“Bobo, I know I say this every century, but I’ll never leave you behind again.” – C.M. Burns

There is a danger, particularly acute when talking about something as ephemeral as a television show, to be overly fond of the past. Most of the time, the good old days weren’t that good; they sucked and were full of polio and bigotry. But The Simpsons is the exception that proves the rule. Those first eight seasons were – are – that good. They dissect and satirize modern American pathology so well that it likely can’t be done better, and certainly not on a platform as broad as network television.

Distinguishing that from the safe, monotonous drone of Zombie Simpsons isn’t important the way addressing climate change or resettling refugees is important, but on the less immediately meaningful level of what we remember as a society, it is vital. The Simpsons stands a good chance of defining our era the same way Shakespeare and Mark Twain define theirs. It is us distilled, all the way to our rotten and forgivable cores, and when people a hundred years and more from now want to understand us, that hilarious shorthand is where they’ll turn. The Simpsons is as good as we can do; it’s smart, funny, insightful and unashamed. It seems a pity to confuse the future about what is and is not the genuine article.

– – –

Other mini-books by Charlie Sweatpants:
Tapped In (<- Simpsons Tapped Out players, click here)
J.J. Abrams Is Bad at Movies (<- Star Wars & Star Trek fans, click here)

12 Responses to “Appendix E – Yeah, It Was That Good (1,000,000 A.D.)”

  1. 2 Al Gore Doll
    3 October 2012 at 2:06 pm

    In the future, it will be decreed that no one shall mention the seasons of “Zombie Simpsons” again, under penalty of torture.

  2. 3 Gamer1st
    9 October 2012 at 5:38 am

    At least there’s still Futurama.

    • 4 spanio
      29 January 2013 at 11:19 pm

      Too bad Futurama now needs its own web book about it’s death and resurrection as a zombie version of itself. Oh wait, the story is actually much simpler so I can sum it up right now.
      FOX killed Futurama when it was still great. Comedy Central brought it back to life but ironically left all the comedy in the ground.

      • 5 SpaceKing
        28 August 2013 at 11:18 pm

        Futurama still has a good chance for being put to rest before attaining a true zombie state. It isn’t as culturally significant as Simpsons (though I actually enjoy it more) and reportedly Comedy Central will drop it after season 7. I’ve had my fill for 6 seasons and four movies (Community was correct).

  3. 6 Ground Yet Uncovered
    23 May 2013 at 6:36 pm

    There is one sacred cow that has yet to be slaughtered in PC America. Show non whites as pathetic failures who have many more excuses for poor results than successes; then show the white people who make excuses for non whites as either just as pathetic or exploiters of cheap labor and easy sexual encounters.

    What!? That stings you down to your core? I thought you liked your humor with brass knuckles!

    Hard hitting comedy is WHY the Simpsons was an epic show for the first eight seasons! They never did poke fun at non whites for being jealous of whites. Nor did they poke fun at all the white losers who hate that fact that white people dominate society yet they don’t give up a shred of their own white privledge.

    Ofcourse white losers can’t judge other colors of people honestly anymore than they can judge themselves honestly. To criticise others is to invite criticism of ones self. The white loser, above all else dreads the mirror being held up to him, lest it reveal what he already suspects about himself. That he has earned his place so very near the bottom of society.

  4. 24 October 2013 at 7:43 am

    Really enjoyed the website and article. Being in the Uk my viewing order has been rather skewed, and I was never certain what episodes aired when or were in what season, but I’ve definitely noticed a decline in quality over time for all the reasons mentioned.

    One recent fact I’ve noticed however is that there is a stage below Zombie Simpsons, what I would call toxic Simpsons.

    I’m not sure on facts and season figures, —- maybe seasons 19 and 20, but what started out as a comedy that poked fun at everyone and everything, (especially the establishment), seems to be actually glorifying that establishment and those established values.

    Celebrities aren’t just playing themselves for laughs, the way Mark hammel did in the Bodyguard episode, but actually proving the godly solutions to all situations.

    mrs. Obama appeals to recieve a parade of adulation before giving Lisa a pep talk which makes everything better. Quite ironic in an episode which has some quite insiteful comments about both blind people and society’s obsession with child mollesters, albeit this was a tiny amount of gold in a huge heep of dross.

    Tony Blaire, (a Prime Minister about whom opinions in Britain are mixed at best), appears to be some sort of mixture between James Bond and Inspector gadgit. And this from a show that once had Homer trying to shoot bottle rocket’s up an ex pressident’s behind or showing Jimmy Cartr doing the break dance.

