Like most people my age, The Simpsons had a huge influence on my life as I grew up during the prime era of the series, which most people consider being Seasons 2 through 9. To be honest, I haven’t watched, or thought about The Simpsons since the movie came out in 2007. When FXX ran the “Every Simpsons Ever” marathon, I popped in on some of the recent episodes just out of curiosity. It was unwatchable television. I knew The Simpsons had gotten bad, but I never in a million years thought it could degenerate to this point.
I admit that I watched very, very little of these recent offerings, but the episodes were so unfunny that I literally almost cried. Since the marathon, I blocked The Simpsons out of my mind once again. That is until today. In the upcoming 27th season, Homer and Marge will be “legally separated.” And just to add salt to the wound, he’ll apparently fall in love with a pharmacist voiced by Lena Dunham. I don’t know if it’s simply the obnoxious factor in which all that entails, but something about this news sparked a rage in me that may have sub-consciously been there for years, but the one conclusion I came to was this – for the love of Abraham Simpson, please end this series.
If the creators, writers and cast are all still having a great time, who am I to tell them to stop making money? I can only speak from my perspective as a fan. This is merely an outlet for me to vent. It’s not specifically the Homer/Marge plotline, but the series is getting to the point where it’s ruining the overall legacy of The Simpsons. This isn’t one of those “Well, it’s not as good as it used to be, but it’s still funny” scenarios. While that may have been the case for some of the seasons following year nine, the series right now is just plain bad.
I know it’s easy to say, “Ignore the new episodes.” I used to be able to do that just fine, but it’s getting harder. I can’t speak for every purist Simpsons fan my age, but the cloud of how bad the series has gotten is starting to affect my view of the older episodes. The longevity of the series has gotten people to forget just how truly funny this show used to be. You’re only as good as your last whatever, and the show has been stretched to the point where the prime of the series is getting lost in the shuffle. Go back and watch Seasons 4-6 of The Simpsons. This was comedy at the highest level. I also don’t want to hear the argument, “You’re just being nostalgic. You grew up with those episodes and can’t think objectively about it.” That is complete bullshit. I’ll make it very simple for everyone – one era of the show was hilarious, and the other isn’t. It has nothing to do with the decades in which they were released. So let’s cut that crap right now!
This leads me to the most important argument of why I desperately want the series to end We have a generation of people who are currently growing up with the modern day Simpsons – the bad Simpsons. That’s the real tragedy here. Maybe they find it funny, but what they don’t understand is what the show used to be, and they probably never will. I suppose it’s up to the parents to make sure they sit their kids down to watch the glory days, but who knows if that will even stick? Kids will pull the typical, “Whatever old man, that’s your Simpsons. I’m not watching that.” Or even worse, they’ll say, “That show was never good anyway, so why would I watch the old ones?”
The bigger issue will be when the series finally does end, and it gets immortalized in re-runs. It will be nothing but a convoluted, jumbled cluster you know what. Eight seasons of greatness will be lost inside 20+ years of mediocrity and crap. It’s like trying to find red liquorice under mounds of black liquorice. Will it even be worth it? Will vintage Simpsons forever be buried under Spider Pig’s feces? One of the biggest reasons Seinfeld will live on for generations is because it did not over stay its welcome. To coin a Seinfeld phrase, they went out on a high note. They left in their prime. Aside from a couple early stumbles, whenever a Seinfeld re-run is on TV, you know it’s going to be quality. That won’t happen with The Simpsons. Will the re-runs fade away? It’s not unfathomable to think. And before you say it will be on Netflix, Hulu, or some kind of other online outlet, we don’t know that for sure, and it still doesn’t change the fact that there will be mounds of garbage to sift through.
When The Simpsons Movie came out, I felt that was a nice return to form. It wasn’t perfect though. The first half was vintage Simpsons, but the second half was bad Simpsons. It’s an interesting dichotomy that the movie presented both the funny and non-funny era of the show. Regardless though, that would have been a good opportunity to ride off into the sunset.
We go back to what sparked all this, the Homer/Marge separation. Homer and Marge will obviously be together when all is said and done, but the idea of this storyline even happening (because what else can they do at this point?) is frustrating. The Simpsons clearly still has ratings as the show keeps getting renewed, but I feel there are many Simpson fans who are forcing themselves to watch so they can one day claim that they saw every episode. When I say I want the show to end, it comes from a place not of anger, but from wanting the good episodes to still have a place in history. Sadly, it might be too late. If you take one thing away from this, let it be the following – buy the first ten seasons on DVD or Blu-Ray. Don’t let the glory days fall into obscurity. Don’t let your memory of The Simpsons be Homer dating a pharmacist voiced by Lena Dunham. Let it be the dental plan. Let it be the monorail. Let it be Sideshow Bob stepping on rakes. Let it be Lionel Hutz. Let it be The Simpsons.
The Simpsons airs Sundays on FX
Daniel Cohen is the Film Editor for Pop-Break. Aside from reviews, Daniel does a weekly box office predictions column, and also contributes monthly Top Tens and Op-Ed’s on all things film. Daniel is a graduate of Bates College with a degree in English, and also studied Screenwriting at UCLA. He can also be read on www.movieshenanigans.com. His movie crush is Jessica Rabbit. Follow him on Twitter @dcohenwriter.