When naming the most revolutionary television programs of the past twenty, thirty, or even fifty years, one of the names that is bound to come up is The Simpsons. Starting as a recurring segment on The Tracy Ullman Show before premiering as its own series in 1989, the Fox animated sitcom has been heralded for its clever writing, witty humor, and memorable characters. Critics and fans to this day still regard it as one of the best shows ever to be broadcast. Due to its continued success, The Simpsons has been able to keep airing for a longer period of time than any other situational comedy or animated program in the history of the small screen. In fact, this Sunday, the show completed a feat that almost no other shows have done before, by making its six hundredth episode. The only other primetime scripted series to reach that landmark was the classic Western program, Gunsmoke, which ran ended its twenty year run in 1975 with a total of six hundred thirty-five episodes. Very few series are able to reach even one hundred, but if any show could make it this far, it would be The Simpsons.
For over two and a half decades, The Simpsons have been a staple of popular culture. At the height of its popularity, you could turn any street corner, and find Simpsons imagery on everything, from cereal to socks to pens to poker cards, and so on. As an icon of televised entertainment, it has been an inspiration for so many animators and writers since its debut. Furthermore, the show’s effect on comedic television is undeniable. In fact, South Park – another animated program that is considered to be one of The Simpsons’ contemporaries – created an episode entitled “Simpsons Already Did It,” which points out how many premises from the Fox show has been reimagined by other television writers. The impact that this show has made is so wide that it has entered the public lexicon, being the source of words that made their way into dictionaries, like “cromulent,” “meh,” and of course, Homer’s world-famous catchphrase, “d’oh.” With the colossal effect that The Simpsons has had on the world, there are few – if any – other shows worthy of reaching this utterly impressive landmark.
Creator Matt Groening modeled the now-iconic title family after his own experiences growing up. Because of the show’s rise to fame, Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie became America’s family, going down in television history as cartoon legends. At least that was how it was for a while. As one might expect of a show in its twenty-eighth season, more recent episodes of The Simpsons seem to have lost their luster. Scores of people who once loved the show have since stopped following it, believing that it has gotten stale over the years. Even though The Simpsons continues to be beloved by millions, there has been an outcry for it to be cancelled, as to preserve the legacy of its former glory. While making it to six hundred episodes is a truly remarkable accomplishment, fans of the show feel that the number is way too high, and may have to stop soon before the boring material of today begins to overshadow the brilliant work that it had in its heyday.