7 reasons 'The Simpsons' needs to call it quits
The world let out a collective cry of 'doh!' this morning with news that the voice of Mr Burns, Principal Skinner and Ned Flanders is to quit the Simpsons. Veteran actor and comedian Harry Shearer took to Twitter to announce he would not be returning to the long-running animated series, after contractual talks broke down.
For fans of the Simpsons this is a blow as Shearer arguably voiced the show's best characters. Can you imagine the Simpsons without the hilarious triumvirate of Flanders, Skinner and Burns? If your answer is in the negative you are not alone.
On the other hand, who among us can truly call themselves a Simpsons fan anymore? You have no doubt dipped into re-runs on Channel 4 or Sky. But have you kept abreast of the programme and thrilled to such high profile recent episodes as the Simpsons' crossovers with Family Guy and Futurama?
We're willing to bet you have not. The sad truth is that the Simpsons and the zeitgeist parted ways a long time ago. The quality dipped from the late 90s on and with each passing year it has marched further towards irrelevance. For that reason, here are seven reasons the Simpsons really ought be put out of misery sooner rather than later.
1: There's Too Much 'Stoopid' Homer.
The genius of Homer Simpson was that he celebrated the stupidity of the everyman. Homer was an idiot – but one with whom we could empathize. He was lazy, out of shape, always looking to cut corners. In short, we could see something of ourselves in his sloth and dim-wittedness. As the series went on, however, Homer's pratfalls became a driving force and his stupidity turned distorted, grotesque and, in the end, utterly lacking in charm.
2: The Show Is Overly Reliant On Gimmicks.
They shot Mr Burns, killed Ned Flanders' wife, had Flanders marry Edna Krabappel. Last season, fans were promised a 'major' death. It turned out to be Krusty The Clown's father. Recent tie-ins with Family Guy and Futurama felt similarly underwhelming. To sustain a following The Simpsons is increasingly obsessed with novelty episodes – and the returns for viewers are rapidly diminishing.
3: Without Mr Burns, The Simpsons Won't Be Worth Watching.
How curious that a parody of a Gilded Age robber baron should be the Simpsons' most consistently hilarious character. But it's true: your heart leaped a little whenever Mr Burns slithered on screen, inevitably to declare 'Simpson eeeeh?'
4: The Simpsons Is Everywhere Nowadays.
Everyman stupidity, quick cut-aways, jokes so subtle that the punchline takes half a second to zip around your brain – such are the staples of every self-respecting American comedy today. The Simpsons didn't invent these tropes - but it utilized them perfectly and blazed a trail for an entire generation of small screen humour.
5: Familiarity Breeds Contempt.
The Simpsons has been on the air since 1989. 1989! Even if it had remained the funniest thing on television – and it hasn't – the audience would inevitably drift away. Part of being a success is knowing when to quit.
6: With So Many Classic Episodes, Who Needs Fresh Product?
From approximately 1991 to 1996, The Simpsons gave us some of television's greatest ever moments. The Springfield Monorail, Homer in space, the episode where he goes back to college. With so many classics in the bank, it has become pointless for the Simpsons to try to better itself. How do you improve on perfection?
7: Bart and Lisa are still kids and it's getting a weird.
Twenty-seven seasons in, the perpetual childhoods of Bart, Lisa and Maggie are starting to turn a little freaky. If you were a teenager when you discovered The Simpsons, it's creepy to watch these cartoon Dorian Grays on screen, unchanged apart from the fact they aren't as funny as they used to be.