The Simpsons premiered as a regular series on January 14, 1990. I was 14 at the time, only a few years older than Bart. Now, I’m catching up on Homer. It’s been on for more than half my life. 450 episodes and a feature film, and I’ve seen every one of those episodes in its original airing. I can’t even imagine what the world would be like without America’s Favorite Family.
In my own life, the importance of The Simpsons can only be summed up my Homer himself, when describing television. “Friend… mother… secret lover”. But before I get to that, I think it’s necessary to look at how The Simpsons changed TV.
I tend to get in an argument whenever I say this (Hi, Myndi!), but TV comedy prior to The Simpsons was, by and large, not very good. Sure, you can point to exceptions, and I will grant you those exceptions. But those are the shows that are still fondly remembered 20 or 30 years later. There are many more shows that have been forgotten, and that was because they were bad. In those days, the majority of sitcom jokes were laid out like comic strips – setup, beat, punch line. Repeat. And one of the things that really stands out to me is the way that sitcoms would presuppose the viewer had no knowledge of anything else outside of the reality of the show.
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