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TV Show Analysis: The Simpsons Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Mar 21st, 2019

Simpsons is an animated sitcom or comedy television show, based in America and was created for the Fox Broadcasting company by Matt Groening. The setting of this show is a fictional and unknown US state, Springfield, and the name Simpsons is used in the show as a family name.

Fox network, which is one of the main television networks in the U.S. and is owned by Fox Entertainment Group. It was founded in 1985 is an American television network that broadcasts commercials.

The show Simpsons comes in on Sundays at 8.00-8.30 pm, whereby’ Bob Burgers’ is the program that comes in before the Simpsons and ‘The Cleveland Show’ is the one that comes after it. There three commercial breaks with advertisements during the Simpsons, which advertise things that concern the whole family.

There is no extensive product placement during the show, reason being that one of the main target groups of viewers is children, who would get bored if that happened (Richmond 2-15).

The ads aired during the show feature issues that concern the whole family, an example being that of family vacation to Disney world, and it states that everyone is considered in Disney world, from the parents to the children, with all facilities included.

Other commercials include the R U’s, which advertises a toy shop that is reasonably cheap and the other one involves a family van, that is fully fitted for long-distance travelling, even having a small TV in it. That implies that this program is viewed by the whole family, and is specially designed to fit a typical middle class American family.

I was just searching for TV programs online and when I saw the name, it interested me as I had heard about it before when my friends were discussing a previous episode and I checked to see what kind of program it was.

Typically, Simpsons serves the satirical parody of a working class style of America, it is a situational comedy or sitcom that has a standard setup, and it uses this as its premise, and it concentrates on the family’s life in a typical town in America.

The characters use Springfield as an entire universe to explore issues that come up in today’s worldwide society, and can comment on the environmental state, considering that there is provision for a nuclear plant Homer work.

The producers have been able to develop jokes about the entertainment industry including themselves though Lisa and Bart bring about controversy on education at the elementary school (Project free TV on facebook).

The writers have portrayed authority figures in a negative and unappealing way, such that the police are not trustworthy, the religious leaders demonstrate perfunctoriness towards the believers and those who go to the churches and finally the politicians have also been brought out as being very corrupt.

This show also deals with religion as one of the themes, and how in times of difficulties, the family finds comfort God.

Simpsons is a family name, coded to a typical American animated family living in a fictional town, Springfield. The family consists of five members, Homer the father, Marge the mother, the boy Bart, and two girls Lisa and Maggie.

Homer works as a security personnel in a nucleic power plant based in Springfield and he is considered careless and ridiculous personality, Marge represents a typical American housewife, Bart who is ten, considered a trouble maker and Lisa who is eight, an activist are both in school and finally Maggie is the youngest in the family, and communicates by using a pacifier, as she is not yet a fluent speaker (YouTube a).

Like many other TV shows and movies, Simpsons show is a narrative formulaic because story telling happens in form of action and regardless of the fact that the writers come up with new plots each time.

It is an open ended kind of story, as the writer leaves viewers to make conclusions by themselves. Major plotlines that emerge in this show are comical, political, religion and family life (Richmond 84-107).

The story in Simpsons is told in the form of a play, with no specified narrator and the implied author is Douglas Coupland and the implied audience comprises of middle class family in the American suburbs, where parents do blue collar jobs. This is shown by the featured animated family of the Simpsons and the kind of advertisements they broadcast in the commercial breaks (YouTube a).

Narrative problematic of this show basically are the many problems being experienced by the Simpsons, as any other middle class family and at times the complexity of it, ranging from the communal ones like the pollution happening to their town and what they ought to do about it to family matters like forgetfulness and negligence portrayed by locking the baby Maggie in the car to Homer’s careless nature.

The other issue is the administrative problems, each of the authority figure in this show is portrayed as having failed in their role, from the political leaders to religion and even parents back at home do not set good examples to the children, or they fail in a way.

