"The Simpsons" by the data
November 2, 2016 10:52 AM   Subscribe

The Simpsons by the Data: Analysis of 27 seasons of Simpsons data reveals the show’s most significant side characters, a pattern of patriarchy, declining TV ratings, and more.
posted by Room 641-A (63 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
Finally, science proves the decline after Season 10!
posted by chavenet at 10:56 AM on November 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


Season 10?
posted by MoonOrb at 11:04 AM on November 2, 2016 [11 favorites]


TV audiences in general have declined since the invention of the internet? Water is wet, too.
posted by Melismata at 11:04 AM on November 2, 2016


Finally, science proves the decline after Season 10!

There's an interesting graph over at r/dataisbeautiful providing further evidence, though showing a drop-off at the correct Season 8.
posted by Sangermaine at 11:11 AM on November 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


TV audiences in general have declined since the invention of the internet? Water is wet, too.

Nope, the article accounts for this:
When The Simpsons came out in 1989, the highest 30 rated shows on TV averaged a 17.7 Nielsen rating, meaning that 17.7% of television-equipped households tuned in to the average top 30 show. In 2014–15, the highest 30 rated shows managed an 8.7 average rating, a decline of 50% over that 25 year span.
But:
We could normalize Simpsons episode ratings by the declining top 30 curve to adjust for the fact that it’s more difficult for any one show to capture as large a share of the TV audience over time. But as mentioned earlier, the normalization would only account for about a 50% decline in ratings since 1989, while The Simpsons ratings have declined more like 80-85% over that horizon.
The general decline in TV viewership for any show isn't enough to explain the total drop in Simpsons viewership over the years.
posted by Sangermaine at 11:18 AM on November 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


This is pretty cool. Especially the TV ratings by episode, which allows you to hover over any data-point on the graph and see the data for that particular episode. The season two premiere is the show's highest rated episode ever (33.6 million viewers!) which makes sense, as the hiatus after the first season (ergo: re-runs) was when the show really exploded into a national pop culture phenomenon. (Season four's "Last Exit to Springfield" scored a whopping 22.4 million viewers, meaning that if you were to walk up to a random person on the street and say "Lisa needs braces" there's a good chance that person will respond "Dental Plan!")
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:21 AM on November 2, 2016 [7 favorites]


an interesting graph

Wow, Treehouse XXII really does sound like a garbage dump.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:21 AM on November 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


What about the increase in interesting shows to divert attention away from shows like the Simpsons?
posted by ian1977 at 11:22 AM on November 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


The first real miss (post season 1, which is in many respects practically a different show) is IMO S8E1, The City of New York vs Homer Simpson. It kicks off a season of wildly varying quality- on the one hand, "The Joy of Sect" is one of the all-time greatest episodes of the series, and on the other hand, "Simpson Tide" and the worst Treehouse of Horror to that point.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:22 AM on November 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


The general decline in TV viewership for any show isn't enough to explain the total drop in Simpsons viewership over the years.

Ah, good to know. I wonder what it is then; perhaps the fact that they, oh, ran out of ideas after season 7/10??

Jinx, ian1977!
posted by Melismata at 11:23 AM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


Alvy Ampersand: "an interesting graph

Wow, Treehouse XXII really does sound like a garbage dump.
"

When Lisa reads for him, she discovers that he can communicate through farting.


Now I have to know if Homer's farting is included in the count of his dialogue.
posted by chavenet at 11:25 AM on November 2, 2016


The Simpsons could use some new writers and not just more women. The whole Homer is an idiot thing is way overdone and the unnecessary celebrity cameo has lost its power to surprise. I'm not suggesting a reboot, but if it works...
posted by tommasz at 11:27 AM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


Lisa needs braces.
posted by hwyengr at 11:33 AM on November 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


Dental plan...

I hate you all
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:37 AM on November 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


Ah, good to know. I wonder what it is then; perhaps the fact that they, oh, ran out of ideas after season 7/10??

Jinx, ian1977!


More accurately: Jinx, entire Internet!
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:41 AM on November 2, 2016


The first real miss (post season 1, which is in many respects practically a different show) is IMO S8E1, The City of New York vs Homer Simpson.

