After 22 seasons, The Simpsons closed with a question. Whether or not Ned Flanders and Edna Kerbapple should continue dating — but the real question is, do viewers still care? I must admit that I have not watched the show’s entire run. When it started with 1990, I followed it avidly week after week because the idea of a family so dysfunctional that it is normal in a town called Springfield, which is anything but normal was such a novel idea never before exploited on the animated front. Homer was the funniest type of bumbling dad, Marge, seemingly normal but having quirks of her own (she needs to have some if she survived marrying Homer), Bart, the mischievous eldest son who always ends up in trouble and lives to make his sister Lisa’s (the goody two shoes) life miserable, and Maggie, who for the past 20 years has evolved into one of the badassest babies on television. They are backed by supporting characters that are equally funny and weird. I doubt that there is one normal person on Springfield and in all these years, no one has proved me wrong.
The Simpsons was the show to beat. It was original. It was funny. It was a parody of the normal American family in a small town setting where everybody knew everybody, where majority of the population are screwups and proud of it. Nobody was trying to get out of Springfield, and everybody played a part in the bigger picture.
After reaching more than two decades on air though, I felt as if the jokes were losing some of its punch and the writers running out of material that tickles the viewers’ funny bones, the way it did before. It seemed that Homer and the gang, although there were still sparks of hilarity in the episodes, were finding it hard to compete with other shows such as The Family Guy, Robot Chicken, and American Dad, who were spawned from the same concept but attacks its jokes more crassly and mercilessly to get the laugh. The characters are basically younger, fresher counterparts of The Simpsons but more exaggerated and more adult, and producers don’t care at all about playing by the rules. The competition seemed to up the level a notch, drowning TV’s favorite family with their usual jokes, which now seem lukewarm in comparison to the new shows’ no hold barred approach.
In the last episode, Marge hinted that the show was going to return for a 23rd season, and I must admit that while I am still rooting for the show which I have grown up with, realistically speaking, I doubt that it could keep up with the competition, so long as it clings to the idea of churning out more seasons and pulling back the punches, saving the good stuff for the sake of milking out more episodes. Producers should probably keep their priorities straight — whether it is to produce an amazing show or to sacrifice quality of episodes with quantity.
22 seasons is nothing to scoff at. In itself, it is already an achievement for the show. But The Simpsons could not skate along on the merits of its earlier success or simply rely on its loyal fanbase. If they don’t up their game, these fans will grow tired of recycled jokes and countless specials in one season, which used to be limited to a Halloween Special and a Christmas Special. Are these signs of desperation? I don’t know.
But what I do know is that I would like to see from the show, is one final season of the show returning to its former glory — no holding back, showing its fans that there is some juice still left for it to go out with a bang. Make one final season that tops all season, stay true to the original concept but milk it for all its worth. Come out on top, because the show deserves nothing less than an excellent exit — but in order to do this, the showrunners should first recognize that all good things must come to an end. Even The Simpsons. It will be sad, but it will be worth it rather than ending the show with dismal ratings because everybody quit on it.