Global Television: The Simpsons

Does the Simpsons have a purpose? According to the executive producer George Mayer, its purpose is “to get people to re-examine their world, and specifically the authority figures in their world.”

Beginning in 1987 as a series of short animations before airing on FOX as a full animated series in 1989, Matt Groening’s The Simpsons has become one of the worlds most dysfunctional and beloved television families. Despite the many jokes and references to American pop culture that flew well over my head, I still watched the now 30-year-old show every weekday at 6:00PM on Channel 10. The Simpsons is the longest-running scripted show in TV history, but what can be attributed for the global success (and now failure) of this cultural phenomenon?

The Simpsons was one of the first animated families to target the an older demographic and counter the traditional concept of functional sitcom families. The Simpsons are almost over the top dysfunctional, something that I think everyone can find comfort in and relate to. Perhaps not to the extent of having an evil twin brother living upstairs, but I know I can see glimmers of Homer’s goofy and out of touch personality in my own father.

Outside of the Simpson family, the show has a rich ensemble of support characters in Springfield. Though it may not be politically correct in some cases, The Simpsons had extreme stereotypical characters that global audiences could all recognise others or even themselves in. The over-friendly Ned Flanders, the overweight, pretentious Comic Book Guy or the representation of Indian culture through Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. The Simpsons grew to become a huge part of popular culture and influenced global relationships and politics, and with that came a great deal of global responsibility. Though it would be untrue to say these stereotypes didn’t help the success of the show, in the era of political correctness, it’s a large factor to the shows failure in the 2010’s.

The downfall of The Simpsons from magic to mediocrity is largely agreed to have begun in Season 9 where episodes like “The Principal and the Pauper” gives the back story of Armin Tamzarian who served in the army and met Seymour Skinner before resuming his identity after it was presumed he had died in the war. The episode paid no respect to the audience’s investment into the characters and their backstory, and seemed to be a clear indication of the show running out of original ideas and stories to tell.

While the episode is considered non-cannon, the bad taste it left in fans mouths remain along with the 21 other seasons to come after it. Backstories were reworked, jokes and plots were retold, and the show became lazy and continued to fall into unpopularity.

From what I like to remember from The Simpsons (Seasons 1-9), its relatability, satirical humour and social and cultural commentary allowed it to reach and resonate with a global audience. However, too much of a good thing slowly held truth with the show attempting to appeal to a newer audience by still hanging on to old stories and characters. Nevertheless, The Simpsons was one of the best television shows in the 20th century.

Frank Tremain.


Basile, N 2019, ‘How and When Did The Simpsons Begin’, liveaboutdotcom, 23 May, viewed 9 August 2019, <>.

Cartoon Curiosities 2016, ‘The Globalization of The Simpsons: A Study of Satire in International Media’, A Medium Corporation, viewed 8 August 2019, <>.

Entertain The Elk 2017, The Day The Simpsons Died, online video, 9 February, Entertain The Elk, viewed on 11 August 2019, <>.

Super Eyepatch Wolf 2017, The Fall of The Simpsons: How it Happened, online video, 12 August, Super Eyepatch Wolf, viewed on 11 August 2019, <>.

Sweatpants, C 2013, ‘The Simpsons In Australia: A Fan Remembers (& Rambles)’, Dead Homer Society, 25 July, viewed on 8 August 2019, <>.

The One True Geekology 2017, ‘The Day The Simpsons Died’, Geeks, viewed on 9 August 2019, <>.

Tribe Social Magazine 2016, ‘The Simpsons: 28 years of everlasting success’, viewed on 8 August 2019, <>.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s