The C.H.U.D.s, the Khlav Kalash Guy, and I would have words with thee.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:45 AM on November 2, 2016 [7 favorites]


My big theory about The Simpsons is that after season 10 they should have ended the show and made a spinoff called Springfield. They could have used it to tell stories about the town and its citizens without shoehorning in the central family via contrivance, and people would rightly view it as a fresh start and something different from its parent series. There have been good episodes in the intervening decade, but the show has squandered its goodwill and brand name so extensively that they get lost in the shuffle.
posted by zeusianfog at 11:47 AM on November 2, 2016 [30 favorites]


The C.H.U.D.s, the Khlav Kalash Guy, and I would have words with thee.


Yeah. Seriously. Whenever I realize a story I'm telling is kind of boring I end with "and that's when the CHUDs came at me."
posted by The Man from Lardfork at 11:56 AM on November 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


The C.H.U.D.s, the Khlav Kalash Guy, and I would have words with thee.

It's not entirely without laughs ("I want to go to rehab when I grow up!" "Well you'd better start saving right now, it's very expensive."), but overall it has a setup instead of a plot, the characterizations are lacking, and it's just a bunch of jokes strung together and hung on the characters. Which, incidentally, is what Zombie Simpsons is.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:06 PM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


They could have used it to tell stories about the town and its citizens without shoehorning in the central family via contrivance

Obligatory The Simpsons did it. (And again, sort of.)

But that would have been a fun idea. Ideally after the infamous Homer's Enemy episode of the 8th season, a perfect point to close off the Simpson family's story and open up to the wider world represented by the introduction of Frank Grimes.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:07 PM on November 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


With regard to the number of words spoken, I'm rather surprised that Marge had more words than Bart, and that Homer had more than double that of the rest of the family.
Regarding the supporting cast, I can't belive that Lenny and Carl had more words than Barney, and other denizens that had much more character development.
Also, Herb Simpson had more words than Ranier Wolfcastle, Judge Snyder, Miss Hoover and the Captain?

I love the "most-relevant phrases" part. You get a few misses, but for many of them, I can easily visualize the scenes in which the phrases were said!
posted by bitteroldman at 12:10 PM on November 2, 2016


they should have ended the show and made a spinoff called Springfield

There was an episode of golden age Simpsons based around that, and while looking for the name, I found this:

The episode sparked the idea amongst the staff for a spin-off series entitled Springfield Stories or simply Springfield. The proposed show would focus on the town in general, rather than the Simpson family. Every week would be a different scenario, such as three short stories, an adventure with young Homer, or a story about a background character that was not tied into the Simpson family at all. The idea never resulted in anything, as Groening realized that the staff did not have the manpower to produce another show as well as The Simpsons. The staff maintains that it is something that they would still be interested in doing, and that it "could happen someday." "22 Short Films About Springfield" also helped inspire the Futurama episode "Three Hundred Big Boys".

Considering how the show has turned evolved into "The Simpsons meet someone famous" or "Homer does something stupid", the best thing the show has is a lot of background characters with varying levels of establishment over 25 years, and exploiting that richness would be the best way to go forward. Simpsons are just another "Dumb dad, patient mother, rebellious son, precocious daughter, baby prop" show.
posted by lmfsilva at 12:11 PM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


deally after the infamous Homer's Enemy episode of the 8th season

Homer's Enemy is one of the greatest episodes and I doubt its haters' commitment to Mr. Sparkle.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:19 PM on November 2, 2016 [7 favorites]


Also as long as we're here, I'd like to drop a plug for Laser Time's Talking Simpsons, a group of nerds who are going episode by episode and discussing plots, characters, references, and what it all means. I listen to a handful of podcasts, and this one I'll interrupt pretty much any other media consumption to listen to the latest episode ASAP. The newest one, which is making me look forward to the drive home this evening, is Mr. Plow.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:23 PM on November 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


Also on the podcast tip, Everything's Coming Up Podcast gets great guests from the show's staff and elsewhere to talk about and analyze their favorite episodes.
posted by zeusianfog at 12:25 PM on November 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


This gendered dialog data is really great work. Thanks for posting.
posted by latkes at 12:30 PM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


I don't think The Simpsons needs rescuing or resurrecting. I don't even have a problem with the state the show is in now. It made a massive impact in Nineties pop culture, changed what was possible in western animation, and left behind many, many still-great episodes. Nothing that's happened since changes that. I don't particularly care if the show is bad now. I'm not watching it; it doesn't owe me anything.

