I’m a giant Simpsons fan. Actually, to say I’m a die hard Simpsons maniac would be an under exaggeration. Not only is it my favorite TV show of all time, but it’s really changed the way how I looked at TV overall. The show introduced a new form of comedy quick cut aways and multiple pop culture references, plus both kids and adults loved it. It paved the way for shows like South Park and Beavis and Butt-Head, and was respected by every TV critic in America.
But, like most die hard Simpsons fans, I don’t watch the new episodes. Sadly, The Simpsons isn’t on air anymore, but just a shallow imitation with the same title. I occasionally watch a new episode, usually for tradition (like the Tree House of Horror episodes) or sometimes out of boredom. The show can surprise (I really liked an award show parody that came out a few years ago), but nothing has come to even approach the greatness of the Golden Age.
And if there was a moment where The Simpsons stopped being The Simpsons, it was “The Principal and the Pauper,” one of the show’s most infamous episodes. In it, we discover that Principal Skinner isn’t actually the real Skinner but Armin Tamzarian, who fought under Skinner in the Vietnam War. When Skinner’s presumed dead in an explosion, Armin goes to Skinner’s mother, and unwilling to tell her of his death, says that he’s Skinner. But then the real Skinner returns (voiced by Martin Sheen), and then things get ugly…
The real problem with this is that the show would do that to Skinner. The Simpsons cared about its characters, and wouldn’t do anything heartless like that. In just one episode, they wiped away one character whom they spent years creating and expanding. Harry Shearer, who voices Skinner, said ,”you’re taking something that an audience has built eight years or nine years of investment in and just tossed it in the trash can for no good reason, for a story we’ve done before with other characters. It’s so arbitrary and gratuitous, and it’s disrespectful to the audience.”
After that episode, The Simpsons became worse. The show tried to do anything for a laugh, and forgot all the heart all the earlier episodes had. We cared about the characters, no matter how many times Homer strangled Bart. That’s why we loved the show in the first place. But sadly, The Simpsons will never be seen as the show which changed TV but the show that’s still on air.