History of The Simpsons: The Evolution of Homer

-- edited by Jan De Volder

August 1 1997 - The Simpsons, created by cartoonist Matt Groening (and named to the members of his family -- except for Bart, which is an anagram for Brat), appeared in 1897 as a serie of 30-second spots produced for the FOX Emmy Award-Winning variety series The Tracey Ullman Show. The Simpsons premiļæ½red on FOX as a half hour-comedy on January 14, 1990. Confirmed by fans and critici to be the most hilaric and lifelike portraits of the average American family, the series received the 1990 and 1991 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Animated Program.

The Simpsons, living in the community of Springfield, include Homer, a father wo gives bad advice and works as safety inspector at the nuclear power plant; Marge, a loving mother and wife who tries to reserve the peace in the family; Bart, a ten year old anarchist; Lisa, a smart, philosophical girl of ten years old, who loves to play the saxophone; and Maggie, the baby, who sucks her pacifier while watching the rest of the family quarrel.

THE SIMPSONS has a more colorfull history and a bigger influence on the world than any other television series. The show carries catchy phrases as "Cowabunga", "Aye Caramba", "D'oh!", "Eat my shorts!" and "Don't have a cow, man!" which has become part of the daily vocabulary of many viewers.

The biggest compliment the show ever received is the political disorder it produced and still produces, of which former Vice President Dan Quayle is painfully aware. While visiting the New Yersey Elementary School (6/15/92), the vice president corrected a young student's spelling of the word "potato" by making it "potatoe", only to find that the student was right and he was wrong! The opening credits of The Simpsons on June 25 1997 showed Bart, writing a sentence over and over again on the blackboard as a punishment for a prank he played. This time Bart wrote: "Potatoe, not potatoe"
According to Matt Groening, it was Bart's idea.

Of course, the show has received a lot of criticism. Politically that is. Former first lady Barbara Bush said in an interview appearing in "people" magazine (september, 1990) that The Simpsons was the dumbest thing she's ever seen. Marge Simpson wrote mrs. Bush a letter give her a piece of her own mind. Surprisingly enough, mrs. Bush responded in two weeks with a letter asking for forgiveness for "a loose tongue".

In a speech of "The National Religious Broadcasters convention" (01/27/92), former president George Bush said: "The nation should mirror itself more to the Waltons, instead of The Simpsons". This time Groening responded: "Hey, The Simpsons are just like The Waltons, both families spend a lot of time praying for the end of the depression!" His response appeared in newspapers all over the world.

In January '95, a group of parents in Greenwood, S.C., protested against the decision of the school council to let the school to be built there, be named Springfield Elementary. That happened because the school council let the students pick the name of the school. The parents accused Bart Simpson to be a bad example for the youth and that the district should not honor the name of Bart's school. The school council, who previously was not aware of the background of the school's name, stayed with their decision; the name was chosen: Springfield Elementary.

The Simpsons also have a couple of good deeds on their name. A mother in Auburn, Washington, says that The Simpsons saved her son's life. Karen Beneze tells us that eight year old Alex was choking on an orange. Chris, his brother, performed the Heimlich-manoeuvre, removed the orange and Alex' breathing returned to normal. Karen claims that her son used this technique because he saw an episode of Homer eating a donut and choking on it. Actually, the Heimlich manoeuvre was never really performed in the show. Homer managed to cough up the donut himself while his collegues were watching a poster projecting the steps of the manoeuvre.

Naturally, animated characters depend upon voices to help bring them to life, and The Simpsons are no exception. The voices behind these characters include Dan Castellaneta as Homer, Julie Kavner as Marge, Nancy Cartwright as Bart, Yeardley Smith as Lisa and series regulars HarryShearer and Hank Azaria who play a variety of roles... Troughout its first 100 episodes, The Simpsons has attracted nearly as many celebrity guest voices to its ranks. These famous guests have included Elizabeth Taylor, Sting, Johnny Carson, Michael Jackson, Bette Midler, Luke Perry, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Penny Marshall and Bob Hope.

The series has spawned an abundance of merchandice bearing the likenesses of Groening’s creations.
One would have to look far and wide to find a place where there is not a mug, beach towel, t-shirt, board game, wristwatch, puzzle, notebook, pencil or backpack with Homer, Bart, Lisa and Maggie proudly telling the world that the owner is a certified fan. There is even a platinum ( sales of bigger than one million copies ) recording entitled "THE SIMPSONS SING THE BLUES". Now there is also a CD called "Songs in the key of Springfield : original themes from the show".

Winner of the 1990 and 1991 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Animated Program ( and winner of a nomination in 1992 ), THE SIMPSONS is executive produced by three time Academy Award and eleven-time Emmy Award winner James L. Brooks and Matt Groening, along with David Mirkin, Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein. THE SIMPSONS is a Gracie Films Production in association with Twentieth Television.


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