• The Simpsons Caves In to Trashy TV Trend

    by  • September 4, 2013 • Sex, Television • 1 Comment

    For well over a decade, The Simpsons has been the one program even marginally safe for families on Fox’s Sunday night lineup. But this fall, the series will trash its own reputation and legacy – by doing a “cross-over” episode with Seth MacFarlane’s graphic and grotesque Family Guy.

    While always characterized by sharp, irreverent humor and a satirical perspective, over its more than two decades The Simpsons has also demonstrated a substantial amount of that difficult-to-define quality known as “heart.” No matter how they may frustrate one another, dumb dad Homer, obnoxious brat Bart, brainy Lisa, and the rest have simultaneously served as a satire skewering the traditionally sappy sitcom family, and just as often such a family themselves. Too, the program’s messages about the importance of relating to a wider community have been appreciated by many, as has the show’s clever writing.

    In nearly every way, Seth MacFarlane’s Family Guy (and its nearly-identical clones American Dad and The Cleveland Show) has been the antithesis of The Simpsons. While both feature a family, there the similarities end. Family Guy cannot be characterized as satire; it is little more than an excuse for toilet humor, gross-out graphic sex gags, and explicit violence. And while The Simpsons has devoted entire episodes to cleverly satirizing pop-culture trends, Family Guy’s version of “satire” consists of quick “cut-aways” which turn popular icons into semi-pornography or worse. In fact, MacFarlane’s shows have often been criticized as being inferior rip-offs of The Simpsons.  

    But this fall, The Simpsons will begin its 25th season. After 25 years, no doubt Fox is concerned that its longest-running program is no longer sufficiently “edgy”; and, after having paid MacFarlane $100 million for his mean-spirited bigotry and toilet humor, it is certain that Fox wants to get its money’s worth — hence, the forced alliance between the two former rivals. But it is a pity that Fox is so creatively bankrupt that the best idea it can come up with is to trash its one remaining family-friendly Sunday night program.



    Christopher Gildemeister is the PTC’s Head of Research Operations. He began as an Entertainment Analyst at the PTC in 2005. From 2007-2016, he was Senior Writer/Editor, responsible for communicating the PTC’s message to the public through newsletters, columns, and the PTC Watchdog blog. Dr. Gildemeister holds a Ph.D. from The Catholic University of America.

    One Response to The Simpsons Caves In to Trashy TV Trend

    1. Bobaloo
      October 9, 2013 at 9:54 am

      Actually, in all my research, I don’t think the episode in question will air until fall 2014. It’s been announced and production is no doubt taking place, but it’ll be interesting to see if the mundane plot description (as given in early news briefings) holds up or if it does degenerate into MacFarlane’s usual work.

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