In this week’s edition of Why I Stan, we speak to the super-fan behind On This Day In Simpsons History about their love of the popular TV show.
The Simpsons has been on air for decades. Do you have any memories of the first time you watched the show?
I had watched them since the Tracey Ullman days, but I still remember the first episode that I recorded on VHS was Season 2’s “Dancin’ Homer,” which would be the first of hundreds I recorded. I would pause the recording when the commercials hit so I wouldn’t have to watch them when I watched the episodes again. Of course, when the episode came back from commercial, my response was a little late, so any time I see those episodes now, I can remember the moment my recording would cut back into the episodes.
Was there an episode that triggered your fandom, or did it happen over time?
When the show began to reference itself and its fans (I think “The Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie Show” was one of the first blatant examples of this), I really got a kick out of it because I felt I knew exactly what they were talking about and the kinds of fans they were talking to.
What is it about The Simpsons that you love? And what has the show brought to your life?
There are so many layers written into the show. There are still new jokes to discover on episodes of The Simpsons decades after they aired, even if you’ve watched it dozens of times. Even the writers have admitted to missing jokes in episodes they worked on!
You run a popular Twitter account and write articles about The Simpsons. Can you tell us more about this and the other ways you express your fandom?
The show has a lot of fans and there are a lot of resources already available from other super fans, so finding a project worthwhile that I know I’d love to do has been a great exploration. The Twitter account is one of those positive aspects of that website; it’s great to share something folks don’t usually notice on a daily basis and to have a regular connection to the writers, directors and producers who made all of these classic episodes. I’ve also been running a super-popular quarterly (formerly monthly) trivia night in Chicago for over 10 years which is probably the closest experience to an (unofficial) Simpsons fan convention you’ll get.
There are critics of The Simpsons who say the show began to lose its mojo by season 10. What is your reaction to critics of the show?
I would say a lot of those arguments – that the show ran out of steam, or went off the rails with stories and characters – are valid, but one thing a lot of people don’t consider are that the show’s original rabid fans, young kids in the 1990s, graduated high school, went to college and/or graduated college around the time that “classic Simpsons” period ended. I can only speak for myself, but I know once I graduated high school in 1997 and started going to college in 1999, watching the show didn’t become as much of a priority as it was when I was younger.
What is your favourite episode of The Simpsons? And why?
This answer always changes, but “Dancin’ Homer” holds a special place in my heart since it was the first episode I recorded. Possibly “Homer at the Bat” or “Homer’s Barbershop Quartet” (The Beatles are another obsession). Almost anything from Season 3 or 4 is perfect, though.
And your favourite character?
Homer, but I do love Phil Hartman’s Troy McClure and Lionel Hutz.
What are your hopes for the future of The Simpsons?
At nearly 750 episodes, the show continues to make money for Disney and the audience that are actually watching it are generally still enjoying it. I just hope they decide to retire it when one of the main cast members passes on. There are other cast members (like Hartman and Marcia Wallace) that were never replaced, although others were (Russi Taylor). I would think main cast members should be afforded the same level of respect for their decades of work on the show.
Follow On This Day In Simpsons History on Twitter – On This Day in Simpsons History 🇺🇦 (@dailysimpsons) / Twitter
Check out their YouTube channel – https://www.youtube.com/@dailysimpsons
And their trivia night – https://www.facebook.com/groups/woohootriviachi/