Plummeting Quality, Now with Numbers!

The Twisted World of Marge Simpson3

“Did you know that disco record sales were up four hundred percent for the year ending 1976?  If these trends continue . . . a-y-y-y.” – Disco Stu
“Uh, your fish are dead.” – Homer Simpson
“Yeah, I know.  I can’t get them out of there.” – Disco Stu

Reader Alice had some bored time at work yesterday.  I’ll let her explain:

Unfortunately, as my screen is in full view of my boss, I have to at least try and look as though I’m doing something productive.

MS Excel is a big part of my job… so a quick copy and paste from IMDB later (source:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0096697/eprate) I had all of the episode numbers listed next to average ratings given by the users of the site. I then grouped the episodes by season (and then took an average from a set of averages for each one, which, strictly speaking, you’re not supposed to do… but collating each rating may’ve taken a little too much of my time!), and produced the graph below:

IMDB Ratings of Simpsons Episodes

The line speaks for itself, but there are a couple of things worth pointing out.  First, every single digit season is higher than every double digit season.  Even Season 1, often reviled on-line for the crudity of the animation and the unpolished sound of the voices, scores significantly higher than every 10+ season.  Second, we can see that Seasons 13 and later, when no one save Al Jean was left from the original writing staff, are rated even lower than the transitional period of Seasons 8-11. 

There’s more fun to be had if you click the IMDB link Alice included.  All 464 episodes are listed, and there are only five episodes from Seasons 10+ in the top 100, and two of those are from Season 10.  (The other three are “Trilogy of Error” from Season 12, “24 Minutes” from Season 18, and “Eternal Moonshine of the Spotless Mind” from Season 19.)  If you look at the top 200, you get only fifteen from Seasons 10+ (including the five from the top 100).  Of those fifteen, eight are from Season 10. 

Seasons 21, 20, 17, 16, 15 and 14 have no episodes rated in the top 200, and Season 13 only has one, “Treehouse of Horror XII” which snuck in at #195.  Seasons 18 and 19 have only their top 100 outliers (“24 Minutes” and “Eternal Moonshine of the Spotless Mind” respectively) in the top 200.  If you’re counting at home, that means that since “Treehouse of Horror XII” was broadcast there have been only two episodes that IMDB’s voters considered up to par.  That’s a success rate of 1% since November 2001. 

As the graph makes abundantly clear, The Simpsons and Zombie Simpsons are two different television shows.  There was a very high quality one in the 90s, and now there’s a middling to bad one that just won’t stop. 

Thanks Alice!

(Oh yeah, no bitching about the fact that the Y-axis is only two points tall.  IMDB’s users are just as in love with the 7-9 Scale as the rest of the internet.  We’re talking about almost 140,000 individual votes, changes of one point, especially when they’re that consistent from season to season, are very significant.) 

11 Responses to “Plummeting Quality, Now with Numbers!”

  1. 1 Stephen
    6 July 2010 at 7:24 pm

    As a gamer who is stupid enough to read “professional” game reviews, I am so pleased that you mention the dreaded 7-9 scale.

    If Zombie Simpson fanboys are anything like gamers, then mid to low 7’s are going to hurt quite a bit.

  2. 7 July 2010 at 8:35 pm

    Hey, these numbers don’t prove a thing!

    Homer’s new scalp wax will prove the show is still a profitable commodity for FOX and Matt Groening!

  3. 3 Hwoarangtheboomerang
    13 January 2012 at 10:41 pm

    The chart looks like a dead Homer

  4. 4 Hwoarangtheboomerang
    13 January 2012 at 10:49 pm

    I get it now! “The Simpsons'” television career is now like Troy McClures (was).
    Ultimate foreshadowing.

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