The Importance of The Simpsons in Modern Television

The Importance of The Simpsons in Modern Television

The Simpsons, an American television show that has aired for over three decades with 722 episodes broadcast across 33 seasons, is the longest-running scripted American primetime show. One wonders why our favorite yellow family remained relevant for so long. This is because of the sitcom formula. The sitcom formula is based on a television series that features a recurring cast of characters in a series of comedic situations: situation comedy, lame, and formulaic sitcoms, all propelled by an overly insistent laugh track. The Simpsons began as a modern version of The Flintstones— a 1960s primetime cartoon that followed the same sitcom formula set in the Stone Age. Despite using the same formula, the show has seen significantly greater success than The Flintstones and has continued to be aired since its debut in 1989. The Simpsons continuously modernizes themselves by incorporating pop culture and remaining relatable. Their reliance on a familial structure and adoption of common cultural references truly distinguishes the show.

The Simpsons could also attract American viewers by retaining some of the original sitcom formulae. Regardless, the show’s most important aspect is its references to pop culture, for they keep its comedy up to date. Since the third season aired from 1991 to 1992, The Simpsons have achieved high ratings, arguably making its comedy the best of the decade.   

The Simpsons was the first animation designed for adults and kids because its edgy and casual humor allows dark jokes, only understandable to an older audience. In addition, pop culture and allusions to childhood in the form of advertisements, arcade computer games, and pop songs make the show influential because they evoke vivid memories. And, yes, if you’re a Graded high schooler watching early Simpsons episodes, you can find all the references with a quick Google search. Finally, because of the show’s easy-to-consume humor, which attracts audiences from all over the world and of all ages, the generational gap is almost nonexistent, which means that an adult and their child can watch the show together.

The Simpsons franchise has had a long and successful run. They have a large cast of characters and what appears to be an endless number of plots. Because the characters are all animated, actors’ aging is not an issue. As of 2018, The Simpsons is owned by 21st Century Fox, the current parent company of The Fox Broadcasting Company (FBC). The ratings remain high, and as an owned show, 21st Century Fox makes all of its money from foreign and domestic syndication on local television and through FX and FxX. The Simpsons have made more money than Marvel’s The Avengers licensing over the last decade through licensing agreements for toys, games, action figures, theme parks, and food and beverages that rival any other franchise. In addition, the Simpsons have no age gap, making the show so marketable and popular amongst adults, teenagers, and children alike. 

The Simpsons modernized television by inventing a new animation genre that inspired other animations, such as Rick and Morty, Family Guy, and Futurama. Most definitely, The Simpsons will be remembered as one of the most influential shows of the twenty-first century.