Let’s get this out of the way – I’m old enough to remember the Simpsons on the Tracey Ullman show. I remember the short clips with the messy animation and the not-yet-familiar vocal stylings. And I remember watching the first episode, all those years ago, when Homer brought home Santa’s Little Helper (or as he’s later know, Santos L. Halper) making that first Christmas a joyous, if dog track filled, one.
Fast forward 23 odd seasons and I’m still watching.
It hasn’t been easy, I’ll say that. Oh sure, it was easy during the dizzying seasons of “Homer’s Enemy” when Frank “Grimey”Grimes made his debut and shortly after his exit, of “The Cartridge Family” which introduced the phrase “5 days? But I’m mad now!” into the cultural lexicon, and of “Lisa the Vegetarian” which taught us all the important lesson that you don’t win friends with salad. Who knew?
But what about anything from the past 10 years? The Poochification of the Simpsons has reached lows that no one saw coming. At least no one with a heart. It got to the point where my brother started teasing me that because I was the only one still watching the Simpsons, advertisers just tailored all the commercials just to me.
Despite the ridicule and the mockery, I hung on during these dark years. Every Sunday – or later in the week once the DVR was created – I would sit down with my tomacco and Krusty burger, and settle in for half hour of half-hearted chuckles and strained guffaws. I watched because I was afraid I would miss out when the show started becoming funny again. Because I knew it would happen.
And finally, finally this season, things started looking up. I started laughing, really laughing, not just a mild “heh” every so often to prove it was funny. It was honestly funny. I still have “The Book Job” on my DVR for rewatching.
So when the 500th episode and all it’s marketed glory came around, I was excited, hopeful even. The episode began with a quick trip through every couch gag since the start. I’m not ashamed to say, I teared up a smidge. Though the episode that followed wasn’t all the funny or all that memorable, I was reminded of how long this show has been in my life. Through high school, college, post-college and beyond. Through boyfriends, break-ups, and rebounds. Through hellish jobs and even more hellish unemployment. In Los Angeles, Israel, New York, back to LA, back to NY, back again to LA, another round-trip crosscountry, and now to Boston. This show has been a part of my life longer than most people and more reliable than most as well.
I formed friendships quoting Homer. I sat around and traded quotes with my brothers on lazy Saturday afternoons. I assuaged a broken heart laughing at Troy Maclure’s unhealthy relationships with fish. I anchored my weekend by making sure I was home at 8 pm so I could watch the latest antics of Springfield’s favorite family.
So because of the memories, because of the good times and the bad, and because it gave us the all purpose toast “To alcohol, the cause of and solution to all life’s problems”, I wish the Simpsons a happy 500th episode and here’s to another 500 more.
No. I take that back. Maybe another season. And another movie.
But that’s it.