freshness by adding guest stars like Ringo Starr and The Rolling stones, and from stalwarts like Dustin Hoffman to Michael Jackson playing themselves or other characters.

The Simpsons opening sequence is the most memorable hallmark of the series. It usually starts with Bart in detention writing lines and Lisa playing an advanced solo in music class and end with a unique assortment of events as the five settle down in front of the TV on a rugged old couch.

Simpsons have become so popular that Homers “D’oh” has finally been incorporated into the Oxford Dictionary The satirical parody has picked up several major TV awards. Time magazine’s December 31, 1999 issue named it the 20th century’s best television series, and on January 14, 2000 it was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The Simpsons ranked #8 on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time It has been adjudged the best comic series by adults in the age group of 20 to 40.

Simpsons have influenced people and is now often referred to by many psychiatrists as stress buster of the new generation.

Stress buster or pure entertainment The Simpsons have ruled the Television top spot for years and are posed to rule the roost for many more years to come.

Patanjali Pahwa