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The History of The Simpsons

VO: Rebecca Brayton
A satirical parody of the American working-class lifestyle, this show was originally pitched as a series of animated shorts by Matt Groening in 1987. Debuting as 60-second spots for the variety series “The Tracey Ullman Show”, 20th Century Fox gave it its first half-hour episode on December 17th, 1989. Instantly acclaimed by critics, and loved by audiences of all ages, the cartoons detailed the average American lives of a family based in the fictional community of Springfield. Together, these characters and their situations lampooned many aspects of American culture, society, politics and history. Remarkably, this one of a kind program continues to make us laugh and reinvent itself for new audiences over two decades after its creation. Join WatchMojo.com as we take a look at the history of The Simpsons.
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The History of The Simpsons

It’s the longest running American primetime sitcom ever. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be taking a look at the history of The Simpsons.

A satirical parody of the American working-class lifestyle, it was originally pitched as a series of animated shorts by Matt Groening in 1987.

Debuting as 60-second spots for the variety series “The Tracey Ullman Show”, 20th Century Fox gave it its first half-hour episode on December 17th, 1989.

Instantly acclaimed by critics, and loved by audiences of all ages, the cartoons detailed the average American lives of the Simpsons. A family based in the fictional community of Springfield, which was influenced by the creator’s hometown of Portland, Oregon.

Interestingly, its main characters were all directly named after Groening’s own family, with the exception of himself played by Bart, an anagram for the word “brat.” These characters include Homer, a childish father who gives bad advice and works at the Nuclear Power Plant, Marge, a loving and nurturing mother who tries to maintain peace within the family, Hellish 10-year old troublemaker Bart, Lisa, an extremely smart 8-year old, and baby Maggie.

Bringing the cast to life as Homer and Marge were Dan Castellaneta and Julie Kavner, who were already members of The Tracey Ullman Show. In addition, Yeardley Smith and Nancy Cartwright were added to voice Lisa and Bart respectively. While these actors would voice much of the extended cast, Hank Azaria came onboard to bring to life such fan favorites as Moe, Chief Wiggum and Apu.

Together, these characters and their situations lampooned many aspects of American culture, society, politics and history. This was accomplished by involving countless caricatures and guest appearances in order to make fun of real world events and personalities.

And although the Simpsons family is depicted as highly dysfunctional, the show places much of its focus on examining their relationships and bonds with one another. Meanwhile, the show incorporated the passing of yearly milestones, such as holidays and birthdays, however the characters themselves have never aged.

Becoming famous for its hallmarks and running jokes, these include its ever-changing opening couch sequence, Bart’s chalkboard gag, Lisa’s Saxaphone solo; and dozens of catch phrases and words, which have made their way into everyday use and the dictionary.

A beloved and multiple award winning animated series, The Simpsons is a one of a kind program that continues to make us laugh and reinvent itself for new audiences over two decades after its creation.
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