The answers to life's problems aren't at the bottom of a bottle, they're on TV, says a great philosopher of our time

They've made fun of their elders, teachers and authority figures. They've eaten doughnuts at work. Even caused a nuclear meltdown at their workplace but been rehired with a raise. And all this with the added benefit of not aging!

The Simpsons reached a historic milestone of a whopping 500 episodes last month, making its way into the record books and, no doubt, our lives.

Motley crew

Centred on the lives of a typical — perhaps even stereotypical — middle-class family in the fictional town of Springfields in the United States of America, The Simpsons tells the tales of Lisa, the overachieving student, Bart, the teenage troublemaker, Marge, the doting mother and Homer, the father who is both selfish and loving, and lovable.

With biting humour and delightful wit, the episodes marvellously entwine current events, people and culture in all its 23 seasons. In keeping with the tradition of featuring celebrity characters and voices, none other than Wikileaks founder Julian Assange joined the family for the landmark 500th episode.

With jibes at presidential elections, snide remarks about the outsourcing of jobs to India and even unapologetic religious satire, the sitcom created by Matt Groening is a reflection of American society and increasingly, a depiction of a multi-cultural, global, middle-class family. After all, who doesn't want to shun their duties and head straight to the bar after work?

Global appeal

In more than just humorous ways though, this show has weaved its way into the lives of its viewers around the world.

With “d'oh” and “meh” now an inescapable part of modern dictionaries and daily conversation, the extent of the show's influences is remarkable.

“I find myself saying, ‘As Homer would say…', which is a tad worrying. But they're such real characters, no masks, no pretence. They're pretty much me on TV,” says Aditi Singh, a long time fan and self-proclaimed honorary Simpson family member.

Unabashed mockery

Despite the criticism of its politically incorrect comments and mockery of events, people and even religion, the show still has a massive and loyal fan base.

Perhaps the reason for its seemingly timeless popularity, is that the characters say what we feel and do what we'd like to, had we not been bound by social restraints.

Mario Jerome, head of business relations at 1st December Studios says, “It's absurd and detached in so many ways. Yet, I see myself and can relate to the subjects of the show, all this while enjoying some intelligent comedy.”

It would appear that somewhere in this adult animation, full of surreal and often vulgar depictions of contemporary times, is the truth of life and existing society. And there really isn't much that cannot be summed up with a dialogue from arguably the greatest philosopher of our time — Homer Jay Simpson: “The answer to life's problems aren't at the bottom of a bottle, they're on TV!”


Couch Potato March 9, 2011