The only people I feel bad for are the ones still involved in the show's production, particularly the voice actors who are basically shackled to it. But at least they're being paid.
posted by qntm at 12:32 PM on November 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


The dialog charts are a nice illustration of Zipf's law in action.
posted by Jpfed at 12:39 PM on November 2, 2016


Season 10?

In defense of season 10, it does contain a few classic episodes. Not many, but some. Apu's quintuplets were born, Maude died, Ron Howard came to town, etc. These are all, of course, the unmistakable symptoms of a once-great series scrambling for a handhold in mid-plummet, but still, some solid episodes.

But, while it was the last season to contain any classic episodes, it was the first to contain any really egregiously awful ones. The Simpsons had gone to mediocrity before, but never the full hot garbage of season 10. And the low quality is in such high quantities! The bad episodes outnumber and outweigh and overpower the good ones by a significant margin. I own seasons 1-9 on DVD, and every so often I consider buying season 10, only to check the wikipedia page of the episodes and remind myself that there are only five of the twenty-three that I don't wish eternal hellfire upon.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:43 PM on November 2, 2016


classic episodes...Ron Howard came to town

Pistols at dawn.
posted by MoonOrb at 1:01 PM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


*shrug*

I do really wish The Simpsons had called it quits after nine years, though. It's very much a nineties show, just like Seinfeld ('89-'98) or Murphy Brown ('88-'98) or Married...With Children ('87-97) or Roseanne ('88-'97). There were a whole host of suitable replacements, from King of the Hill to South Park to Family Guy -- not to mention Futurama! If we still needed The Simpsons in the '00s, we could get it in reruns. So there's this creaky staleness and double-redundancy about the whole enterprise, even without going into the steep decline in quality, that's like...Why is this still on? It's just sad more than anything.

If we're requesting podcasts, btw, Worst Episode Ever is pretty great. The best part is when they go into presicely why each episode is terrible and what super basic Writing 101 things could have been done to make it less terrible.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:20 PM on November 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


requesting recommending

wookiee=bent
posted by Sys Rq at 1:31 PM on November 2, 2016


I haven't watched the Simpsons since Season 3 (wow, well over two decades ago!), so I don't know a lot of episodes. Every year, I'll see a mention floating around in passing online, and I end up asking myself, This is STILL on the air? How? Who is still watching this?

The only thing I can say I would've missed if they'd cancelled years ago is the fantastic existential opening couch gag for the 26th season premiere by Don Hertzfeldt.
posted by droplet at 1:32 PM on November 2, 2016 [2 favorites]



classic episodes...Ron Howard came to town

Pistols at dawn.


I'm not saying "When You Dish Upon A Star" is a great Simpsons episode, but it's one of my favorites. "Oh...there's that script I wrote!" "Where'd you get that muffin? Gersh Agency." Lots of great lines, and Ron Howard's was a good cameo.
posted by rhizome at 1:58 PM on November 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


ran out of ideas
So it was wrong of me to have no fears? They didn't have stories for years?
posted by roystgnr at 2:04 PM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


I do really wish The Simpsons had called it quits after nine years, though. It's very much a nineties show, just like Seinfeld ('89-'98) or Murphy Brown ('88-'98) or Married...With Children ('87-97) or Roseanne ('88-'97).

Yeah, this.

I tuned into a current Simpsons episode this year (my first since Season 10) and it was just weird and WRONG to see Homer and everyone else using iPhones and iPads.
posted by entropicamericana at 2:21 PM on November 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


Simpsons are just another "Dumb dad, patient mother, rebellious son, precocious daughter, baby prop" show.

Every other show is just another "dumb dad" etc. show. They all ripped off The Simpsons. That's never really acknowledged (because The Simpsons is "just a cartoon") but everyone knows it's true.
posted by blucevalo at 2:55 PM on November 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


"Oh...there's that script I wrote!" "Where'd you get that muffin? Gersh Agency."

