Hearing “Simpsons renewed for another season” would start to get monotonous after all these years if we didn’t still love the show so much. Not only is the Simpsons the longest-running animated show on television, it is the longest running television show of any kind in United States history – surpassing Gunsmoke some time ago. Is it ever going to end? That’s a good question.
The Ageless Simpsons
Renewed is the perfect word for the Simpsons, since they never get old – either literally or figuratively – despite the passage of almost three decades. The producers of the show made the decision some time ago that the characters should always be exactly as they are now and not one day older.
Homer is still the portly, middle-aged incompetent nuclear plant worker that he always was. And his wife and children are just as ageless as he is. There’s a certain comfort found in sitting down in front of our own television – as the Simpsons do at the beginning of every episode – and finding them exactly as they were last week. But there are other reasons for keeping them ageless.
The Simpsons As Metaphor
The Simpsons renewed is an allegory for our entire country. Over the last three decades, the United States has changed repeatedly in a number of ways. The economy has gone up and down, Republicans and Democrats have come and gone from the White House, and we’ve seen the Internet grow from something obscure to something we can’t live without.
As noted by the New York Times, by keeping the Simpsons at the same age over the years, the producers are able to make everything relevant for the characters. Every new generation, new invention, or new fad can be integrated into the show every season. If the producers allowed the characters to age – like the rest of us – they would be a product of a particular time – in their case the 80s.
This approach not only keeps them relevant when it comes to big overarching themes and social commentary on things like presidential elections and the O.J. Simpson trial, it also makes them more interesting for new viewers of the show. Kids who start watching now aren’t going to be interested in out of date jokes about Miami Vice.
How Long Can The Simpsons Go On?
For some reason, there is a belief out there that “all good things must end.” The last episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation even used that as its title. But the truth is, as long as the stories stay fresh and the writers can keep drawing in new viewers with humor that’s relevant to them, there really isn’t any reason why the Simpsons or any other show has to come to an end.
Take Doctor Who for example. As noted by BWW, this British sci-fi series went on the air in 1963 and kept going well into the 1980s. Then it stopped for a short time, only to restart in the early 2000’s under new leadership and with a new vision. Essentially, Doctor Who has been running almost continuously – especially if you take into account reruns during its hiatus – since the Kennedy administration.
And the way the producers of Doctor who managed this was through renewal. Not only is the doctor himself renewed on a regular basis, the show reinvents itself over time. What started out as a simple children’s show about monsters, aliens, and time travel has become something that is more than occasionally profound and meaningful.
The Simpsons renewed again means that it too is reaching people and providing them with something not only funny, but meaningful. Over the decades, as the Simpsons themselves have remained the same, the society around them has changed in ways they felt free to comment on – after they got up off the sofa.
[Featured Image by Fox]