The Simpsons And Criticism

There were three episodes of The Simpsons that made me stop watching.

I had been drifting in and out of the seasons from around the time that Ricky Gervais wrote a much publicised episode, “Homer Simpson, This Is Your Wife”, that turned out to be a bunch of claptrap featuring him playing a David Brent substitute and making “Princess Diana is dead” jokes. I had been a hardcore fan up to that point, but from that time the show began, in my estimation, a nosedive in quality. It still made me laugh on occasion, but in that general period the jokes became forced, more and more focus was out on what should have been just ancillary characters, everything became stretched and padded in terms of script (like they were trying to fill out episodes) and it was just…weak.

The first episode where I made the conscious decision to no longer give The Simpsons my attention was “The Italian Bob”, the Sideshow Bob episode set in Italy. I found it lazy and boring, and somewhat insulting to the audiences intelligence. There was a scene in that episode where Homer cavorts on a balcony or something in the guise of Mussolini, which was mildly entertaining, only for Lisa (who became so irritating a character in the last few years of my viewing) to actually point out what he was doing directly.

Like, the writers didn’t think the audience would “get” it, it had to be spelt out exactly. I groaned and flicked off.

Since then, I have cached the odd episode, but as far as I can see The Simpsons hasn’t improved much. The only other time that I went out of my way to watch an episode was “In The Name Of The Grandfather”, the 2009 St Patrick’s Day edition. As before, I found it lazy, trite, boring. It wasn’t the jokes against the Irish (The Simpsons has done that before, and done it better), it was that the jokes, the script, the story were lazy, trite and boring (I mean, look at the title), along with celebrity cameos that were wither overdone or pointless. Haven’t watched a full episode of The Simpsons since.

I bring all that up because of this, a semi-official reaction to this kind of criticism, criticism that has built up for ages really, if you stroll into any tv discussing internet forum. Haven’t seen that episode by the way and don’t intend to either.

I can appreciate that the creators of The Simpsons may get annoyed at the paradox of consistently high ratings combined with “those” kind of reviews popping up everywhere, but that sort of end title really bugs me, even if I haven’t watched the episode. It smacks of a creative team that is not good at dealing with criticism and is content to smear any such criticism of the show with that kind of “you suck” label. That is, pretending that anyone on the internet who criticises the show is a verbally challenged dimwit.

Of course, it would be better if the brigade of people who do, in fact, do that would switch off completely, like I did, rather than just keep watching and criticising, which is rather odd. That is not me praising me either, I think it is just common sense.

But still, the people behind The Simpsons should be a bit more wary of totally dismissing criticism. People are entitled to their views, and not everybody who holds them about The Simpsons is the sort of person who needs to “go outside”. I am past the point of thinking that the poor quality turn (compared to, say, its first ten seasons) The Simpsons took will kill it – it clearly hasn’t so far – but it would be unfortunate if, decades from now when the show is well and truly done – it was remembered as something that took way too long to die, leaving far more bad then good comedy.

Oh, and hey, this sucks.

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