    The absolute and total Nadir of the glorification of celebrity though for me was the lady Gaga episode. Lisa feels bad and is unpopular (again!), Lady Gaga (aboard a steampunk magical train that wouldn’t look out of place in stardust), somehow senses this and goes to Springfield to cheer Lisa up. Lisa gets irritated and quite literally Denounces Gaga, proclaiming “your message is false! you can’t just act that walking on high heels and social acceptance is easy!”

    However how is this resolved? Gaga persuades Lisa to sing a five note, air head pop ballard about her being a superstar. So, Lisa was wrong all the time and should’ve actually just embraced the world of shallow fashion, sequins and external falsity that her outcry, like the last gasp of her former self decried.

    And it doesn’t stop there. There is the story where Homer finishes producing a half time show for the Super bowl, (didn’t he already do that?)) based on flanders’ play about Noah’s arc. The national audience boo and proclaim that religion shouldn’t be involved, yet Marge and those supposedly level headed residents of Springfield praise Homer’s actions, with the clear implication that the liberal media’s idea about religion is wrong.

    Another example might be the hd tv episode, in which the Simpsons decide they need an Hd plasma tv, and engage in a wife swap Tv program to get one, subjecting us to half an hour of disfunctional mariage remarks and the down right depressing comedy of Ricky Jevase, (laughing at social missfits just for being such really isn’t kind). Though it features the now almost wrote aspertions about the Fox network, the episode ends with the Simpsons sitting in front of the hd tv they wanted.

    I have not done enough research into later seasons of the Simpsons, but I do wonder if there is a point where Zombie Simpsons becomes toxic Simpsons, where America’s bad boy becomes just the stand point for rebellious youth to be told what to like. I’ll say that while I watched Zombie Simpsons, —- particularly because the way Sky 1 works is by an illogical type of grab bag where an episode from Season 16 could be followed by one from season 1, the instances of this new, socially safe, pro majority Toxic Simpsons have almost persuaded me that it’s not worth it anymore, even for the one good joke or amusing situation in half an hour of Zombie Simpsons.

    This to me is a far more worrying tendency than just a tv program overstaying it’s welcome, since it actually seems a betrayal of what the Simpsons originally was, turning Satire against society, into a pillar on which to prop up cherrished social beliefs.

    It seems Toxic Simpsons is turning rapidly into a morality play centered around how those various antisocial people, The Simpsons, the bad family down the street briefly rebel against a different part of the established order, capitalism, sexual politics, religion, government, and then are shown to be wrong all along.

    While I’ve never seen very much of The Crosbies or similar sitcoms, (being in The Uk), it actually seems in message, Toxic Simpsons is doing very much the same thing, albeit it does so via the very modern medium of showing it’s protagonists as anti Heroes who struggle futily against the mas forces of right.

    I therefore wonder if perhaps an aditional postscript needs to be added to Zombie Simpsons, and a note that like Micky Mouse and Bugs Bunny, the descent of the Simpsons’ characters into voiceless puppets prey to reinforce any position which seems prophitable and safe has already begun.

    • 10 Victor Dang
      15 May 2014 at 7:26 pm

      I can’t say for sure if I agree 100% with you, but you’re right in that there IS a noticeable difference in quality between early Zombie Simpsons and later ZS (what we’ve got now), however small and imperceptible the changes may be when compared to the show’s golden run.

  5. 11 Victor Dang
    15 May 2014 at 7:27 pm

    OK, I HIGHLY doubt that you last 5 commenters REALLY loved the article THAT much.

  6. 25 May 2014 at 7:32 am

    Well Victor I’ve noticed a quality shift in zombie simpsons for quite some time, however as I said it’s the current direction of being pro establishment that sort o worries me.

    Some episodes a few years ago were, at least extremely provocative in political views, such as the one where the simpsons finish up being imprisoned an and brain washed for holding anti conservative views (I don’t remember that one very well because Sky rarely show it), or the halloween special where Kang and Kodos out and out say that they invaded earth because they believe humans were developing weapons of mass disintigration.

    There were also less political stories but still ones with an anti establishment bent, such as the school being split on gender lines but Lisa being determined to succeed at maths even if this means disguise as a boy.

    Recently however that has just not been the case, most stories just seem random craziness and when there is a point it is, as I said of the Gaga episode that rebelling against established values is a bad idea. For example look at the comparatively recent “the day the earth stood cool” supposedly a satyr of art house hipster mentality, but actually more coming off as showing anyone who doesn’t like Mcdonalds (or crusty burger), or appreciates art is an elitest snobthe less said about the breast feeding comments the better.

    Of course it might be that my perspective is slightly different on this, with Britain generally being less conservative and less right wing than the states.


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