.. art out as stereotypes of certain factions of society, but over time evolve into complete individuals with whom the viewers become familiar. Among the members of the supporting cast are Moe the bartender, Krusty the Klown, Mr. Burns, Homer’s miserly old boss, Chief Wiggum, the fat, lazy police chief, Principal Skinner, and Bart’s chain-smoking teacher, Ms. Krabapple. All of these characters are introduced as flat characters, but over time their personalities have been comprehensively developed into much more.
By developing these side characters, as well as the members of the Simpson family, the cartoon figures often become more believable and seem more real than human, clichd characters on television. This evolution is central to the show’s prolonged prime-time success. An example of the show’s focus on the supporting cast is the documentation of the love affair between Principal Skinner and Ms. Krabapple. Previously the viewers had only known them in relation to Bart, but subsequent shows reveal that they were both lonely souls who found each other, bringing happiness into each other’s lives. The writers go so deeply into the development that, when accused of having sex in the janitor’s closet at school, Principal Skinner reveals that he is a virgin.
Principal Skinner is further developed by the discovery that he is using the name Seymour Skinner as an alias, and that he is actually a deadbeat from Capital City. The real Seymour Skinner is a war hero who has come to Springfield to set the record straight. In the end, the town decides that they like the old Seymour Skinner better, and they send the “real” Seymour Skinner out of town strapped to a train. Some characters may be the focal point of the show for weeks at a time, or for a significant number of shows over a period of years. An example of a continually growing character is Krusty the Klown, who has had several encounters with the Simpson family over the years. Krusty is introduced on the show as simply as clown TV star, but over the years the viewers have come to find out a great deal about him. Through his numerous appearances on the show, we have discovered that his father disowned him because he wanted to become a clown instead of a rabbi, he has a pacemaker, he is illiterate, and he has three nipples.
Bart has starred on his show, saved him from a murder accusation, and convinced him to return to television after he left his show for a life as a fisherman, yet through another bizarre quirk on the show, Krusty has no idea who Bart is. Similar extensive development is provided for countless other characters on the show, revealing more about the main and supporting characters than any other show on television. The growth of the cast members allows the viewers to form somewhat of a relationship with the members of the show. This relationship translates into loyalty, which has contributed to the endurance of the show’s popularity over time. During the early years of “The Simpsons,” the show seemed to be simply a cartoon version of the other mindless shows on the air.
Bart, the rebellious, spunky fourth-grader, was the focus of the show and a marketing superstar. His signature catchphrases, such as “Aye Carumba!” and “Eat my shorts,” were plastered on the shirts and lunchboxes of children across the nation. If the creators had chosen to continue to emphasize Bart as the star of the show, as they easily could have done, the program would have inevitably died in a few years’ time. Fortunately, the producers recognized this reality. In fact, they were so aware that they actually based an episode on a nearly identical situation.
Bart, while making an unscheduled appearance on the “Krusty the Klown Show,” accidentally knocks down the entire set of the show. He stares at the mess for a moment, looks at the audience and says, “I didn’t do it.” The crowd goes wild, and each time Bart repeats the line, the crowd gets louder. He is an instant star. Toys, t-shirts, and dolls featuring Bart flood the stores, and Krusty focuses his entire show around Bart and his magical phrase for a few weeks. Then, all of a sudden, the line loses its charm.
Bart instantly goes from celebrity to washed-up, and he realizes the fleeting nature of fame. The producers of “The Simpsons” obviously realized that the same thing would have happened to the show if they had not made an adjustment. As a result, the focus of the show shifted from Bart to Homer around the fourth season, and writers began developing the characters of the residents of Springfield. Bart was recently listed as one of the twenty most important cultural figures of the twentieth century by Time magazine, but an analysis of the program reveals that Homer has been the true sustaining force. The creator of “The Simpsons,” Matt Groening, stated that his original intention was for the Simpsons to be a TV family superficially similar to those of his ’60s childhood, only one you could feel superior to. The essence of Homer’s appeal lies in the latter portion of that statement.
He is the ultimate, typical bumbling TV father. He concocts wild schemes that the viewer knows will fail miserably, and the audience takes pleasure in watching as he stumbles his way into inevitable disaster. As hard as he tries, Homer is simply not very bright, and the viewers can sympathize with him and feel good about themselves. In a way, Homer is living out the fantasies of the average Joe. He sleeps his way through work, repeatedly, inexplicably keeping his job despite massive mistakes.
He drinks beer and goes bowling seemingly every night, and comes home to a loving wife and family with a hot meal on the table. Whenever he gets the urge to go after something new, he ignores any possible consequences and goes for it. Because he has the same dreams that the viewers have, the audience relates to him and, in a way, envies him. The viewers therefore feel a connection to Homer and, consequently, to the show. One theory suggests that the success of “The Simpsons” is a consequence of television history, and could not have taken place if the show had originated twenty years earlier.
The medium of television needed time to build up complexity and diversity, so that the show could virtually redefine what is expected of a television program. Based on this theory, “The Simpsons'” effect on television is similar to the Beatles’ effect on music. The theory predicts that the show will continue on until, just like the Beatles, they have nothing left to do. At its current pace, “The Simpsons” seems like it could go on forever. The show is continually progressing and perhaps funnier than ever.
The writers are further developing the characters with each passing episode, and the show’s possibilities, for the time being, seem limitless. It is difficult to explain exactly what the allure of the show is, but at the core its most appealing characteristic is that it is simply funny. From the simple pleasure of watching Homer fall flat on his face to the most obscure reference imaginable, “The Simpsons” continues to entertain over a decade after its conception and shows no signs of slowing down. Films and Cinema.