April 19, 2017
Yes, we’re in deep d’oh now: The Simpsons’ thirty years of literary joshing
by Melville House
¡Ay, caramba! Hard to believe it, but today’s the thirtieth anniversary of the first-ever broadcast of The Simpsons! And you, since you’re reading this and are thus a person of great taste and refinement, love The Simpsons.
Let’s begin at the beginning. Here’s that first-ever broadcast, from April 19, 1987, when Marge, Homer, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie were little more than twitchy stick-figures bookending commercial breaks on the third-ever episode of the Tracy Ullman Show.
The Tracy Ullman Show, which offered the comedic talents of its twenty-seven-year-old star to Bush I-era America between punchy musical numbers choreographed by Paula Abdul, was not a massive hit. But the yellow cartoon family who popped up increasingly often throughout its episodes were. In December 1989, the Simpsons got their own standalone Christmas special, which doubled as a pilot; the pilot was picked up, and the show is now in its twenty-eighth season, with more than 600 episodes under its belt. Time magazine named it the best TV show of the twentieth century, which is something of an understatement.
It’s also, maybe, the smartest thing that’s ever been on TV, or at least the most literate. And so, without further ado, with endless gratitude to the huge team of dedicated folks who make it possible, here are some of The Simpsons’ greatest literary moments.
Never quit, guys. You are, quite seriously, the absolute best.