The Simpsons is one of Americas most popular television shows.
It ranks as the number one television program for viewers under
eighteen years of age.
However, the ideals that The Simpsons conveys
are not always wholesome, sometimes not even in good taste. It is
inevitable that The Simpsons is affecting children.
Matt Groening took up drawing to escape from his troubles in
1977. At the time, Groening was working for the L.
A. Reader, a free
weekly newspaper. He began working on Life in Hell, a humorous comic
strip consisting of people with rabbit ears. The L.
A. Reader picked up
a copy of his comic strip and liked what they saw. Life in Hell
gradually became a common comic strip in many free weeklies and
college newspapers across the country. It even developed a cult
Life in Hell drew the attention of James L. Brooks, producer
of works such as Taxi, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and Terms of
Endearment. Brooks originally wanted Groening to make an animated
pilot of Life in Hell. Groening chose not to do so in fear of loosing
royalties from papers that printed the strip.
Brooks with an overweight, balding father, a mother with a blue
beehive hairdo, and three obnoxious spiky haired children. Groening
intended for them to represent the typical American family “who love
each other and drive each other crazy”. Groening named the characters
after his own family. His parents were named Homer and Margaret and
he had two younger sisters named Lisa and Maggie.
Bart was an anagram
for “brat”. Groening chose the last name “Simpson” to sound like the
typical American family name. (Varhola, 2)
Brooks decided to put the 30 or 60 second animations on
between skits on The Tracy Ullman Show on the unsuccessful Fox
network. Cast members Dan Castellaneta and Julie Kavner did the
voices of Homer and Marge.
Yeardley Smith (later to star in Herman’s
Head) did the voice of Lisa. Nancy Cartwright did the voice of Bart.
Cartwright previously supplied the voices for many cartoons, including
Galaxy High, Fantastic Max, Richie Rich, Snorks, Pound Puppies, My
Little Pony, and Glo-Friends. Tracy Ullman later added Cartwright to
(Dale and Trich, 11)
Brooks, Groening, and Sam Simon, Tracy Ullman’s producer,
wanted to turn the Simpson family into their own show. The Fox
network was looking for material to appeal to younger viewers. The
only show they had that drew a young audience was Married With
Children. To Fox’s pleasure, The Simpsons saved the network from near
On December 17, 1989, The Simpsons got their break. The
Christmas special, “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire” aired. (Dale
and Trich, 19) In the episode, Bart got a tattoo, much to Marge’s
dislike. She quickly spent all of the family’s Christmas money to
remove Bart’s tattoo with a laser.
At the same time, Homer, still on
his morning coffee break at 4:00 in the afternoon, learns that he will
not receive a Christmas bonus. When he learns that Marge is relying
on the money for Christmas, he decides that he will do the Christmas
shopping for the year. He quickly buys Marge panty hose, Bart paper,
Lisa crayons, and Maggie a dog toy. When he realizes that he is not
doing very well, he gets a second job as a mall Santa for the extra
On the way home from work, he steals a Christmas tree. The
next day at the mall, Bart sits on his Dad’s lap and pulls down his
beard. Homer responds by choking Bart and making him help make
Christmas better. On Christmas Eve, Homer receives his check, $13.
for over 40 hours work. Homer takes Bart to the dog track as a final
chance for Christmas money. They discovered a gem in the third race,
Santa’s Little Helper. How could this dog lose on Christmas Eve? The
odds were 99 to 1, they were going to be rich.
Homer put all of his
money on Santa’s Little Helper, and to his horror, he never even
finished. As Homer and Bart were scouring the parking lot for winning
tickets into the night, they saw the track manager throw