The Simpsons first aired in December of 1989. This means that as of now The Simpsons has touched four decades, and nearly 3 generations have grown up not knowing a world where The Simpsons didn’t exist. It has become a television institution.
The thought of the true longevity of the show never occurred to me until recently. After the passing of Elizabeth Taylor, Fox reran “Lisa’s First Word”, an episode that first aired in 1992 and featured a flashback to the 1984 Olympics. So now, here in 2011 we are watching an episode that in itself is 19 years old with a flashback going back another 8 years. So, we have jokes that are older than most of the audience that Fox is aiming for with it’s primetime animation block.
I don’t want to come across as your typical internet fanboy whining about this and that. I still loyally watch The Simpsons every week, enjoying it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: A bad Simpsons episode is by far superior to a good episode of much other drivel on TV. It’s easy for people to simply say, “Oh, it’s not as good as it used to be” That’s not what I’m talking about here. I think the writing is just as good as it has been, but it has taken a turn in a different direction in the last ten years.
Changes are to be expected. For a show that has been on for nearly 500 episodes, you can’t keep just doing the same thing over and over again. Writer’s have come and gone, trends have come and gone and come back, and numerous imitators both successful and unsuccessful have attempted to capture that same lightning in there bottles.
When you talk about cancellation, you have to ask the question: is it better to leave on your own terms when you are still on top or to go out after you have jumped the shark and lost all of the quality that made you a hit?
The next big question is, do we really want to live in a world with no new Simpsons episodes? I’m not sure I want to…