What are we going to do about the Simpsons?
Right now, the television series featuring a yellow family with multiple, multiple problems is on its 25th season. It is the longest running sitcom on television in the United States right now.
Marcia Wallace, who played Edna Krabapple on the Simpsons, died at the age of 70. It’s a sad moment not only for fans of Wallace, who also appeared on the Bob Newhart Show, but also for the character who exist in the show’s world.
Any television show goes through phases where it’s just not as good as they used to be. The Simpsons is now in its 25th season and it has aired almost 530 episodes, which is just ridiculous considering its contemporaries.
And yet, Fox is looking to keep the show going until the end of the decade, so that’s until about 2020. In five years, a lot can happen. Not to sound dire, but Yeardly Smith (Lisa, 1964), Dan Castellaneta (Homer, 1957), Julie Kavner (Marge, 1950), and Nancy Carwright (Bart, 1957), what would happen if any of these voice actors suddenly died? Would it be as convenient as simply replacing the character with someone else? What would happen?
While the characters might be immortals, the actors are not as we’ve seen with the sad passing of Wallace this week. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to end the show now? Isn’t it just going to get worse? The immortality of the Simpsons is starting to cause problems, especially considering their voice talent is slowly starting to disappear.
“We had a dilemma at the very beginning of the show, because the way I had originally written it was that it was timeless,” Matt Groening, the show’s creator told the LA TImes last year. “And then in order to tell a story we anchored the Simpsons in time and had Marge and Homer graduate from high school in 1974; if that were true, they’re pretty old now. Bart has remembered a lot of things since 1989, and yet he’s 10,” he said.
He also told KBBL-TV in Portland this little nugget about the show a few weeks ago:
“I’m surprised The Simpsons is still on TV, frankly. I think we should have ended it years ago,” Matt Groening told KBBL-TV in his hometown of Portland, Ore., when asked about the show’s 25th season, which premieres Sunday, Sept. 29.
Groening, 59, admitted that the show’s quality, as well as its ratings, has dropped over the years. Even the series’ long-awaited movie, he felt, was “disappointing.”
“It’s cool to reach 1,000 episodes or whatever we’re at; but truthfully, I haven’t watched the show regularly in about 15 years,” he said. “On Sundays I watch stuff like Breaking Bad or Mad Men.
“I did see the episode where it was in the ’90s, and Homer fronts this Nirvana-type band. God, those were awful. I hope someone got fired over that.”
Even the show’s creator, to a degree, wants to see the show come to an end. For anyone who has grown up with the Simpsons, we’ve seen its decline. While people still love the series, most people can agree that after the first eight seasons, the show started to go on a downward spiral. The two main problems for the show are: it’s going on too damn long and since the characters are immortal it prevents the show from growing in any way.
All the writers are able to do it take the characters down different roots and take away from the things that made them really special. Homer, for instance, when was the last time we saw him come home from work? Considering that his job at the Nuclear Power Plant in Springfield resulted in many of the most difficult challenges the family has faced, Homer’s job has turned into more of a running joke than an actual problem for him and his family.
The struggle his family faced was real. Now they’re able to travel to other countries on a whim through a kind of pervasive deus ex machina. Simpsons writers just provide the Simpson family with whatever they want now. “Just go! Explore the world and make fun of other cultures on the bank of the narrative.”
What would happen if the Simpsons ended? What would happen if the writers allow the characters to grow a few years? For god sake, Lisa is still in Grade Two! (Or one, I can’t really remember right now). In any event, change is good and the show is due for a change or due to end.