Thursday, 18 December 2014

Homer Simpson Turns 25

Yesterday (17 December) marked the 25th anniversary of the television show "The Simpsons," which debuted on the Fox network on 17.12.1989.

25 years is a long time.  It's about 60 per cent of my life thus far (I was home from college on my freshman-year Christmas break).  Of course, the actual Simpsons had premiered a couple of years earlier as a short on "The Tracy Ulman Show," but the yellow family of five got their permanent spot a bit later.

I'm a big fan of the show, and I am not the least bit embarrassed to admit that virtually every day, I use a quote, a metaphor, or an allusion to it.

Longevity is one of the big advantages to having an animated cast - Bart Simpson was 10 in 1989, he remains 10, even if the gap between his age and that of the woman (!) who voices his character grows wider each year.

To put things into perspective, the top rated shows of the 1989-1990 season included "The Cosby Show," "Roseanne," "Cheers," "The Golden Girls."  and "The Wonder Years."  The last of these was a drama set in 1968 about a young teen, played by Fred Savage.  I later had Savage as a college student in one of the sections I led as graduate student at Stanford.  Savage is on the edge of middle-age now, the love interest of the show was portrayed by Danica McKellar who for a while became a mathematician and has a proof named for her.

The era portrayed in "The Wonder Years" was only 20 years prior to when the show itself was on the air - five years less than the gap between the launch of "The Simpsons" and today.

Put another way, if one were to look at the shows that were in the top ratings 25 years before Homer and his family appeared - 1964 - they include "Bonanza," "Gomer Pyle, USMC," "The Andy Griffith Show," and "The Red Skelton Hour."

In the arc of history, the Simpsons contains jokes about George Bush, Bill Clinton, George W Bush, and Barack Obama.  There are references to Nirvana, The Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day, Lollapalooza, Lady Gaga, and Taylor Swift.  In my own life, it's been on for college, graduate school, my first real job, my marriage, the birth of my first son, moves from California to New Jersey to Paris, and my own son becoming old enough to tune in to watch.

Time magazine in 2000 voted "The Simpsons" as the best show of the millenium.

Call Mr Plow, that's my name.  That name again is Mr Plow.

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