I was sitting in front of my TV at 8 o’clock on a recent Sunday, as I have been for a decade and a half. The channel was set to Fox, and “The Simpsons” was on. As I sat there watching the television, something occurred to me: why am I watching this? The Simpsons, in its prime, was a must-see event every week, and it was probably the greatest show ever aired, but those days are gone, probably forever.
The sad truth is, “The Simpsons” just isn’t funny anymore. As a show, it is trading purely on reputation and nothing else. Ask a Simpsons fan why they watch the show, and they’re likely to say something like, “It’s funny. Well, it used to be.” It’s not The Simpsons’ fault. The Simpsons first aired in December of 1989-do some simple math and you will see that is slightly over 17 years of TV shows. At some point, your pool of good ideas will run dry.
Modern episodes of The Simpsons are lacking in plot. They used to make you fall over with laughter. Springfield buys a faulty monorail, Homer goes back to college, etc. Test this out: next time you watch The Simpsons, ask yourself, “Is this a good plot?” The answer will probably be no. Sure, there might be a few good jokes, but at the end of the episode, you’ll be feeling unfulfilled, and unsatisfied.
They’ve had to resort, heavily, to gimmick episodes, like famous sea stories or famous revenge stories, with the cast as the characters. There are some funny ideas in these sketch episodes, but in the end, the sum of the parts just don’t add up.
One of the only recent episodes that had a really good plot was “The Father, the Son, and the Holy Guest Star,” where Bart gets kicked out of school, ends up going to Catholic school and becoming Catholic. As funny as this episode is, the plot was a direct rip-off of the “Whacking Day” episode.
This trend first started about eight years ago, when the rare occurrence of a poor episode of “The Simpsons” would sneak in with the rest of them. I remember one where Homer became a hippie; I was left feeling very unsatisfied with the episode. All this said, the show was still one of the best on TV. But over time, more bad episodes started to pop up, and eventually there were more sub-par episodes being aired than good ones. It’s now become like watching Willie Mays on his last legs with the New York Mets, hobbling around the outfield, trying to hold on to the greatness he once had.
We all know the greatness is gone, but we can’t help watching, and afterwards we say, “Can you please just retire already?” It’s time to retire “The Simpsons”, so if you still watch it, try to stop, and don’t make this harder than it already is. At least we still have Family Guy.
Olin Meyers is a senior majoring in motion pictures. He may be reached at o.Meyers@umiami.edu