You might have heard of it?
The Simpsons is regarded by many to be the premier of comedic writing- the kind that could mix intelligence and silliness, darkness and hope, satire and sheer comic hilarity; all in beautiful yellow.
However, The Simpsons is alright becoming a name synonymous with a subject being past its prime and absurdly so.
Unfortunately for The Simpsons, this prime was supreme and the fall was slow, with an impact that is still yet to come and is longed for by fans the world-over.
There are a variety of reasons by which this decline in writing quality came about.
Wackiness. Wackiness kills me.
In The Simpsons of late, the wackiness goes on too long and is rather, in all actuality, rude. To keep a single joke going for the best part of a minute is for the writing to insist upon itself, as well as insisting on viewer either encountering humour or uncomfortableness. It is as though the writers are aggressive in their stance on this- you will either laugh or you have to wait for this private joke of theirs to end.
There is also a trend of breaking the 4th wall for humour’s sake. This occurs too often with sadly no humorous payoff and tends to be facilitated by the modern show’s biggest failing- the grating change of beloved characters so as to drive a change of the show’s current direction; wackiness.
Here’s the awfulness of the situation for me: Bart and Lisa saying, feeling and doing things that children simply wouldn’t do.
It sucks, and that’s a cheap criticism from me, but that’s because it sucks.
I do have a suggestion for all those involved in both watching and writing The Simpsons.
I’ll start with the writers and it’s likely that they’re suffering the most out of this ordeal.
I truly feel that the current writers of The Simpsons are a talented bunch, particularly with the modern style of writing (a focus on randomness and cheekiness) and the fact that writing an episode of anything is no simple task. Not only that but also they have been hired by The Simpsons to write The Simpsons- a compliment comedy writers dream of.
Therein lies the problem. Writing for The Simpsons is such an enormous goal achieved that it must seem impossible to walk away- to the same degree that executives at Fox would find it impossible to abandon such a money-maker.
Who wouldn’t want to write for The Simpsons’? It is perhaps the greatest television show of all time and is certainly a towering pinnacle of quality writing up to series 9- what writer wouldn’t expect great things to follow once they are part of The Simpsons’ writing staff? You’d be working for your heroes. Only, your heroes are now long gone and you are bewilderingly trying to improve and modernise the Mona Lisa.
I understand that modernisation is necessary to keeping something fresh and enjoyable, and perhaps The Simpsons could have used well such a reboot, but in this case the process of modernisation has clearly floundered and failed. Not to mention that the show did encounter a reboot in so far as writing and style went; it was this reboot that made it of the quality that it was.
However, for The Simpsons to thrive in regard by critics (you and I)- it must die and be only remembered as far as the quality went.
The writer’s attempts at humour and plot need their own show with different characters, instead of taking a show and characters in which people are lovingly invested and forcing changes in their direction and charm.
It is unpleasant to take these established characters and alter them for the purposes of their own plots, at least in as far as the quality of the show went. It was great for the show to change Homer over time and to portray him a little more dopey and tad more nutty, but this personality change only exaggerated the point that he was kind, loving, and adorably incompetent at all else. Recently, the changes of character have been to engage plot-loops, rather than the audience.
Other than that, the humour sadly is sub-par and that is the final fault- regardless of The Simpsons’ format being used and abused. I have no advice for this- just move on with your writing career and practise…maybe read some books.
Ultimately though, the writers are selling themselves short by writing for The Simpsons. They are never going to match the class and innovation of humour- all intelligent, silly and touching, that The Simpsons writers up to series 9 were producing, using a much later and soiled product. We have here some young writers, attempting their own modern humour and innovation of plot, who are being consistently shot-down by every critic owing largely to them working on The Simpsons’ format.
Certainly The Simpsons’ should have died over a decade ago- likely with a finale viewed by the most of the world in possession of a television, but as much as that affords you in artistic merit (e.g. Breaking Bad), it doesn’t bring in the assured pennies. The Simpsons- a most regrettable Cash-Cow.
I feel a great deal sorry for the current Simpsons writers- I’m sure they’re trying to maintain quality and loved the show as much as we all did. But it’s not often I recommend someone to flee but I do so now to The Simpsons’ writers with a hope that they can bugger off and succeed with their own product. I’d look forward to watching it.
My advice to those that miss The Simpsons’ for what it was is as follows: watch up to series 9 only, and the never, EVER, watch even one single episode of the latest seasons. To not watch it to remove their audience, and with no audience there is no money and without the money that The Simpsons’ perpetually assured simply via name: The Simpsons’ shall finally die and belong only to its past and lovers- you and me.
The Simpsons’ from series 1-8 is a pedigree of what people like me want to do to you: make you laugh, make you admire, listen and feel touched by characters and plots that can honestly alter one’s perception of oneself and how we seek to continue. Mostly laugh.
What we must not forget that for as long as The Simpsons’ was distressing us past-quality, it was still bloody good for an awfully long time- 8 years. For 8 years it was what it was and we should not only be grateful for the good times, but also bask in them.
Still; always a fan.