Essay On The Simpsons And Satire

3925 words - 16 pages

Since its debut on the Tracey Ullman show in 1987, the still-running animated comedy, The Simpsons, has been one of the most popular and influential shows on television. According to Merriam-Webster, satire is defined as a literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn. The Simpsons have certainly used a great deal of satire in their decades of being on-air, which has helped them become so popular and successful. By using bold satire, The Simpsons paved the way for other animated shows to become more adult and thought-provoking in shows such as South Park.

The Simpsons set a precedent for the creation of less childish animated shows than their predecessors. Before its premiere in 1986, prime-time television had a limited variety of comedy, instead focusing wholesomely on the nuclear family. There had not been an animated comedy on prime-time TV since The Flintstones almost 20 years prior. (Ortved 2018) Not only was there not a wide variety of comedy on prime-time television but there was also no animated comedy on prime-time television. This was likely due to animation being perceived as for children and thus not popular enough for a prime-time slot. The Simpsons broke the mold by making bolder content and now are the longest-running scripted show, animated or otherwise, on prime-time television (Villeneuve 2019). They showed that animation can be more oriented toward both adults and children. Seth MacFarlane, creator of another very popular satirical animated show in Family Guy argues that The Simpsons were responsible for creating a new genre in prime-time animation. It's like what sci-fi fans say about Star Trek: it created an audience for that genre, says Seth MacFarlane, the creator of Family Guy. I think The Simpsons created an audience for prime-time animation that had not been there for many, many years. As far as I'm concerned, they basically re-invented the wheel. They created what is in many ways you could classify it as a wholly new medium. It's just wholly original. (Ortved 2018) MacFarlane himself is proof of The Simpsons influence, as Family Guy is a similarly adult animated comedy. As MacFarlane said The Simpsons created a new audience for that genre, which Family Guy could not have thrived without. The Simpsons and its satirical comedy helped pave the way for other prime-time and satirical animated shows.

Much of The Simpsons success came directly from its lead writers, such as Conan O'Brien. Even within a staff full of super-geniuses, Conan O'Brien stood out as a bottomless font of creativity and hilarity. On the audio commentary for Marge Vs. The Monorail, the writer-producers talk so extensively and admiringly about O'Brien's genius that it becomes a running joke (Rabin 2018) The writer-producers having such high praise for him on the audio commentary for that episode shows just how influential he was in making The Simpsons so funny and popular. OBrien wrote for Harvards satire publication, ...

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