As It Was, As It Is

“I see an Eastern university in the year 2010, the world has become a very different place . . .” – Renaissance Faire Fortune Teller

Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way first: I love this episode.  I’ve seen it more times than I can count and I never fail to laugh my ass off.  It was first broadcast in 1995 and it foretold the world in 2010, which is now here.  So let’s take a look at how things actually turned out.  I don’t think the writers were trying to predict 2010; I just think it’s kinda fun to compare.


– Here in the future we still have no holographic trees.

2010a– I’m sure there are soy snacks in vending machines (albeit probably not labeled with the words “gag suppressant”) and those machines definitely take cards.  







– Sadly, we have no robot librarians2010b.








2010c– Going down his IMDB page, it would appear that Jim Carrey has only starred in about twenty movies (been in a lot more, but actually starred in only about twenty). Though they only ended up making two Ace Ventura movies, not six.



-  To my knowledge, no universities have dormitories named after Dr. & Mrs. Dre.

2010q – The Rolling Stones may indeed be touring in 2010 but it seems unlikely they’ll title all it the “Steel Wheelchair” tour (though that would be awesome).





2010d– Also, on the floor of Lisa’s dorm room is a tablet that looks kinda like a Kindle.




– Sadly, planes still do not have lots of wings.

– Doubly sad, Big Ben is still analog.

2010e – Not a lot of wristwatch type communicators, but lots of devices that do similar things.









2010f – In addition to no robot librarians, no robot English country servants.






2010g – Picture phones exist, but aren’t what you’d call common yet for the exact reason that Marge displays.  Because really, who wants to be seen?






2010h– Still not a lot of robots in nuclear power plants.







2010i – Houses in America have indeed gotten much bigger and fancier, and satellite dishes (albeit smaller ones) are common.






2010j – Look at this car and tell me it doesn’t look like one of the new model VW Beetles.

– The Simpsons still have only one phone line, though if teenaged Maggie wanted to talk with her friends she probably wouldn’t be using the house phone anyway.

– It’s also worth pointing out that the date of Lisa’s wedding is August 1st, 2010 which they correctly note is a Sunday.

2010k – We still can’t reanimate frozen corpses.







2010l – On-line video classrooms are a reality, but mostly not at the elementary school level. Although companies like Pepsi do indeed have their logo feces jammed into a lot of schools.

– I don’t think many schools have sliding Star Trek doors though.




2010m – Cars still don’t make that Jetsons noise, but screens that can play video are common enough (albeit generally not used for communication).




2010n – Moe’s has 1500 channel cable coming through a giant pipe into a tiny television.  Here in the real future the cables haven’t gotten bigger but the televisions have. 

– There hasn’t been a World War III for us to be saved in yet, though the British were nice enough to share the embarrassing stupidity of going to war in Iraq, so, partial credit.


2010o – People don’t play virtual darts or virtual pool in bars, though video games are very common.

– While FOX has not turned into a hardcore sex channel the amount of skin and raunch you can get away with is indeed much greater than it was in 1995.

– Do they still have pornographic magazine warehouses? Probably not.

2010p – I don’t think there are Frink-heads swimming around the rivers, but you’d be hard pressed to say that water quality isn’t worse than it used to be.






It’s weird as fuck to be living in the future, but even after all these years that’s still a great episode.

14 Responses to “As It Was, As It Is”

  1. 1 January 2010 at 9:39 pm

    I know I’m bringing down the mood here, but I’m sure one day there will be a Zombie Simpsons episode which reveals that Homer and Marge originally married in the year 2010.

    • 2 Celia
      2 January 2010 at 7:13 am

      I like to think the voice actors will have said “I’m too old for this shit” – in the manner of the old cop in one of those movies with an old cop and a young cop – by 2020. In fact, I suspect Harry Shearer is saying that now.

  2. 3 January 2010 at 8:41 pm

    Harry Shearer seems to be the most outspoken castmember – actually, would I be right in thinking that he’s the only Simpsons regular castmember to admit to the show’s decline in quality? Although his principles would be more sound if he turned down the cash and actually quit the show…

    Re: Charlie’s comment that “after all these years that’s still a great episode,” that’s true, but unfortunately I can’t think of this episode without being reminded of the inferior future-set episodes that came after it. Thanks a lot, Zombie Simpsons!

  3. 4 Charlie Sweatpants
    3 January 2010 at 9:20 pm

    To my knowledge Shearer is the only one of the Big Six cast members who’s ever publicly said the show has declined. Because of that he gets asked about it all the time but he usually demurs or just says “no comment”. He’s got a keen enough comedy mind that I don’t think he’s under any illusions that it’s as good as it once was, but I also don’t think he likes getting asked about it. I’m sure it’s not a popular opinion around the show.

    And as much as I want to see Zombie Simpsons finally end I don’t have any problem with the cast members taking the money. They’ve been there since the beginning and they deserve to take every penny they can out of it. Besides, it’s not their fault the show went to hell.

    • 5 Celia
      4 January 2010 at 8:11 am

      Well, Dan Castellaneta did co-write four episodes according to Wikipedia, so he can shoulder a tiny amount of the blame (If you hate sober Barney, that’s one of his ideas). He’s also produced some, I think.


      But Harry Shearer has apparently neither produced or written any Simpsons. So I wouldn’t bitch at him (though I do have the usual poor person’s reaction to someone who is paid a huge amount already wanting more, but that’s my problem). I think someone said that each of the voice actors was paid more per episode than President Bush made in a year, which shows respectable priorities.

  4. 4 January 2010 at 5:21 pm

    The disgruntled comments Shearer made (http://www.snpp.com/other/interviews/shearer04.html) were in August 2004.

