I’m glad to hear, via commenter Anthony, that The Simpsons will be back for two more seasons, though it’s too bad Fox so publicly went after its talent on the way to a renewal. Alan Sepinwill has a nice meditation on the show’s longevity:
It’s comforting to me knowing that there are still new stories involving the citizens of Springfield. They may not be as brilliant as “Marge vs. the Monorail” or “Homer the Heretic,” but the new episodes’ existence also doesn’t somehow invalidate the greatness of the good old days. Even periods when I’ve strongly disliked the show (what some fans refer to as the Jerkass Homer Era) never made me retroactively dislike earlier seasons. Ted Williams and Stan Musial hung around baseball forever, but they were still capable of putting together good-to-great years in their final seasons (Teddy Ballgame famously homered in his last at-bat at Fenway, in a year where he hit 29 home runs and batted .316; Stan the Man hit .330 in his next-to-last season). These last few seasons have given me episodes like “Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind,” “Homer and Lisa Exchange Cross Words,” and even this season’s premiere, which wrung a lot of laughs out of Homer befriending a Jack Bauer-esque former killer played by Kiefer Sutherland. (We also got “The Simpsons Movie,” which came out in 2007 and was a reminder of just how vibrant those characters remained after all these years.) And for those who just wish the show would end already, there’s always been the very simple option of not watching anymore.
Of all the shows I wish I hadn’t missed as a result of my mostly TV-less childhood, The Simpsons is the one I regret most. I’m not sure if my parents bought the hype that Bart was a bad influence or what, but somehow I missed out on the phenomenon, except for glimpses of a spiky-haired cartoon kid in advertisements on my Archie Comics. Is there a show that’s more of a cultural touchstone for my generation? More universally referenced? I had a high school assistant debate coach who, in the days when it was still slightly daring to do so, ripped a lot of Simpsons episodes and showed them to me while we were hanging out in the airport on our ways to various ridiculous locations for tournaments and made up a small part of the gap. But what a blessing would it have been to grow up with Lisa Simpson.