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The Simpsons Folder


The Simpsons Turn 200
April 24, 1998 © E! Online. by Daniel Frankell

“When you start making a float for every flash-in-the-pan cartoon character, it cheapens the whole parade.” So remarked couch potato-cum-philosopher Homer Simpson as he watched a Macy’s-like procession that included a float bearing an uncanny resemblance to his son, Bart, during a second-season episode of The Simpsons.

It’s this kind of self-awareness that’s largely responsible for The Simpsons being anything but a “flash-in-the-pan”–as many pegged the cartoon when it debuted as a series in December 1989.

Sunday, the show hits a milestone few live-action–let alone cartoon–series ever reach: the 200-episode mark. (Guest stars Steve Martin and U2 are along for the celebration; the show will also be dedicated to Linda McCartney.)

But never mind 200 episodes. Or the seven Emmys. Or the innumberable A-list guests. Or the tons of merchandise. How does a show go from a ‘toon short on a low-rated program (The Tracey Ullman Show) on an upstart network (Fox) to the longest-running animated series ever–one that paved the way for Beavis & Butt-head and South Park, and helped make Fox legit?

“We’ve been obsessed not only with not doing what other shows are doing, but also trying not to repeat ourselves,” says show creator Matt Groening, who claims to have come up with the idea for his dysfunctional yellow family a mere 15 minutes before pitching the idea to producer James Brooks.

Brooks himself says people can relate to the beer-swilling, donut-guzzling Homer and his brood, and that’s why the show has been a monster hit. “I realized that The Simpsons was so rich, it spanned the generations and offered something for everyone to laught at,” he tells the Hollywood Reporter.

Even at 200, Groening tells Variety there’s no sign of The Simpsons slowing down. The show “hasn’t already offended everyone whom we’re capable of offending. By this time, I’d have figured that most of the people whom this show might offend would have just stopped watching. But they keep right on writing in and complaining anyway. When will they learn that we’re not going to learn from them?”

Or as Bart would say, “Don’t have a cow, man.”