It's funny 'cause it's true!
posted by Room 641-A at 3:34 PM on November 2, 2016


There were a whole host of suitable replacements, from King of the Hill to South Park to Family Guy -- not to mention Futurama

Family Guy was/is a "replacement" for (classic era) Simpsons in much the same way that Big Bang Theory is a "replacement" for Community
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:03 PM on November 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


Apu's quintuplets were born

octuplets
posted by palindromic at 7:06 PM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


Quiet, you.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:58 PM on November 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


Family Guy was/is a "replacement" for (classic era) Simpsons in much the same way that Big Bang Theory is a "replacement" for Community

The point is that there were a lot of them. Pick one you like.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:08 PM on November 2, 2016


There were a whole host of suitable replacements, from King of the Hill to South Park to Family Guy

Family Guy is too offensive and not smart enough to replace Simpsons; King of the Hill, yes! that was a great show. And now you have Bob's Burgers. But occasionally I'll watch the Simpsons. I don't think it's horrible; just not as great as it once was.
posted by GospelofWesleyWillis at 11:09 PM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


Every so often I'll notice it's still on the air and download a new episode to watch (new episodes are on pay-TV here, so sue me). I've not bothered for a year or so, because it seems to just follow the same formula - random B-list celebrity turns up in town on the most specious pretext, everyone gets excited because they're in town, celebrity does stuff and then buggers off never to be seen again.

It used to be a great show and it had some classic lines, but honestly these days it feels like they're just going through the motions because it's what they've been doing for thirty years and they can't think of anything else to do. It doesn't seem snarky any more, which is a shame. Something has changed with the animation over the years too - it feels more computer-generated and soulless than it did, which is probably a product of having to churn out so much of the stuff on a limited budget.

Family Guy and American Dad were on the air here for a while (I think they've been moved to pay-TV too, since they got rid of BBC3) but they always seemed a bit over-reliant on gross humour and they were too bloody.
posted by winterhill at 3:54 AM on November 3, 2016


The episode where I first consciously, reluctantly realized "this is funny, but not really firing on all cylinders anymore" was S9E24 (Lost Our Lisa, where she takes the bus to the Museum by herself.) Reading through episode synopses, it appears I stopped watching religiously somewhere during season 10 and bailed for good after season 12. It's weird to have lived through The Simpsons going from controversial source of moral panic to bland cultural institution.
posted by usonian at 4:24 AM on November 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


Happily, we still have Monster Factory and the McElroy brothers' ability to make just a perfect Bart Simpson
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:26 AM on November 3, 2016


Since FX has been showing Simpsons re-runs for the last year or two, my rule of thumb is to skip anything aired in the year 2000+. This has served me well.
posted by LizBoBiz at 5:40 AM on November 3, 2016


"Never trust an episode of the Simpsons that isn't 4:3"
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:16 AM on November 3, 2016 [4 favorites]


I was initially skeptical of Bob's Burgers, but it won me over very quickly and now it's probably my second-favorite show behind The Venture Brothers. There's a warmth between the family members, even when their divergent personalities are clashing, that reminds me very much of the classic Simpsons dynamic.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:20 AM on November 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's cool to riff on the Simpsons generally, but I'm curious if others have thoughts about the gender balance of the spoken lines in the Simpsons.
posted by latkes at 9:04 AM on November 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


But I'm curious if others have thoughts about the gender balance of the spoken lines in the Simpsons.

I do. I have several friends who are MRA/MGTOW/TRP cum conspiracy theory types. One classic bit they like trotting out is how Homer is a bad role model for young boys and completely undermines their self-confidence, etc. The fact that male characters completely dominate the show is, of course, ignored. And if you look more critically, you can see that that it's only the male characters who get to be really odd or interesting. The female characters are all pretty straight. So yeah, Homer's a "bumbling idiot" but at least the actor doing him gets to do fun, inventive, and cool things other than moan (Marge) or say something smart (Lisa). And then Bart, Burns'n'Smithers and so on down the list: male characters dominate, are the most interesting, the most oddball, and the funniest. In the end men matter most in the Simpsons universe and any impressionable young boy watching the show would have to conclude that it doesn't matter who or what he is the fact that he's a male means he matters more than anyone else and gets to do all the cool and weird things he wants while women have to conform to very narrow roles.

But like I said, these friends seem to ignore that really important point.

