The Simpsons - Essential Television

Essay by badball August 2005

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Almost everyone laughs. Indeed, one survey suggests that the average four year old laughs as much as four hundred times a day. By the time that child has grown to the age of forty that number has dwindled to a mere forty laughs per day. For me, the best way to insure that I get my forty chuckles is to watch the animated program, The Simpsons.

Although Homer, Marge and the rest of the Simpson family are the series' focus, I prefer the secondary characters. One of my favorites is the actor, Troy McClure who has appeared in such movies as "Dial M for Murderousness" and such television shows as "Buck Henderson, Union Buster". Troy is willing to act in any low budget film, even stooping to educational films such as "Lead Paint: Delicious But Deadly" and "Firecrackers: The Silent Killer". Another favorite is Doctor Nick Riviera, a doctor so incompetent that when paged on the hospital intercom, his first reaction is to hurl himself through the nearest (usually closed ) window.

His training and skills are so dubious that in one episode, Lisa Simpson had to talk him through surgery because he became repulsed by" all the icky stuff inside" of Homer's body. Lionel Hutts is the character that makes me laugh the most. He is another paragon of ineptitude, a lawyer so awful that he has been know to ask for a bathroom break in court, giving himself a chance to escape, while leaving his client to fend for himself. In his defense, if Mister Hutts loses your death penalty case, he will make good on his "win your trial or get a free pizza" promise.

The Simpsons also delights in poking fun at current events, turning serious issues into cause for laughter. In one instance, Marge Simpson discovers that everything in the local Quicky Mart contains sugar, even down to the shampoo. With the aid of a whistleblower, scientist Jonathon Frink, Marge goes after the source, the Mother-Lovin Sugar Corporation. During the trial, Professor Frink reveals that the food sold to Quicky Mart was just a sugar delivery system, echoing the tobacco lawsuits of recent years. Of course, when the town becomes sugar free and the residents begin showing withdrawal symptoms, Homer gets involved. With the aid of the evil Montgomery Burns, he attempts to smuggle sugar from the Caribbean, enabling The Simpsons to get their shot in at narcotics trafficking too.

By far my favorite feature of this show is the surreal little moments that are sprinkled through the half hour. There is something almost poetic about the fact that whatever hits a tree or falls into a ravine, whether it's a car or Chief Wiggam inside a barrel, explodes in a huge fireball. I laughed until tears ran down my face when Springfield's state legislators voted to remove the Confederate influences from their state flag, especially in light of its being a Northern state. Did I also mention that the sponsoring legislator was Goofball, the Capitol City baseball team's mascot, still in uniform? There is always something ridiculous going on away from the main story, be it Moe the bartender attempting to fence Shamu the killer whale or Groundskeeper Willy saving grease to sell at his retirement.

Often, after returning home from work, I find myself tired, achy and irritable. That mood is often compounded with sadness and despair after watching the horror show that is the six o'clock news. Viewing The Simpsons never fails to lift my spirits and take me away from gritty details of living for a half hour. Without a doubt, The Simpsons is an essential part of my daily routine, guaranteeing that I get those forty laughs a day.