The Simpsons, believe it or not, premiered on FOX on December 17, 1989. That’s right, you didn’t read that wrong; that’s nearly thirty years ago! The Simpsons, along with their fellow Springfield inhabitants, are still at it and nonetheless, going strong. This means there are people who don’t know a world without the Simpsons in it and some are even too young to have even seen the first season. Either way, let’s take a look back at the very first season to reveal 5 things you didn’t know about the Simpsons Season 1.
1. The Pilot Wasn’t The Introduction
First of all, the first episode wasn’t the first time we’d been introduced to the Simpsons: Homer, Marge, Lisa, Maggie, and, of course, Bart. The Simpsons actually began on The Tracey Ullman Show all the way back in 1987 as sharply-drawn animated bumpers. Matt Groening, the Simpsons’ creator, shaped the family after his own.
2. The Pilot Wasn’t The Pilot
Let me explain. The pilot was originally supposed to be the episode entitled “Some Enchanted Evening” where the Simpsons kids’ babysitter turns out to be a burglar and was scheduled to air in September of 1989. However, issues with animation pushed the premiere further into winter, all the way into December of that same year. Instead of starting the series off with the initially planned pilot, the eight episode, entitled “Simpsons Roasting On An Open Fire” aired as the series pilot/Christmas special on December 17, 1989.
In addition, part of the show’s Christmas pageant, “Santas of many lands” was also inspired by something in creator’s Matt Groening’s life, a report on Christmas in Russia he did in second grade and just for a bit of trivia, some incorrectly credit this first episode with the creation of Jingle Bells’ alternative version which says, Jingle Bells, Batman Smells, Robin Laid an Egg.” The show did not create the altered version.
3. Primetime Showtime
Since the Flintstones went off the air a whopping twenty-three years earlier, the Simpsons was only the second animated series to be aired in Primetime. Furthermore, the idea for the show began under the influence of alcohol! According to James L Brooks, the show’s executive producer, the Simpsons began when an animator got drunk at a Christmas party. Obviously they were already doing The Tracey Ullman Show and Brooks says that an animator, David Silverman, who would end up direction The Simpsons Movie, got him in a corner at the party, pouring his heart out about the idea of having a Simpsons Primetime show and what it would mean to the other animators. Many successful years later, I bet Brooks is mighty happy he listened to Silverman.
4. Difference of Roles
Lisa was initially supposed to be a “little hell-raiser” just like Bart, but as the Simpsons went to a full series, Bart’s and Lisa’s character differentiation got wider and wider. However, one thing that was set out for Lisa in the pilot episode that would be an ongoing theme was the fact that nobody really “gets” her. In the Christmas special, Lisa dances as the Santa of the South Seas, Towanga, staging a fire-juggling act, weirding out the audience. At least somethings stayed the same!
5. Winner From The First Season
The Simpsons has been a winner ever since that fateful first season. The show was Fox network’s first television series to be included in the season’s top thirty highest ranking shows. Furthermore, that first season won an Emmy Award, also receiving four additional nominations. Because the pilot was also considered a separate special, both it and “Life on the Fast Lane” were nominated for Outstanding Animated Program, with the latter winning the award. In addition, the main theme song which was composed by Danny Elfman, was nominated for an Emmy as well.
It’s no doubt that the Simpsons have enjoyed almost a long, successful life, but it’s crazy to think it’s been almost thirty years since that first episode. Talk about binge-watching, how long do you think it would take to watch all of the Simpsons since it began to now? You better have one giant bowl of popcorn, that’s for sure!