What is happening? Burns find Homer in a pub, taking beer and tells him to take it slow, but Homer insists that he can handle it, and Burns joins in with the drinking and as they talk, Burns discloses his intensions to find love. Burns as he drives along finds Gloria the corp., who issues him with a receipt and in the process, he asks her out. In this scene is Gloria and Burns in a restaurant taking a drink.
How is it lit? The lighting is well done, appropriate for that specific scene. The lighting is well done, slightly dull and appropriate for that specific scene. The lighting is abit dull for this scene, to illustrate an evening in restaurant.
What is in the shot? The bar, with shelves for beer and a counter, the bar attendant, Burns. There is a car on the roadside with Mr. Burns in it, and Gloria the corp alongside. A table with drinks on it, Gloria and Burns sited on either side of the table, having a conversation.
What is on the soundtrack? On the soundtrack is the song High Hopes, by Frank Sinatra. ‘I Put a Spell on You, Screaming’ by Jay Hawkins plays while they talk. Breathless, by Jerry Lee Lewis is playing in the background of this scene.
What are the characters wearing? Homer is in a yellow t-shirt and Burns is in a brown sweater. Gloria is in black corp. uniform, Burns is in black sweater. Gloria is in a long red dress, and Burns is in green suit, a white shirt and a purple bow-tie.

There are some main characters appearing in these episodes, their mode of dressing changes with the setting, like for instance Gloria being a corp., when she goes out she dresses up differently from when she I sat work. Burns too changes his dress code with the occasion, though the transformation is not as much as that in Gloria’s case.

When we look at the props and setting, we find that a table and chairs are recurrent in the setting of a restaurant, but is abit different from a pub, which is characterized by a counter. Other features and persons that are not within the focus of the camera are like the bar and restaurant waiter and waitress and the beer shelves (YouTube b).

These edits provide continuity of the episode in that they provide transitional modes from one shot to the next, like connecting the shot with burns in the house trying to rescue Gloria to the next where the police are running after Snake and this is also demonstrated by the changing background.

The different settings demonstrate the various places the shots take place, and this helps in telling half of the story, in terms of the whereabouts of the characters, and at times their intensions (YouTube b).

My chosen group of viewers includes a schoolmate Jamie, who is 19years old who is in his first year of college, my small sister Sidney, who is eight years old in 3rd grade and a neighbor Mark, who is fourteen years old, in eighth grade.

While they are watching, the only disruptive person is Mark, he does not seem to enjoy the program at all, at first he suggests that we change to another channel, but Jamie and Sidney insist that they want to watch. They are watching intently, discussing a few interesting happenings shortly and then watching quietly.

Everyone else is sited on the couch except for Sidney who likes sitting on a cushion on the floor. Mark leaves the room several times to check on his pet dog’s whereabouts then comes back in hoping that the program is over. Sidney gets very irritated by Mark’s behavior and when he is outside she wishes loudly that he does not come back soon.

The show was about the Simpson’s trip to China, where they go out to a Chinese restaurant, and Homer thinks that the cookies implied to bring about fortune, are just a fake. He shows off to the hotel owner with his kind of fortunes and the hotel owner hires him as a writer.

In one of his fortunes he comes across Mr. Burns and who has been told that he will find true love, but thinks it as impossible, but it comes to pass when he meets and asks a female police officer Gloria out.

Initially, Gloria does not really like Burns, she feels the age difference between them is too big but she begins to like him after Homer tells her about his adventures, so she thinks he would be fun to stick around.

When going out with Gloria, Burns decides that the best way to show appreciation to Homer for helping him find love was by inviting him over to their date. While he gets some champagne for the trio, he leaves the two together and Snake who is Gloria’s ex-boyfriend invades and kidnaps the pair, goes and locks them in some building.

Homer catches on fire and the house where Snake had tied them in also goes up in blaze and Gloria is trapped inside. Gloria realizes that she loves Snake’s bad-boy nature after being saved by Burns, so she falls for him again.

It was meaningful to Jamie who thinks that it portrays how when one is in love can do dangerous things to fight for what he or she believes in, not caring what the outcome would be.

That illustrates how in life sometimes we just have to take a risk so as to attain all that we want to. Sidney got the fun and scary part of it and was finally happy that Gloria was saved from the fire, but again thinks it is unfair for her not to love Burns any more. Mark did not get any single thing from the show (YouTube b).

This is one of the most enticing episodes for Jamie as it brings in a mixture of action and romance, which reflects everyone’s life at some point when you find out that only acting crazy, would save the situation. For Sidney, she thinks it is fun to have a friend who would be willing to risk their life for your sake.

The cultural aspect of this show is love and friendship, as a natural factor, the fact that at some point one finds themselves in love and also surrounded by good friends. It also brings out some humor; especially the kids find it very interesting, while the adults get the other aspects of the same.

