Why I hate The Simpsons

With The Simpsons movie in theaters, and every fucking 7-11 converted into a massive walk-in advertisement for the show, I have finally decided to speak out about why I have hated this overrated, overquoted TV show for 17 years.

When The Simpsons debuted on Fox back in 1990, I was primed to love it. I’d been reading Groening’s stuff in alt.weeklies for years, and was into the idea of an indie cartoonist making it big on what passed for an indie network at that time. But as the action unfolded that season, I grew depressed, then angry.

I was watching yet another network TV show that gave us yuks by lampooning a working class family full of stupid men and smart-but-indulgent women. This was the era when the show Roseanne was going full-blast, and I loved it because we finally had a working-class comedy where the characters dealt with real-life problems (not being able to pay bills), weren’t the butt of the show’s jokes (instead, they made the jokes), and didn’t fit known stereotypes (one daughter, Darlene, was a comic book geek).

On The Simpsons, however, the characters are nothing but stereotype. They’re practically Pyncheonesque in their emptiness — not people, but objects who get driven through various pastiches in order to become the butt of the audience’s arch, ironic jokes. I didn’t give a shit about any of them. The only way I could enjoy these characters was to say, “Haha look at the funny dumb poor people who are so incredibly stupid that they actually work at nuclear power plants.”

Problem is, I actually don’t find that funny.

Yes, it’s true that there’s one rich guy on the show, Mr. Burns, who is also the butt of jokes, but let’s face it: the whole point of The Simpsons is to let us have our postmodern Archie Bunker in the character of Homer, and quote all the moronic things he says to our media-savvy, smarty-smart friends.

The Simpsons feels like an early 1970s show wrapped up in a form of Gen X knee-jerk irony that was hip 17 years ago and hasn’t been funny since The Daily Show rewrote the rules for U.S. TV satire. So now there’s nothing left about The Simpsons that’s interesting anymore: not only do we have the same old recycled “blue collar idiot” jokes that mainstream comedy has provided for at least 100 years, but they’re told in a satirical style that’s about as fresh as a Sonic Youth album.

30 thoughts on “Why I hate The Simpsons

  1. Well, yeah, but…it makes me laugh occasionally.

    What can I say…I’m easily amused. I have to be. 😛

  2. Pingback: Embiggening the Lexicon « Citizen Arnold

  3. its not his cartoons fault that fat sack of crap matt groening has turned from every day funny stuff with the simpsons family to every episode has to do wiht some kind of church or god or jesus BASHING all that this is doing is makeing the world a not so good place to live in cause if you take a gods love and pervert to a joke and convince the kids of the world its not real then theres nothing left but ahole in ther soul and it gets filled with greed lust hate and nothing good can come from it.so if you gonig to reach all these people dont try to warp their minds against THE LORD AND SAVIOR OF ALL MAN KIND JESUS THE CHIRST.PS ASK FOR FORGIVENESS AND TRULEY MEAN IT AND YOU WILL BE SAVED.

  4. It’s just a cartoon! I hear this a lot (your rant) from other people and when I ask what they are expecting out of this show its no wonder you say what you say. The story lines themselves are just there to run the episode. There are so many little details and referrences within the show that have nothing to do with the sotoryline. That is what make this such a great show. If you have ever watch the old Looney Tunes its the same thing. The movie sucked!

  5. I can see your point Annalee, but frankly, I think your initial aversion to The Simpsons caused you to miss some of the more deft and pithy jabs at all tiers of our society (see the Episode, “When You Dish Upon A Star”). And with all due respect, I think your impression of the brand of humor is just as dated, as well: while anything after Season 8 or so is kinda awful, in it’s prime, The Simpsons was the smartest humor around. The ‘kneejerk hip irony’ that you decry as so dated now (and it is) is a direct ancestor is Colbert and his ilk. Harold Lloyd seems a bit dated, too, but that doesn’t make it any less important.

  6. Sorry to take that swipe at Sonic Youth. It was just a little anti-early-1990s-hipster carryover.

    @Joe — I’m not arguing that The Simpsons wasn’t funny or smart — I’m just saying the funny smartness came at the expense of its characters, and that those characters were irritating stereotypes of working class people. Also, Harold Lloyd doesn’t feel as dated to me as The Simpsons do. Maybe that’s because his humor is slapstick rather than verbal satire.

  7. The Simpsons peaked somewhere between seasons 3-5 and 8-9. Many of the early episodes were pretty rough around the edges, and for the last 10 years it’s just been slapstick comedy – and not particularly good slapstick at that.

    But in those middle years it was simply brilliant social satire and intelligent comedy.

    It was satirizing a lot of things. Part of it was the the American family. But mostly, it was satirizing the TV “family sitcoms” of it’s time (like Roseanne) and the view of reality those shows presented.

    I think you have a point – it did focus on a working class family and the dumb dad stereotype which fueled a lot of the jokes* – but it is a show that truly targeted everything. Religion, politics, people, philosophy, the media – it was truly a commentary on the human condition of the mid-90’s. And more often than not, the working class comes out looking good, even if Homer himself is portrayed as an idiot.

    The movie sucked. But those years will always have a treasured spot on my DVD shelf.

    *But not all the jokes in those years. It’s also famous for it’s math and geek humor. Just look at how many Simpsons quotes are memes on Slashdot.

  8. as i read your thingie i got the feeling you dont like me. so i decided to write somthing about you.

    Dear Mr. Stupid(thats you) i happened to have resently read your artical about me and i couldnt help but notice a faint hatred for me. if you hate me then that makes you stupid. stupid!

    ps your stupid.

  9. is this that new restraunt where you type in what you want? cause if so id like 2 cheese burgers please. no wait make that 12. no, 4 … 5 … 2 … 1. actually i think ill have a hot dog

  10. Didn’t Matt Groening base the Simpson family on his own? If he grew up working class you can’t really give him a ton of shit for making the Simpson family conform to his life experiences.

    Was he supposed to make them a bunch of yuppies, Mormons, or transsexuals instead?

  11. The fact that you like Roseanne completely nullifies your opinion in any way, shape or form.

  12. I TOTALLY agree with you! When the show first started, I was a huge Simpsons fan, but now it’s like the characters developed into nothing. They’re really one dimensional and sterotypical. With the new seasons, the show’s just been getting more and more redundant, and I care about what happens to the characters, or objects, less and less.

  13. The Simpsons is unwatchable. Half an hour of bright yellow, ultra annoying nasally whining & a steady stream of “liberal” platitudes.

  14. I agree.When I was little, the Simpsons were OK, but now they are just stupid. The so called “jokes” aren’t funny and it tries way to hard. The entire show has like one good joke that I can still laugh to, but I can’t remember it

  15. i absolutely hate the simpsons they’ve been on too long.. they need to make room for shows like south park and family guy. the simpsons did evey fucking possible thing there is to do in a show i hope matt groening dies or something…… south park is the best cartoon on air then family and way at the bottom after spongebob is the simpsons

  16. The Simpsons suck! Not in the slightest bit funny. I wish I controlled the tv stations around here coz that show would be banned!! It’s mindless garbage, for mindless kids and even more mindless adults. Give me Family Guy and American Dad any day! Now that’s some funny shit!

  17. The simpsons has contained gags that have made me laugh harder than when watching any other show, but the bulk of it is, well, weak.