It's cool to riff on the Simpsons generally

I still watch every episode of the Simpsons. Yeah, I don't laugh as much and the satire has lost all sting, but there are still funny moments and really smart bits here and there. And honestly it's the really smart bits that matter most to me.

What I don't understand is the idea that it should have gone off the air? People still have the episodes they like and I don't see how those can be ruined by the ones they don't like. But maybe? I never really bought the 'quit while you're on top' idea, so maybe that's it. I mean Michael Jordan's legacy is sealed and it doesn't matter that he played another season with, what was it, Washington?
posted by bfootdav at 10:19 AM on November 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


My take on the gender imbalance aspect is that it is one of several significant legitimate criticisms of the show, and it is still possible for me to enjoy and appreciate the show even as I recognize and appreciate the criticisms. It is a white-centric, male-centric show with many ingrained, conservative family values, and the fact that, say, Lisa is a great character doesn't make the show super progressive or anything.
posted by MoonOrb at 10:46 AM on November 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


The gender imbalance is nothing compared to the racial imbalance. (Which isn't to say that it's nothing, full stop. It's something, for sure.)

So yeah, Homer's a "bumbling idiot" but at least the actor doing him gets to do fun, inventive, and cool things other than moan (Marge) or say something smart (Lisa).

That's an interesting point about the female characters (though I would point to Patti & Selma, Agnes Skinner, Crazy Cat Lady, and others as clear exceptions), but it doesn't really hold up about the voice actors; literally all the children (of whom many are boys) are voiced by women, and they're not un-fun.

One thing that I have noticed about the female characters, though, is that, somewhere towards the end of the classic era, the animators just plain stopped designing them. Every woman on The Simpsons since then has been stamped out from the same pretty/skinny cookiecutter. It's fairly indicative of the laziness and lack of creativity of Zombie Simpsons.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:06 AM on November 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


What I don't understand is the idea that it should have gone off the air? People still have the episodes they like and I don't see how those can be ruined by the ones they don't like. But maybe? I never really bought the 'quit while you're on top' idea, so maybe that's it. I mean Michael Jordan's legacy is sealed and it doesn't matter that he played another season with, what was it, Washington?
bfootdav

It's more seeing something that was unbelievably great, arguably the best ever in its field, decline into bland mediocrity. Maybe it's an age thing, and I'm not sure how old you are, but if you weren't around when the golden years were on the air it's hard to describe how big the show was and how amazing it was week after week. To see this icon become what it is now is just sad.

It's like if after a beloved composer finished his last renowned symphony he spent the rest of his life doing Kidz Bop covers. Sure you still have his symphonies but you just shake your head.
posted by Sangermaine at 11:18 AM on November 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


Also the timeslot could be used for something new and innovative and funny instead of... that.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:28 AM on November 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


There were a whole host of suitable replacements, from King of the Hill to South Park to Family Guy -- not to mention Futurama!
...The point is that there were a lot of them. Pick one you like.
Sys Rq

No, the problem with this is that most of these shows aren't replacements for The Simpsons because they are different kinds of shows and aren't very similar beyond all being animated.

King of the Hill was a very character-driven show with relatively few gags, where the humor came from the nature of the characters and how they interacted with each other and the situations they were in. It's a quieter kind of humor and it's why, I think, it never became as popular as it should have been because it's not really laugh out loud funny. South Park is on the other end of the spectrum: maximum gags and craziness from day one.

Classic-era Simpsons is kind of a midpoint between the two, grounded and people-focused but with a good dose of gags. Futurama leans more heavily towards the zaniness end. The Simpsons itself goes in that direction after the classic era.

Family Guy is the one that most closely tries to do what The Simpsons did, but for the reasons given by others above it fails.
posted by Sangermaine at 11:29 AM on November 3, 2016


I've started watching The Simpsons regularly again after maybe watching an episode every couple of years for a decade and a half. I still remember how electrifying it was when it first appeared and remained throughout my adolescence and teens. And while, yes, there's nothing to touch the first 7-14 seasons (I've heard it argued that the definite cut off point is the retirement of John Swartzwelder in season 14 and I have some sympathy for that) there are still some fine episodes from later years. It's not transcendent, but it's still quality television. That said, I'm not sure I'd miss it if it went away.