Basically, the program was trying to portray life’s occurrences, love and friendship and basically the essence of friendship in times when you need one the most. The only viewer that fully decoded the show is Jamie, though with such a show, it is hard to determine the exact intensions of the producer.

Gender is one of the topics with contradictory representation and cultural definitions. This basically refers to the question of what it means to be a man or a woman, (male or female), which comes naturally, but in today’s world, gender has been stripped of its cultural values and practices.

It is a complexity of performances and actions that are never satisfactorily done at any point in time. In the Simpsons show, gender is one of the identities that have been well represented, as each one of the characters is given an opportunity to express their views and disagreements, and is also allowed to participate in all the activities done in the community, and even explore.

Gender is a question that ranges from sexuality, generation, class, ethnicity and race. Gender indifference comes in when Ned and Edna are dating and he realizes that she has dated many more men, and starts questioning her.

In this situation, if he were the one who had done the same thing, then he would not have been questioned, but it happened because it was a lady in that situation (Gimple 35-67).

In this show, race is also one of the identities that come in and basically unlike gender, race never involves biological differences, but it is a concept that symbolizes and signifies social conflicts and interests based on the different human beings and like gender, it attributes cultural and social meanings thus racial differences are more arbitrary than gender.

In this show, we find a conflict of interests between the different characters, and at times this becomes a serious problem that requires the attention of several people. Race is portrayed when the Simpsons are in China and Homer thinks he can do everything better than the Chinese, and is given the responsibility of writing and fortune-finding (Project free TV on facebook).

These occurrences happen often in real life, where in some situations some people of one gender think they are more justified doing some things than the others, and also people who belong to one race or ethnic group think of themselves better than someone of another race.

This show is conservative in that there are few such occurrences, but in some instances oppositional readings of gender recurs, like in the case where the elementary school senior teacher takes the key from Lisa because she implied of a room that he never got to see (Gimple 96-118).

The Simpsons show illustrates the typical power structures as in our society, and how at times the authority figures misuse their power or abuse the rights of citizens. This is well illustrated in the episode Homer tries to vote for Obama, but instead finds that every button presses McCain’s side, and when he tries harder is finally killed.

The show is meant to criticize the authorities which at times pretend to be doing something in the aid of citizens, but then it is found out that they were only using that as a cover-up, for a serious offence. Ethnicity is one of the identity experiences excluded from the show, and the issue race also does not recur very often.

In this show two major ideological problematic stands out, one is consumerism and environmental problems, the other one is political hostility and corruption.

When this show brings in religious and political side of it, the issues dealt with only lies to the extreme of being one sided and highly opinionated, not considering the opinions and belief of the viewers which may differ (Project free TV on facebook).

This show represents cultural and political aspects like love and friendship, race and gender, authority, generation and leadership.

Misrepresentation of generation is also portrayed when the elementary school teacher cannot believe in Lisa’s story, and this happens many times such that, the older people and parents do not allow the place for correction by the juniors.

This at times would be dangerous because the youngster may be giving warning concerning a disaster or something that would be harmful, but the mentality in the leader’s minds would not let them be helped (Project free TV on facebook).

In its context, this program reflects especially the political misrepresentation, though commentators say that this does not refer to America, but maybe to another country.

In this context, politicians get to a point of forcing the citizens into things that would rather be made as choice to them, like the elections, and we find that, they give no place for them to make administrative decisions.

Simpsons, though animated, plays a major role in criticizing major occurrences like racial discrimination, prejudice, gender inequality, political corruption and poor leadership even in a family set-up. It also brings out issues like environmental pollution and illustrates the long-term effects of a polluted environment to the society as a whole.

The show is important to the society as it helps criticize mischievous and corrupt leadership and illustrate the various ways that the administrative bodies can be able to improve the services they offer to the society and also involve the members of the community in preserving the environment and fighting corruption from the grassroots.

It also relates to family relationships and illustrates the effects of bad leadership in families and also the good side of mentorship in families. The final issue brought out is education, though it has not well represented in the show as it should considering the fact that this program has children as target viewers (Project free TV on facebook).

Works Cited

Gimple, Scott, ed. Groening, Matt: The Simpsons Forever. London: Harper Collins, 1999. Print.

Richmond, Ray, ed. Groening, Matt: The Simpsons. London: Harper Collins, 1997. Print.

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