The Simpsons has been on the air for over 30 years now. Against all odds, the show that began as a series of animated shorts on an iffy sketch show on a then-fledgling new network became a pop culture sensation that has resonated with generations of viewers for the past three decades.
However, it’s no secret that the series has shown signs of its age in the last few years, unable to keep up with today’s comic sensibility or recapture its former glory. Here are 5 Reasons The Simpsons Should Be Cancelled (And 5 Why It Should Stay On The Air).
Let’s be honest with ourselves. As much as we might rag on the later seasons of The Simpsons, we’d all miss it if it went off the air. It might not be as great as it once was, and it might never reach those heights of greatness again, but if the show was canceled and the reality set in that we would never get to see Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, or Maggie again, we’d be pretty sad.
We’d have the old seasons to rewatch, but the fact that the show is still on the air keeps the magic of Springfield alive in our hearts. We see this as a real place filled with real people. None of us really want to see it go.
The Simpsons hasn’t been truly great since around season 9 or season 10, and it’s now past season 30. It’s actually been meh and leaning towards unwatchable for twice as long as it was the best thing on television.
Right now, we still remember that it was once a great show, but if it doesn’t end sooner or later, it’ll be forever remembered as a show that went on for decades and, on the whole, wasn’t very good. No one wants to look back on The Simpsons as a bad show, but at a certain point, that is what will happen.
In the late ‘80s, when The Simpsons began airing, the Fox network was the new kid on the block and industry experts were doubting its chances of success and longevity. It was only when The Simpsons hit and became genuine competition for ratings titans like The Cosby Show that those experts began to take Fox seriously.
The network would have more hits in later years, like The X-Files and That ‘70s Show and the countless Simpsons rip-offs they ordered, but it all started with everyone’s favorite Springfieldianite family. So, for Fox to cancel it would be a disservice to its roots.
The landmark Fox/Disney merger that gave Marvel Studios the X-Men also gave Disney the rights to The Simpsons. Yeardley Smith, who plays Lisa Simpson on the show, has said that things don’t look great after the deal and the next two years, while the show is still under contract with Fox, will be “a stopgap” between the Fox tenure and the Disney tenure.
Smith explained, “When you’re dealing with something that is still so culturally relevant, and sort of such a pillar of our culture, if you’re going to mess with that, that’s some pretty risky territory. So, my feeling is – and I could be completely wrong – is that they would cancel it before they would change it [creatively].”
“The 1,000 Episode Club” is a colloquial term used in the media to describe the exclusive group of TV shows that managed to stay on the air for over 1,000 episodes. The Simpsons’ last milestone was its 600th episode, with the 700th due to air in its upcoming 32nd season (the second of two upcoming seasons that were ordered by Fox before the Disney merger).
It’s just a few years away. It’s already the longest-running scripted primetime series in the history of American television. The staff have come this far, so they might as well see their quirky little creation through to episode 1,000.
A show being faced with controversy is one thing, but the show’s creators responding to that controversy in increasingly cringe-inducing ways is quite another.
When comedian Hari Kondabolu’s documentary The Problem with Apu pointed out the racist implications of a white voice actor playing Apu, a stereotypical Indian character, on The Simpsons, Matt Groening’s tone-deaf response pointed out why the behind-the-times show should be canceled: “I’m proud of what we do on the show. And I think it’s a time in our culture where people love to pretend they’re offended.” The way the show itself dealt with it, with an on-the-nose meta reference to it, was even worse.
If The Simpsons keeps going, then fans will continue to be disappointed, but they’ll be disappointed by an ongoing thing. If you don’t like an episode, there’s another one next week. If you don’t like that one, there’s another one the week after.
But if the show ends, then the staff will have to come up with a series finale episode to conclude the story, and there is simply no way that such an episode could satisfy a single viewer. Series finales tend to disappoint if they air in season 9, let alone season 32. Even the writers’ very best efforts couldn’t live up to that hype. It’s not worth it.
Any show that has been on the air for so long that it betrays its characters for gimmicks should be canceled. Now, The Simpsons’ writers just come up with episodes and storylines that they think will make a good headline or promo and get the fans who abandoned the show a long time ago to tune back in.
They’ll do an episode where Homer and Marge finally break up or an episode where Sideshow Bob finally gets to kill Bart, or let the fans decide which two characters should get married (they eventually settled on Ned Flanders and Edna Krabappel). It’s like a TV form of clickbait and it’s completely disingenuous.
The Simpsons might not be as socially or culturally relevant as it once was, but it’s still a huge part of our culture. Every year, the show offers up its unique take on current events – Elon Musk, fracking, virtual reality, eSports – and it would be a shame to see that go.
Even if the show isn’t brilliant anymore, we’ve been used to seeing its sharp take on current events for three decades now. If a topic is Simpsified or a public figure is given yellow skin and an overbite, that’s how we know it’s something to pay attention to.
Comedy is ever-evolving. The Marx brothers’ silent comedies inspired the politically incorrect spoofs of Mel Brooks, which inspired the zany, postmodern antics, surreal animation, and satirical edge of The Simpsons. The formula established by The Simpsons has since evolved into cult hits Family Guy and Futurama, and from there, it has evolved into today’s greats: BoJack Horseman, Rick and Morty, F is for Family.
The Simpsons had an inordinate influence on all of these shows, but comedy has evolved beyond the innovations it made. The humor of newer Simpsons episodes feels forced and dated, and there’s a reason for that.