Learn About the Pop Culture Phenomenon The Simpsons

Many people think that animated shows are only for children, but they don’t realize that there are also animated shows that are specifically made for adults. One of these TV shows is The Simpsons, which first aired on December 17, 1989, and already has more than 700 episodes as of 2022. 

The Simpsons is not only one of the best adult animated shows but also the most popular, as a lot of people watch it yearly, and it is also considered a billion-dollar franchise within the merchandising industry. To know more about this popular TV show, here are things you should learn about the pop culture phenomenon The Simpsons.

What are The Simpsons?

The Simpsons is an animated situational comedy (sitcom) show that was created by Matt Groening, who is also known for creating the comic strip Life in Hell (1977 to 2012) that was published in the Wet magazine, as well as another popular animated show called Futurama. Since its creation in 1989, The Simpsons has always been shown on the Fox Network.

The TV show is starred by a family called the Simpsons, which consists of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. This family is living in a fictional town called Springfield, and the lives of the Simpsons and the other residents in the town serve as a parody of American culture and society, as well as the current events in the United States and the human condition.

As of 2022, The Simpsons is the longest-running animated series in the US, and it is also the longest-running sitcom. In addition to TV show episodes, The Simpsons have also appeared on the big screen in the form of The Simpsons Movie, which was released on July 27, 2007. The movie was a massive success, as it had $536.4 million at the box office against a $75 million budget. The Simpsons have also appeared in various comic books, video games, and books around the world.

The Creation of The Simpsons

The Simpsons were created when Matt Groening was offered a spot as one of the writers and cartoonists for The Tracey Ullman Show, which was produced by legendary director James L. Brooks. The producer decided to add small sketches before and after commercial breaks of the said show, and he asked Matt Groening if he could come up with an animated sketch. Brooks first knew about Groening when he read the Life in Hell comic strips, and because he was a fan of the said project, he contacted Groening to work for the Tracey Ullman Show.

Groening initially wanted to propose the Life in Hell comic strips be animated, but he would later realize that animated Life in Hell would mean that he needed to rescind publication rights to Wet magazine, the publisher of the comic strips. So, during the pitch meeting with Brooks, he didn’t really have anything planned out and just formulated an idea while on the meeting. 

The idea was about a dysfunctional family that deals with various parodied versions of the struggles that a typical family faces in the US. This idea would be approved, and it will eventually be called “The Simpsons.” The names of the Simpsons family member would then be derived from Groening’s own family members, but the character that is supposed to be based on him, Bart, would be given the name “Bart” as the anagram for the word “brat.”

The Simpsons family would then appear as a short sketch in The Tracey Ullman Show episode that was first broadcasted on April 19, 1987. For the short sketch, Groening only submitted basic sketches to the animators and hoped that the sketches would be cleaned up during production. However, the animators didn’t really clean up the sketches; instead, they just re-traced his drawings, resulting in the crude look of the short sketch. The characters within The Simpsons weren’t intended to have yellow skin, but it was colorist Georgie Peluse who pushed to make the characters yellow.

Because of the popularity of The Simpsons shorts among viewers and executives, a team of production companies adapted the short sketch into a half-hour series in 1989 for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The show premiered on December 17, 1989, with the episode titled “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire.” However, an episode titled “Some Enchanted Evening” was the first episode to be produced for the show, but because of animation problems, it did not premiere until May 1990 as the final episode of The Simpsons’ first season.

Producing The Simpsons

Matt Groening, James L. Brooks, and Sam Simon would be the showrunners for the first and second seasons of the show, but they would later give the reins to Mike Reiss and Al Jean for the third and fourth seasons. For seasons five and six, the showrunner would be David Mirkin, while for seasons seven and eight, the production was handled by Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein. Mike Scully would then serve as the showrunner for seasons nine through twelve. The longest showrunner for the Simpsons is Al Jean, who would return for season 13 and would continue to work as the sole showrunner until season 31. For season 32 onwards, Al Jean would be accompanied by Matt Selman.

Various studios have animated The Simpsons throughout the years. For the animated shorts version of The Simpsons that appeared in the Tracey Ullman Show, the animation was handled domestically at Klasky Csupo. However, when The Simpson show debuted and became increasingly popular, the producers of the show decided to divide the workload through various animation studios. These studios include AKOM, Rough Draft Studios, Toonzone Entertainment, USAnination, and Anivision. A few of these studios are located in South Korea.

So, those are the different details that you should know about The Simpsons, which is considered a pop culture phenomenon because of its popularity and influence in the animation industry. If you haven’t watched The Simpson yet, you should definitely try watching at least one season, particularly the earlier seasons that are regarded to have the best and funniest episodes.