When reports of George H.W. Bush's death on Friday first hit the press, scores of social media users took to their favorite platforms to eulogize the former president and remember his contributions to the United States. However, others took a more lighthearted approach and looked back at the time he was parodied on The Simpsons more than two decades ago as the titular family's curmudgeonly new neighbor.
As reported by the Independent, a number of Twitter users posted images and clips from "Two Bad Neighbors," an episode from The Simpsons' seventh season in 1996 which featured George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara living as private citizens and moving to the fictional town of Springfield. Among those who referenced the episode in their social media tributes to Bush was longtime Simpsons writer and showrunner Al Jean, who posted an image of Homer Simpson and the late president with the caption, "we will miss you, neighbor."
"Two Bad Neighbors" saw Bush, who was voiced by regular Simpsons voice actor Harry Shearer, per IMDB, get on the Simpson family's bad side after he punished Bart for his rambunctious, yet well-meaning behavior by spanking the 10-year-old boy. According to the Independent, the episode was also memorable for its third act, where Homer fought Bush in the sewer to settle the differences between both families.In a 2016 review of "Two Bad Neighbors," Puzzled Pagan's Patrick Gaertner pointed out how Simpsons writer Ken Keeler seemed to be referencing the dynamic on Dennis the Menace between the comic strip's titular character and his strict, elderly neighbor, Mr. Wilson. Overall, Gaertner described "Two Bad Neighbors" as an episode that was "so dumb," but also "a lot of fun," considering the biting comments George and Barbara Bush made about The Simpsons a few years prior to the episode's original airdate. The Bush family's first shot against The Simpsons came in 1990 when Barbara Bush referred to the cartoon as "the dumbest thing" she had ever seen, as recalled by the Independent. According to the publication, the series' showrunners reacted by sending Mrs. Bush a letter from Marge, which prompted the then-first lady to apologize for her remarks and comment that the Simpson matriarch was "setting a good example for the rest of the country."
Despite Barbara Bush's apology, her husband brought up The Simpsons a second time in 1992, as he referenced the show's edgy, oftentimes satirical nature and compared it to The Waltons, a 1970s television series that he considered the antithesis of The Simpsons due to its focus on old-fashioned, wholesome family values.
"We are going to keep on trying to strengthen the American family, to make American families a lot more like the Waltons and a lot less like the Simpsons," Bush said.