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The Simpsons is an animated sitcom about the antics of a dysfunctional family called the Simpsons (surprise surprise). Homer is the oafish unhealthy beer loving father, Marge is the hardworking homemaker wife, Bart is the ten year old underachiever (and proud of it), Lisa is the unappreciated eight year old genius, and Maggie is the cute, pacifier loving silent infant.
Homer has a mid-life crisis, takes up bass guitar and forms a cover band with some of the other dads in town. But the band’s modest early success is soon overwhelmed by the breakout potential of their most unlikely star, Apu.
On the annual spooktacular Halloween special, Bart and Lisa are transported to a demon-filled alternate universe after Bart reads a set of Aramaic symbols he finds on the underside of his desk; Moe’s Clockwork Orange-style gang is disrupted when Dum (Homer) falls for a girl (Marge) who wants him to give up the thug life; and, in an homage to The Others, the Simpsons are visited by their former Tracey Ullman-era versions of themselves.
Marge opens a sandwich franchise store after her sandwiches become a huge hit at Springfield Elementary. But running day-to-day at the store proves challenging, especially when the same franchise opens another location across the street.
When Bart disrespects Homer’s authority, Homer makes a point to try his hand at parenting. This proves fruitless, so Marge signs them up for the Relation Ship, where they’ll resolve their conflicts at sea. Meanwhile, Marge is in charge of Homer’s fantasy football league, but manages to win despite being the underdog.
In the milestone 26th season opener of THE SIMPSONS, the unthinkable happens: a Springfield resident dies. Also, Krusty retires after he’s offended by a comedy cable channel roast of him, and Lisa tries to protect Homer from getting hurt.
The Simpsons “Days of Future Future” is yet another future episode and the future ain’t what it used to be. It can mess with Simpsons canon. I’ve always assumed there would be a future with a President Lisa Simpson. I assume it will happen before Malcolm from Malcolm in the Middle will be president. It’s a future I look forward to. Not only will she legalize “it” for Bart, both Lisa and Malcolm are both really intelligent people from families who know what’s what in the world. Not that I want a President Frankie Muniz or President Yeardley Smith, well maybe Yeardley, President Yeardley sounds like it will be comic gold. But I digress.
I’m going to miss Homer #1, his irrepressible humor, his insatiable hunger and unquenchable thirst. We’ve gone through so much. And come back for seconds. Free refills and all the shrimp we could eat. Thank science for Professor Frink, until Bart recorded over Homer, he begloibened the day. Homer has had a storied story. He came into this world a kind of magical gorilla, lived as a fat, fat, fat, reckless fat pig, died his way into the future future through a series of surplus wholesale clones, will be downloaded onto a zip drive, turned into a screensaver (bonk, bonk, ooh corner, badonk) and finally transported into a robot who sounds like Kazoo, the alien on The Flintstones. Very fitting. Except Homer’s junk, which comes separately and has to be assembled by hand.
The future in Springfield is a conglomeration of the myths of TV and movies made fleshy yellow. Bart feeds the dinosaurs from Jurassic Park , I mean Cretaceous Park, like he was working at Seaworld, only without the dolphin abuse. Lisa does charity work for the undead, her future being written by The Walking Dead. Her future marriage to Millhouse is in a rut until Millhouse gets bitten by a zombie and Lisa by the love bug. Once you go zombie you never go back. Just like bubble wrap is the great equalizer.
The Simpsons is playing it fast and loose with death this season, what with the death of the most beloved person in Springfield, the real-life death of Marcia Wallace, whatever happened to Nelson a few weeks ago and, I swear, Hans Moleman has died at least four times this year. The Simpsons play with the idea of Homer dying a lot. Probably more so after Matt Groening’s father, who Homer is based on, died. It’s a scab he just has to pick. In a past future episode (if this is beginning to sound like the Mad magazine version of the Poseidon Adventure, go down to go up, good), when Lisa tells her mom she’s marrying a Hugh Grant kinda guy, Marge says “I wish your father were here” no Homer will not have had died in that future, he was out. The Simpsons has prepared us for Homer’s death. But not Abe’s, he’s at Homer’s funerals. Cremo, the crematorium-bot is ever-ready, though.
It’s Martyrdom Week on The Simpsons. First, Ned Flanders beats himself up for doing something that never bothers other Springfieldians?beating the crap out of Homer. In the subplot, Lisa is in the unaccustomed position of being hated by a teacher (voiced by Tina Fey and sounding nothing like stressed-out Liz Lemon), something that ultimately gives her a bit of perverse pleasure.
At this point, Ned has a lot in common with The Simpsons itself, just plugging away and turning the other cheek to criticism, secure that he will be rewarded in the afterlife. (Or, in the show’s case, that overall reputation will wash away the nitpicking about individual episodes.) Early in the show’s run, the annoying-but-sincere Ned served as a counterpoint to the blasphemous Homer and the phone-it-in Christianity of Reverend Lovejoy. He also gave an idea of what the self-righteous Lisa might become if she weren’t so dazzled and humbled by science.
As Homer and The Simpsons have become more blatantly nihilistic, Ned seems less specifically a parody of Christian evangelicalism and more of a stand-in for any kind of belief system. (Marge has a vague appreciation of The Golden Rule, but pretty much all the other adult characters will embrace any craze that comes down the pike.)
At times, he also reminds me of the infamous one-shot character Frank Grimes, from “Homer’s Enemy.” Frank seems unaware that he’s in a cartoon universe and is baffled by Homer’s invincibility; in “Black Eyed, Please” Ned punches Homer in the eye (out of jealousy that his neighbor gets along so well with Ned’s hippie, pothead parents) and is consumed with guilt.