    Dan Castellaneta’s response to Shearer:

    “In a nutshell, I don’t agree…Instead of just being in the Simpson’s world, it’s expanded out to Springfield…I think Harry’s issue is that the show isn’t as grounded as it was in the first three or four seasons, that it’s gotten crazy or a little more madcap. I think it organically changes to stay fresh..I believe the show still breaks the mold in terms of storytelling.”

    Al Jean’s rather more personal response:

    “I am responding to recent comments by Harry Shearer regarding the current quality of the Simpsons…He complains that his parts have shrunk–the reason for that is, as showrunner, I am never sure if he will show up for the table reads for which he is so handsomely paid. More than once, in the past, I have had a show set for a Thursday read featuring Harry’s characters and been told on the Wednesday before that he is not coming. Hence, I have learned not to give him too much to do in any episode. Mr. Shearer also describes how he was happier with season four of the show. Well, I ran seasons three and four and he didn’t seem very happy to me then. I can particularly remember how he repeatedly complained to me and others about how much he disliked the episode “Homer at the Bat”, which is now viewed as a classic. I am personally offended by his comment that he feels “totally screwed” by the show financially. He is set this year to make over 5.5 million dollars for what can generously be described as a few hours work a week. When I consider how much firefighters and teachers in this country earn, Mr. Shearer’s remarks make me want to throw up.”

    I think Shearer has pretty much kept his mouth shut since then, as Charlie noted.

  5. 5 January 2010 at 12:19 am

    I don’t really agree with Al’s opinions. Yeah, it’s true Harry makes more than a teacher or a firefighter, but a teacher and/or firefighter do not provide the voices for the Simpsons characters that Harry does. Al’s ‘class envy’ diatribe also insinuates that Harry’s work hasn’t contributed anything of value to society. Mr. Shearer has provided the voices of characters that millions of fans love and as much as Al would hate to admit it, Harry’s value to the show greatly outweighs his.

    Sorry, Al, but you can be replaced much, much easier than Harry could.

    • 8 Celia
      5 January 2010 at 9:05 am

      It sounds to me like the two of them had some kind of personal disagreement. Therefore, I’m a little reluctant to get involved. But I do consider that the show makes a huge amount and invoking firefighters and teachers when arguing against the idea of someone being paid unfairly is a little less convincing coming from someone else in the entertainment industry who is probably also paid far too much money for what he does, whatever that is. And, as you say, if Harry left the show, it would knock out a huge segement that wouldn’t be well replaced by someone else. Whereas, losers like me don’t even know what it is Al Jean does exactly and probably wouldn’t notice if he was replaced by a monkey in a bucket. Of course, I’m an idiot, but I’m hardly the only one.

  6. 9 Charlie Sweatpants
    5 January 2010 at 4:57 pm

    A couple of points here. The argument D.N. referenced happened during a dispute over pay. My understanding is that the voice actors basically won, they get paid as much as any main cast member on a big hit show, with the widely cited number being $400,000 per episode. In that podcast we linked to a couple of months ago (https://deadhomersociety.wordpress.com/2009/11/14/simpsons-alumni-update-harry-shearer-podcast/) Shearer said that he didn’t like how those comments were blown up, but then he turned right around and said that bloated writing staffs are killing television comedy. It’s not too hard to read between the lines there.

    And Jake’s right, Shearer and the rest of the cast are far more important than any writer, even Al Jean (though according to the Ortved book Jean’s current deal gives him a percentage so the executives must consider him vital). The real problem is that some of the voice actors are getting old. I’ve noted this before but Marcia Wallace just can’t do Krabappel the way she used to. If you don’t believe me get thee to Hulu (or a torrent site) and skip to about the 5:15 mark of “Thursdays with Abie”, her voice is significantly deeper than it used to be. I’m not knocking Wallace, she’s always done a great job, but age eventually catches up with everyone and her voice just isn’t the same. Nor is she the only one, I’ve noticed something similar with some of Shearer’s characters (especially Lenny, though not so much in that episode).

    That, to my mind, is the real clock the show is under. Shearer just turned 66, Kavner turns 60 this year, Castellaneta and Cartwright are both in their fifties, and even Smith and Azaria, the relative babies of the bunch, are in their mid forties. At some point one or more of them isn’t going to be able to do the voices any longer. Mindless Zombie Simpsons fanboys will just keep plowing ahead, but so much of the show’s current appeal is based off of nostalgia and aesthetics that the more casual fans will (hopefully) find it a big turnoff.

    • 10 Celia
      6 January 2010 at 9:03 am

      I think a lot of people asked what was up with Mrs. Krabappel’s voice when Bart Gets a Z aired. And a few people have insisted that Marge’s voice has grown worse over the years, even though it’s never been that pretty. Even though there are plenty of actors working into their seventies and eighties, they tend not to be doing the hundred-different-voices stuff. I’m sure there are people hoping to do what D.N. fears and carry the show onwards unto eternity, but even they can’t all be so deluded as to assume the actors are going to last forever. Though maybe they think they can replace anyone whose voice has grown too old (as with Lunchlady Doris, when Tress MacNeil did her voice for a line in s18 – though I don’t think I’ve heard Lunchlady Tress since then, perhaps people complained) which would also be delusional, since people would complain about that.

  7. 9 January 2010 at 8:33 pm

    I’d like to point out that this isn’t the first time that Harry Shearer has run afoul of the TV producers he’s worked with – check out the oral history book “Live from New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live.” To be honest, Shearer comes across as a bit of asshole in the recollections of some people in that book (Dick Ebersol has a particularly harsh assessment), but in Shearer’s defence, he was labouring in an atmosphere that was chewing and spitting out a lot of talented people.

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