It's rare that I post such bold criticisms as I'm about to do, but
been itching to voice my opinion on this matter for a number of years,
and only after viewing latest Simpsons' season do I feel it's time I
finally spoke up.
I should begin by mentioning I'm an enormous fan of Matt Groening
and his type of humour, from his Life in Hell comic strip to The
Simpsons animated television series. I've always found what Matt has
done so refreshing compared to other types of humour in print and on
TV, his ability to look at everyday society, what we consider the
norm, and see the ridiculousness of it all. I love his sarcastic
negativity, poking fun at how absurd and disfunctional things like
society in general, work, religion, going to school and growing up can
be like--or the mental anguish such things cause us but we're
conditioned to just accept and not question. I suppose I enjoy his
mocking these subjects without having to even exaggerate them, just
looking at the absurdity they hold on their own and exploiting that.
The Simpsons was about all that, and what made it more special was
it seemed to be a custom type of humour aimed at a specific crowd. I
found it speaking out to those above average, the intelligent, people
who found themselves not fitting in with the mediocre. Those who
question our way of everyday life, pausing to step back and question
it. Interestingly, I found in the past those who _didn't_ see the
humour in the show, those who considered it "boring" and lacked
humour, were the people the show targeted to mock--the average, the
mediocre, the person who thinks the important things in life are
status, money and work. Ironically, the show has gone 180 degrees and
now caters to the very people it mocked. Why this happened has I'm not
sure, perhaps to appeal to a wider audience, but I think a quote from
Lisa in season 2 best sums it up: "you'll never fail by appealing to
the lowest common denominator."
I think what made the show so appealing was its intelligent and
sarcastic humour. The people and stories it followed portrayed
*realism*, not the glossed over, artificial kind of family in shows
like The Cosby Show in the 80's. I could draw parallels between the
Simpsons family and my own quite often, I could relate the to
characters and the humour. The show existed through subtle humour,
ironies, mostly through *DIALOG*. It was aimed at adults, despite
being a cartoon. I suppose what I'm saying is it was a humour only
certain people could appreciate and relate to, unlike so many mindless
sitcoms out there.
In the past an episode plot would center around the Simpsons'
going for family therapy, Lisa's plight, as gifted 8 year old, going
through a school system designed to educate below-average/average
children, Homer questioning the merits of religion and going to
church, or many stories about having his individuality and self-esteem
slowly crushed at work. Fast forward to today and we have stories
about Homer eating radioactive plutonium like candy or jumping off
skyscrapers and bouncing back on his feet, Marge racing around in a
monster truck, Bart driving a tank through Springfield, Lisa in the
military. They've reduced them into simple one dimensional cartoon
characters. I almost expect birds and stars to circle around Homer's
head next time he bumps into something, which probably isn't far off.
Speaking of characters, the writers have lost sight of them. They've
all been made uninteresting cartoon character side kicks next to
Homer--even Lisa has turned from genius to ordinary person, who
occasionally makes witty comments. As for Homer, it appears the
writers decided it would be comical to turn him mildly retarded and
star this as the core of the show's entertainment. It's like every
episode is now a Halloween special, each is completely detached from
reality and lacks any consequence. Is this The Simpsons with
intelligent adult humour, or is this a zany-wanna-be Saturday morning
cartoon for kids?
In conclusion I feel as if The Simpsons went off the air several
years ago and is no more. There exists a show that goes by the same
name, has same characters, same voice actors and claims to be "The
Simpsons", but clearly is not. Some will suggest if I feel this way I
shouldn't watch it, but considering how incredibly great the show once
was, I feel almost obligated to keep watching. Unfortunately as the
seasons have gone by, I've gone from laughing out loud, to chuckling,
to the occasionally smirk to now just sitting there with a blank look
on my face as I watch. It's all about visual gags and cartoon humour
now, and sadly, it's rare they even do that well.
Okay, well I've gotten that off my chest. I apologize if I've
offended any die-hard fans out there, and your certainly entitled to
disagree with what I've said, but it's almost impossible to deny that
the show has gone in a very different direction from what it once was.
I still remain a huge Simpsons fan, just of the original series and
not what it's become of as of currently.