Dazzling Knowledge

Monday, June 09, 2008

Tpotdomescandal's Top 10 TV Shows

#1 The Simpsons

Of course it’s The Simpsons. I’ve had entire conversations that consisted of Simpsons quotes and allusions. I made a t-shirt with a hand-drawing of Chief Wiggum, featuring quotes such as, “Oh my God! Somebody’s taken a bite out of the giant rice krispie square!” I went to a taping of Late Night with Conan O’Brien because I was a fan of his work as a writer during the glory days of The Simpsons. The Simpsons had it all: the dizzying highs, the terrifying lows, the creamy middles. The Simpsons taught us a lot about life: “A woman is a lot like a refrigerator. Six feet tall, 300 pounds, makes ice. Actually, a woman is more like a beer. She looks good. She smells good. You’d step over your own mother to get one. And once you have one woman you can’t stop. You gotta have another woman, and another… gulp gulp gulp.”

One thing I like to point out about The Simpsons is the surprising pervasiveness of religion. Really I think that it is one of the underappreciated reasons the show is such a unique look at family in America, which is a uniquely religious country. Characters pray regularly. They go to church. Lisa converted to Buddhism. The conservative Christian neighbors, the Flanders, are major characters. There was a whole show devoted to Bart’s soul. God and the Devil have made multiple appearances. We’ve seen heaven (Ben Franklin and Jimi Hendrix playing ping-pong), and hell (an unsuccessful attempt to overfeed Homer with doughnuts in the ironic punishment division). Krusty’s Judaism and Apu’s Hinduism have been featured. There was an episode in which Bart and Homer briefly were Catholics. The Flanders are an interesting case in themselves. Frankly, they may be the most sympathetic portrayal of evangelical Christians in popular culture. Yes, they are portrayed as odd, and are often the brunt of jokes, but so is everyone else on the Simpsons. In most popular portrayals of conservative Christians, they must be shown to be intolerant, or hypocrites, or secret sinners, or just plain the Bad Guys. The Flanders are portrayed as earnest righteous people who really would give you their shirts after you stole their coats.

While The Simpsons has been criticized by morons in the media as crass and base, it’s actually intelligent and warm. I get a little choked up at the end of “And Maggie Makes Three,” when we see all the pictures of Maggie covering letters to turn “Don’t forget, you’re here forever” to “Do it for her.” I could give other examples, but I don’t want anyone to think I’m a wuss.

The Simpsons doesn’t really have an anti-government message, but they do as good a job criticizing government as anybody. Joe Quimby, a walking catchall parody of local government, Democrats, and Kennedys, is summarized by Birch Barlow, himself a parody of conservative talk radio: “our six-term mayor - the illiterate, tax-cheating, wife-swapping, pot-smoking spendocrat: Diamond Joe Quimby.”

I defy you to find a sport not featured in The Simpsons. Jai alai is a good guess, but Homer references betting on Jai alai in the Caiman Islands after discovering the internet.


Blogger nonviolentjay said...

I was listening to a Simpsons CD over the weekend, and I also noticed how their political and social comedy was prescient. Paraphrasinging the Schoolhouse Rock parody, If you wanted to make a law against flagburning, that would be unconstitutional, but if we change the Constitution, "We could make all kinds of crazy laws!" (Patriot Act?) Also Bart yearns for another Vietnam to thin the ranks of Gen-Xers. (Iraq?)
Not to mention the fact that the Simpsons movie elected Governor Schwarzenegger before California did.

8:43 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home