Top 10 Stereotypes on The Simpsons

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Top 10 Stereotypes on The Simpsons

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Michael Wynands
These stereotypical Simpsons characters have sparked their fair share of controversy in recent years. We'll be looking at various supporting characters from this iconic, highly influential series, who are the most overtly rooted in stereotypes and cliches, whether racial, religious, socio-economic, cultural or otherwise. Animation is often about taking things to exaggerated comedic extremes, but it can get really problematic. WatchMojo ranks the most stereotypical Simpsons characters. Do you have a problem with these Simpsons characters? Let us know in the comments!
Transcript
Animation is often about taking things to exaggerated comedic extremes, but it can get really problematic. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Stereotypical Simpsons Characters.

For this list, we’ll be looking at various supporting characters from this iconic, highly influential series, who are the most overtly rooted in stereotypes and cliches, whether racial, religious, socio-economic, cultural or otherwise.

#10: Luigi Risotto


His first name is that of a Mario Bros, his last name is that of a famous northern Italian rice preparation. Subtlety… is not this character’s strong suit. First appearing in the season 5 episode “Sweet Seymour Skinner's Baadasssss Song”, Luigi is the chef and owner of Springfield’s Italian eatery, the appropriately named… Luigi’s. Here’s the thing though, while Luigi is a walking mishmash of Italian stereotypes, the show has made that part of the joke. As it turns out, Luigi was born Lothar Folkman, and only changed his name and donned that thick Italian accent to get diners in the door. Since then however, he seems to have really run with the persona.

#9: Eleanor Abernathy


Getting older can often be a lonely experience, and if your family and friends have all moved away or passed on, a pet or two can make for some much needed company. Unfortunately, the elderly woman with a few too many cats to her name has become an all too familiar cliche, making it ripe for parody by The Simpsons. A woman of few words, but with an abundance of cats that she’s only too happy to throw at people, Dr. Eleanor Abernathy, MD JD, is the quintessential “Crazy Cat Lady”. Though her erratic behavior might be good for a few laughs, like real world recluses, Abernathy is actually struggling - both with alcoholism and mental health.

#8: Ned Flanders


Love him, hate him, or love to hate him, Ned Flanders is undeniably an important part of The Simpsons dynamic. An overly-friendly, helpful, talkative and gratingly considerate neighbor, he’s the perfect foible to the Simpson family patriarch, Homer, and his loudmouthed, selfish buffoonery. While the numerous Ned-centric episodes have helped flesh out this character over the years, there’s no escaping the fact that he’s fundamentally made up of various Christian stereotypes. From his firm belief in God and the way of the Bible to his insistence on turning the other cheek and acting charitably, he’s one big walking, talking Christian cliche.

#7: Akira


Well into the 21st century, it’s the racially charged characters on the Simpsons who are always the hardest to swallow, and unlike the delicious sushi he serves up at The Happy Sumo restaurant, Akira does not go down smooth. From the thick Japanese accent to the noticeably smaller eyes, Akira’s intended ethnicity is made painfully obvious from the get-go; but the fact that he’s also made to work as both a server at a sushi restaurant AND the sensei of a dojo is where this gets downright silly. It’s like Akira is the only Japanese person in Springfield and is thus expected to satisfy every stereotype at once.

#6: Jeffrey Albertson


Many likely don’t recognize this character by name, which says a lot about just what a cliche he is. Albertson is better known as “Comic Book Guy”, and since long before geek culture became mainstream, this uber-nerd has served as the vessel of the showrunners and writers to poke fun at geeks. Overweight, socially-inept, and generally disliked, Albertson has a notable chip on his shoulder and a blatant sense of superiority over others - one rooted in a belief that the pop culture content he loves is underappreciated, and that those with less knowledge of such things are his inferiors. He serves as a scathing takedown of geek culture.

#5: Fat Tony


Step aside Luigi, you may have successfully adopted the stylings of the quintessential pizza/pasta chef, but local mafioso and crime boss Marion Anthony D'Amico is the pinnacle of Italian stereotypes in Springfield. Speaking almost entirely in cliche lines pulled from gangster film and television, rarely seen without a cigar, and sporting the sort of face and physique that only a wealthy mob wife could love, Fat Tony feels like one big Italian punchline - we’d just never say that to his face. Well, if he were still with us.

#4: Bumblebee Man


Characters like Pedro Chespirito can be made to work, but only if used to criticize the prejudices and racially charged assumptions that stem from the ignorance of the caucasian majority. Unfortunately, the Simpsons hasn’t done much with Chespirito (better known as Bumblebee Man) other than use him for cheap laughs. In the show’s defense, he’s actually inspired by Roberto Gómez Bolaños’ comedic tv character, El Chapulín Colorado, but since the vast majority of viewers aren’t in on that joke, he’s usually taken at face value - a caricature of an exaggerated, budget Spanish language television personality.

#3: Cletus Spuckler


Cletus Delroy Spuckler is a living dictionary definition of a stereotypical redneck. Thin, sleepy-eyed, rocking a bad haircut, a wispy moustache, jeans and a white wife beater, Cletus’ aesthetic screams “slack-jawed yokel.” Then he opens his mouth or invites you back to his home, and you realize that, all things considered, his image is actually pretty tame. He’s married to his own relative, Brandine, but seems to be totally obsessed with a pig. His IQ and world-knowledge appears painfully low (uppity box). He’s basically every redneck stereotype imaginable cranked to 11. It would be offensive… but honestly, we hope that, based on how absurd he is, no one out there can realistically identify with him.

#2: Groundskeeper Willie


Scotland doesn’t have a ton of representation in popular culture these days. And Willie ain’t helping. This brawny (literal) caricature hasn’t done the Scottish people many favors in terms of fair or flattering representation. He’s strong, sure… but apart from that one flattering stereotype, the rest of Willie’s characteristics include being angry; incomprehensible due to his thick accent; often getting drunk and occasionally wearing a kilt; and playing the bagpipes. If he were Canadian… he’d be a Mountie with three pet beavers riding a moose.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions

Medicine Woman

Mayor Joseph Quimby

#1: Apu Nahasapeemapetilon


The friendly owner of the Kwik-E-Mart is without a doubt the most high profile and controversial character on the Simpsons when it comes to stereotypical representations. An Indian immigrant with a heavy accent, who’s actually voiced by white actor Hank Azaria, Apu has become something of a lightning rod for conversations about race and stereotypes in The Simpsons, with many calling him an obviously racist caricature. He actually inspired a feature length documentary, “The Problem with Apu”, which dives deep into the insidious nature of prejudice. Given the controversy, his role on the show has seemingly been minimized in recent seasons.
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