"The Simpsons" creator Matt Groening, left, poses with Yeardley Smith, center, who provides the voice of Lisa Simpson on the show, and executive producer James L. Brooks at a gala honoring the show by The Paley Center for Media, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2009, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
One of the longest family cartoon sitcoms aired around April 1987. The series was created by cartoonist Matt Groening who bought the absurd family from small screen to the big screen for almost 20 years. The Simpsons made their first television appearance on The Tracey Ullman Show for three seasons until they made their first premier on December 17, 1989. Matt Groening created the dysfunctional family that included Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie. The Simpsons were created to be the politically incorrect family.
Homer who has the IQ of a crayon works for a nuclear power plant, Marge is the super house wife and mom who tries so hard to keep the family on track, mischievous trouble making Bart, clever, peacekeeper Lisa, and pacifier sucking Maggie. Living next door are their goody-too shoes, Christian value neighbors the Flanders. Alongside other characters are Apu the Kwik E-Mart owner, Milhouse, Bart’s best friend, the evil and wealthy Mr. Burns who owns the Springfield nuclear power plant and an inappropriate clown Krusty the Klown. The Simpsons are located in the fictional town of Springfield where a series events happen in this kooky town. Producer James L. Brooks bought the lampoon comedy into American culture, society, and television.
How the Simpson origins all began? It started when James L. Brooks asked Matt Groening to pitch an idea for a series of animated shorts. One idea was called Life in Hell. However, the cartoonist developed another approach of his version of a dysfunctional family. Groening named the characters after his own family members, substituting the name Bart for his own name. When The Simpsons made their first appearance as shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show. Groening submitted the basic drafts of the drawings to the production. But the original character figures were merely retraced. “Groening said his goal in creating the show was to offer the audience an alternative to what he called “the mainstream trash” that they were watching.” says Ken Tucker.
The Simpsons was regarded as Fox’s 30 highest-rated show. However, the show was controversial from its beginning. “In 1992, Tracey Ullman filed a lawsuit against Fox, claiming that her show was the source of the series success. The suit said she should receive a share of the profits of The Simpsons, a claim rejected by the courts” says Frank Spotnitz. The Simpsons made waves on the air waves but their merchandise wouldn’t make it through U.S. public school that would ban t-shirts with the caption “Underachiever (And proud of it, man ).” Even the former President, George H. W. Bush made a statement that, “We’re going to strengthen the American family to make them more like the Waltons and less like The Simpsons.” says Nick Griffiths.
The Simpsons viewership was an average of 13.4 million. In the late 1990’s, Time Magazine called The Simpsons the century’s best television series. Bart Simpson was a popular cartoon icon at the time that was included in the Time 100 as 100 most influential people. On January 14, 2000, The Simpsons were awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In July of 2007, The Simpsons Movie was released and approximately grossed US $526.2 million worldwide. Since the show aired on December 17, 1989, 435 episodes were broadcast and its twentieth season began on September 28, 2008.
1. Griffiths. Nick (2000-04-15). “America’s First Family.” The Times Magazine. Pp. 25, 27-28.
2. Spotnitz, Frank. (1992-10-23). “Eat my shorts!” Entertainment Weekly. p. 8 (1).
3. Tucker, Ken. (1993-03-12). Toon Terrfic. Entertainment Weekly. P. 48 (3).