The male-centredness of it is a lot more apparent for me nowadays. For instance, it's just bizarre to me that in umpteen seasons the showrunners never thought of creating recurring friends for Lisa and Marge. There's something really bizarre about their friendlessness, especially when compared to Bart and Homer.
posted by Kattullus at 3:04 PM on November 3, 2016 [4 favorites]


When reflecting on the toothlessness of modern Simpsons ("Zombie Simpsons," if you prefer), it's worth reflecting on the fact that the comic strips Blondie and Peanuts were also sharply pointed in their early years, though perhaps not at the center of an actual Eighties-Style Moral Panic.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: The Simpsons has done the equivalent of a Rolling Stones song going on to be used to promote an operating system, but at least The Rolling Stones didn't do it by choice.
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:48 PM on November 3, 2016


Re The Simpsons vs King of the Hill, a lot of KOTH folks came over from The Simpsons. Season 10 of the Simpsons started in 1998, season one of KOTH started in 1997. It's not a coincidence that the heart of The Simpsons was never the same.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:54 PM on November 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's more seeing something that was unbelievably great, arguably the best ever in its field, decline into bland mediocrity. Maybe it's an age thing, and I'm not sure how old you are, but if you weren't around when the golden years were on the air it's hard to describe how big the show was and how amazing it was week after week. To see this icon become what it is now is just sad.

I was 20 when the Simpsons first aired and it was the most amazing thing to watch. The one college friend who somehow realized that he needed to record all the episodes on VHS and save them was catapulted into instant god-like status because of this.

So yeah, I get how deeply important the show was. In my Grand Theory of TV, I credit the Simpsons, Twin Peaks and Northern Exposure for directly creating this Golden Age of television that we are living through the tail-end of.

There is no other TV show that I give as much respect to. But I still don't get the latter day hate. But like I said, I don't get it when applied to anyone or anything else in any other domain. We had their great years and so what if there are bad years? Like I said, I just don't get it.

It's like if after a beloved composer finished his last renowned symphony he spent the rest of his life doing Kidz Bop covers. Sure you still have his symphonies but you just shake your head.

Yeah, but we still have the good pieces. I just can't get past that part to see how the latter stuff affects the earlier. It's some kind of time reversal thing. Or something. Anyway, no bigs, I just don't get it.
posted by bfootdav at 8:04 PM on November 3, 2016


That's an interesting point about the female characters (though I would point to Patti & Selma, Agnes Skinner, Crazy Cat Lady, and others as clear exceptions), but it doesn't really hold up about the voice actors; literally all the children (of whom many are boys) are voiced by women, and they're not un-fun.

Yeah, that's a good point but one that most viewers wouldn't know. Instead they see male characters and what they assume are male actors getting to do all the good stuff. And of course it's still male characters that get to be wacky and interesting.

(though I would point to Patti & Selma, Agnes Skinner, Crazy Cat Lady, and others as clear exceptions)

Sure. I thought of adding that disclaimer but as the fpp indicated they get a really small amount of lines. Yeah, they are thrown some bones but it ain't nothing to write home about. It's still a very male-centric show and any "negative" image impressionable male viewers might get from Homer should be overwhelmed by all the cool messages they get about maleness and males in acting (even if Bart is a woman, etc).
posted by bfootdav at 8:09 PM on November 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


I just can't get past that part to see how the latter stuff affects the earlier.

I don't think anyone is saying that here though (but feel free to point out if I've misread the thread). I see alot of people talking about how it used to be the best thing ever and now it's not. The classics are still great but people are choosing to not watch the newer ones. The fact that the Simpsons is not funny to me at all now does not mean I dont happily watch re-runs of the earlier seasons when they pop up on tv.
posted by LizBoBiz at 6:38 AM on November 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


I saw a recent episode that I really liked yesterday. It's called Puffless and it's about Patty and Selma quitting smoking and the b-story is a charming little tale about Maggie befriending forest animals (I googled, reviews online are mixed, but I really liked it, so there). One thing I realized watching it is that most of the recent episodes I've seen that I've really liked have been focused on female characters. I think it's because there haven't been as many stories told about them through the years so there's more room to move for the writers.
posted by Kattullus at 1:27 PM on November 8, 2016


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