Blaming the Victim

“The guys who wrote this show don’t know squat.  Itchy should’ve tied Scratchy’s tongue with a taught line hitch, not a sheet bend.” – Bart Simpson
“Oh Bart, cartoons don’t have to be 100% realistic.” – Lisa Simpson

This is a couple of weeks old now, but it’s a good example of a recurring stupidity I see in a lot of commentary about Zombie Simpsons.  In a review of “Wedding for Disaster”, Steve Heisler up at A.V. Club wrote:

How does the show pull off yet another wedding episode? By spending 5-6 minutes on the fact that Reverend Lovejoy had, somehow, nulled his priesthood for the last three months, so everything he officiated didn’t count.
But because the show has to spend a bunch of time explaining why they are allowed to do what they are about to do-presumably to appease message board fans-they’ve wasted time they could be spending on the episode proper.

This is the idea that Simpsons became Zombie Simpsons, at least in part, because the show is now required to contort itself to justify plots and fit stories into an overarching “canon” of Simpsons lore.  It’s bullshit.  The show has never made any sense episode to episode, so long as it was clever, funny and original no one cared. 

The biggest, and funniest, example of this is the inability of Mr. Burns to recall any of his past encounters with the Simpson family, but there are numerous others.  “Kamp Krusty” (Season 4), “Bart of Darkness” (Season 6) and “The Summer of 4 Ft. 2” (Season 7) all take place at the beginning of the kids summer vacation, but none of them contain any exposition or explanation as to how that’s possible.  The television breaks in Season 2’s “The Way We Was” and doesn’t get fixed; but the very next episode, “Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment”, is all about them watching television after they get cable.  Of course, that episode ends with them disconnecting the cable, but just one season later in “Burns Verkaufen der Kraftwerk” they watch the “financial channel”.  The house practically burns down in “Homer the Heretic”, they never explain how the Simpsons get a new car after the truck is repossessed in “Mr. Plow”, and the second to last scene in “Homer’s Barbershop Quartet” is basically an admission that none of it fits in with the rest of the show.  I could go on, but you get the idea.

The creators didn’t spend the first segment of “Wedding for Disaster” with useless back story and an implausible explanation as to why Homer and Marge needed to get married again to “appease message board fans”.  They did it to eat up screen time because none of the weak story lines they had (Lovejoy not being a minister/feeling inadequate next to his old friend, Marge going nuts over her dream wedding, or Selma kidnapping Homer a la Jigsaw from the Saw movies) could even hope to fill an entire episode. 

The Simpsons isn’t some serial drama or mystery show where every little plot point has to fit or the whole thing falls apart.  It’s a comedy and the only requirement is to be funny.  Wacky situations are not and never have been a problem with fans; hell, Season 1 had Bart going to France and an Albanian spy moving into the house.  Weak, unimaginative storytelling and slapdash humor are the culprits and the blame for that is squarely on the people who create the show, not the fans.


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