I think I know exactly what the majority of the people reading this interview are saying- "5/10?? What the hell is going on here?! Has this guy lost his mind???!!" I admit, it was quite a difficult rating to give, and not one that I imagine will go down particularly well. But the unfortunate fact about this review is that I can't just look at the show's "Golden Age" when it was widely considered to be one of the funniest television shows ever created, cartoon or otherwise. Nor can I talk about the almost inconceivable plummet in the show's standards over the past five or so years, though God knows I could talk about that for hours. I have to look at the whole series, from the very beginning to where we are now, and take the whole of The Simpsons into account, from the ingenious hilarity of the past to the staggeringly awful quality we have today.
First off, I should make it abundantly clear that to me, The Simpsons, from season one right up until season ten, was one of the funniest television shows ever to air, past, present and I strongly believe future. Creator Matt Groening, together with Sam Simon and James L. Brooks, should be very proud of the work they achieved with them. These seasons are simply incredibly, painfully, blood vessel-burstingly hilarious. Blessed with an incredibly talented and naturally comedic cast, nearly all of whom have stayed committed to the show since its beginning, it has been host to a huge amount of characters who are all brilliantly funny in their own unique, very original way. The jokes range from silly slapstick, all the way through to sharply satirical, and everything in between, and they are nothing short of fantastic. The sheer amount of hilarious quotes and one-liners The Simpsons has in these seasons is nearly unfathomable, and it's not mystery as to why people all over the world can quote them so easily. Truly, they have set the bar for not only television comedy, but comedy on a whole.
As well as this though, it never lost sight of the three-dimension of its characters. What makes it great is that we feel for all of them, and watching it, it never feels as though we're watching a cartoon comedy, because it engrosses us in the stories of the people in it, and because there really is so much depth to the characters and the stories that concern them as well as excellent comedy that they almost feel like real people. This of course is especially in the case of the Simpson family themselves, all of whom are excellent characters in these seasons, who have real emotional reactions and feelings, which makes their short-comings all the more relatable. The ability of the cast to convey these emotions as well as the comedy is remarkable, and has led to some truly touching and poignant moments over the seasons.
Once we move past the end of the tenth season, there is a definite drop in the quality of the show, though not a drastic one. The jokes are a little less funny, the characters somewhat wasted, and the stories aren't quite as intelligent and enjoyable as they used to be, however it is still excellent television and extremely funny. The cast are still as inspired as they always were, and despite the tragic loss of Phil Hartman by this time, which saw the loss of two excellent characters Troy McClure and Lionel Hutz among others, they are still displaying immense talent and understanding of an astronomical amount of characters.
Now, we come to the problem. The reason for the 5/10 rating. A truly heart-breaking moment in television history, because once we reach the fifteenth season, we see the standard of The Simpsons has dived. And it has dived pretty deeply. From this point of the show to where it is today, it's as if we are seeing a different show. The stories are moronic, the jokes are cringingly awful, exchanging intelligence and wit for silliness and humourless exclamations, and the characters are mutilated. The fact the animation has improved only emphasises the change, and all the guest-stars and guest writers in the world can't salvage this shipwreck.
The awful jokes and lack of good stories are bad enough, but the worst problem with The Simpsons today, is that the characters have been ruined. All of them were once three-dimensional, interesting and real, but they are all now nothing but background pictures, opportunities for jokes. And bad ones at that. My answer to the question that everyone asks about The Simpsons is my favourite character (other than Homer) is Sideshow Bob, but even one as hilarious as him can't seem to manage one good joke. The worst offence is of course ruining the Simpsons themselves. It started early on with Marge, who was given terrible jokes and pointless stories, and now has even spread to Maggie, who is also stuck with uninteresting, unfunny stories.
I don't fully understand how people can stop being funny. It doesn't sound like something that can just happen, but that is exactly what has happened to the writers of The Simpsons. The show that was once ground-breaking and ingenious is now pathetic, a tired old dog limping to the grave that it should have reached years ago. I may sound bitter, and in truth I am, because this was a truly spectacular, one-of-a-kind show, and now it will not be allowed to be put to rest. I love the Simpsons. I love the characters, I love the cast's performances and I love the stories. But that was quite a long time ago, when it deserved it. When it does eventually end, I will of course be extremely sad, but I will be more relieved that finally this great television programme can call it a day at last.
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