Starting off as animated shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show, The politically incorrect American family officially made their television debut on December 17, 1989 and the long-running cartoon has been a huge part of television since. For over 30 years, Bart, Homer, Marge, Maggie, and Lisa have made audiences laugh, cry, sing or pull out their saxophones with Bleeding Gums Murphy. Thus far, The Simpsons have a grand total (as of this writing) of 706 episodes over a span of 34 seasons. However, there’s no denying that the animated series has covered every topic that is to script on the long-running show. Topics that cover Homer being a lazy and inattentive father. Check. Or Bart’s bad behavior in school? definitely. Or even topics about Lisa feeling like an outcast within her family or school. Don’t make me laugh. It’s been done. I could go on and on about the abundance of subjects that The Simpsons have covered.
Now, I’m not a Simpsons aficionado, I’m just a long-time viewer of this once-great show. This article isn’t to condemn the series as The Simpsons is far from a bad one; however, it’s definitely a stale one. The core problem about The Simpsons is that nothing ever truly changes. Yes, most tend to have life lessons incorporated within; however, Homer is always going to be the lazy and inattentive beer-drinking bastard. Marge will continue to be the loving and supporting wife who’s pretty much the glue that holds that family together. Bart is always going to be the rebellious 10-year-old trouble maker and Lisa the 8-year-old intellectual sister of her annoying brother. Every now and then the role changes for an episode or two, but by the seasons’ end, everyone is back to the roles that made the show so popular.
Now, The Simpsons aren’t Avatar: The Last Airbender, where Aang goes from being a fun, yet often immature kid into a mature and wise bender who happens to be the ruler of the world. And it isn’t trying to be. Avatar’s story had a beginning, middle, and end, something that The Simpsons is sorely lacking. Now I’m now advocating that Matt Groening and his creative start creating an endgame for the series, though I do think it’s important that the show mixes up series a little. My idea? Have the characters grow a little. Bart and Lisa could be in middle school, while Maggie is in elementary. Doing this gives an opportunity to tell fresher stories and introduce new characters. Ralph, Nelson, Milhouse, and even Principal Skinner can transfer to the same school, though the different environment could make for some interesting dynamic changes.
And Homer and Marge? Their characters could grow a little too. Whether Homer becomes wiser (which won’t happen) or even lazier, there’s funny and fresher scenarios with their character and environment evolution. I’m not asking for Matt Groening to go bonkers and change everything about The Simpsons. Keep the core and supporting cast, along with the style, and tone that has made the show one of the best to grace the television landscape. But the “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it approach” can only last for so long. I understand that in general, animation rarely changes. South Park, Family Guy, and American Dad have the same issues as The Simpsons, though none of those animated shows have been on the air for over 30 years, so the utter staleness of their characters isn’t completely there. Though South Park and Family Guy are close behind since they made their debuts in the 90s.
I also understand that The Simpsons is more of a situational comedy. As previously stated, it’s not going for the type of storytelling that’s highly regarded in the Avatar series. That’s actually perfectly fine because there’s nothing wrong with the show’s brand of humor or style. Matt Groening and his creatives have done what they can with the series, and while I doubt the successful creator will ever listen to a nobody with no credits in television writing, hopefully, he understands that change can be a good thing. It’s time for The Simpsons to evolve, or else audiences will keep dwindling as the years go by. After all, there’s a reason that the show has gone from 14.7 million viewers in the early 2000s to less than 5 million. The once-lucrative franchise could end getting the ax for good if the numbers keep falling.