One of the unspoken rules was that we didn’t know where the Springfield from The Simpsons really resided. It could Massachusetts, Oregon, Illinois…or nowhere.
And creator Matt Groening always said he wouldn’t tell us where it was, if indeed it was somewhere real. People became so obsessed with finding this out, it became a joke on the show (“the state that Springfield is in” anyone?). Anytime we saw a map, we never saw where Springfield fell on said map. It was an ongoing joke.
So when it was announced today that in an interview in Smithsonian magazine, Groening revealed where Springfield really was…it shook me up a bit. And let me down.
The place that is home to Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, Maggie, Mr. Burns, Smithers, Stupid Flanders, Rod, Tod, Edna, Grandpa, Patty, Selma, Troy McClure, Lenny, Carl, Dr. Nick – basically the cast of characters who have been with me since I was in high school – isn’t some magical happy land existing only in our imaginations and yes, in our heart. It’s in Oregon.
You know the one. Near Portland. ‘K.
This is Groening response when asked why the town was named Springfield:
Springfield was named after Springfield, Oregon. The only reason is that when I was a kid, the TV show “Father Knows Best” took place in the town of Springfield, and I was thrilled because I imagined that it was the town next to Portland, my hometown. When I grew up, I realized it was just a fictitious name. I also figured out that Springfield was one of the most common names for a city in the U.S. In anticipation of the success of the show, I thought, “This will be cool; everyone will think it’s their Springfield.” And they do.
I get it. I really do. What better way to make the show that much more universal than have everything think that Springfield was the town just a few towns over. We could all be just a short ride away from Moe’s.
But I loved not knowing. I loved having all these crazy antics occurring in a bubble of sorts, in a town that could be next door, but really was anywhere. And now that magic is kinda gone. Which is sad.
Of course the interview is more than just the reveals. Groening talks about how the show comes from his family, which any true fan knows, and I think, hints just a bit at a dissatisfaction with the current show:
How typical is the Simpsons’ home of an American home? How has it changed?
I think what’s different is that Marge doesn’t work. She’s a stay-at-home mother and housewife, and for the most parts these days both parents work. So I think that’s a little bit of a throwback. Very early on we had the Simpsons always struggling for money, and as the show has gone on over the years we’ve tried to come up with more surprising and inventive plots. We’ve pretty much lost that struggling for money that we started with just in order to do whatever crazy high jinks we could think of. I kind of miss that.
We miss that too. Do we really need such crazy high jinks all the time or can the show go back to just being damned funny without losing itself in unnecessary wackiness?
I’m sure it’s just me, but I feel that now that we know where Springfield is, the end could be nigh. The mystery is gone and things should start winding down. No more wackiness, no more plots that start out of nothing and go nowhere. It’s time.
To help us remember Springfield in its heyday…