SALT LAKE CITY — "The Simpsons" made their way onto America’s TV sets more than 30 years ago as a short during "The Tracey Ullman Show" in 1987. Two years later, Fox gave "The Simpsons" its own primetime TV spot, where it's stayed for a record-breaking 30 seasons, and just this week, Fox announced they've renewed the now-legendary show for another two seasons.
But for all its success, not everyone is a fan. From the show's outset, many parents didn’t want their kids seeing Bart disrespect his elders or Homer being a lazy husband and father. Yet, it was too easy for kids to follow Bart’s example and sneak around to watch it anyway (this writer included).
Over the course of its run (although less so in the recent years of its decline), "The Simpsons" has dominated pop culture. Lego and Hasbro made "Simpsons" toys and games, and the show dived into the virtual world, starting with a classic arcade game, then heading to home consoles and smartphones. “The Simpsons Tapped Out” app lets fans design their own Springfield.
Universal Studios designed a 3D ride and brought downtown Springfield to life with the Kwik-E-Mart, Moe’s Bar, Duff Gardens and a food court where one can eat as a Springfieldian and enjoy a patented Krusty Burger “Ribwich” or “Clogger” washed down with a Buzz Cola. There’s apparently a reason why several Simpsons characters are overweight.
Homer’s iconic catchphrase “D’oh” was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2001, which defined the word as “used to comment on a foolish or stupid action, especially one's own." Truly Homer’s existence.
Eventually, the group made its way to Hollywood in a full-length movie. In 2007, critics and fans watched their favorite dysfunctional family on the big screen, where it went on to earn $527 million worldwide. Rotten Tomatoes certified "The Simpsons Movie" as fresh with a critics' score of 88 percent.
And since its debut "The Simpsons" has won several awards, including 33 Emmys and more than 30 Annie Awards. They (literally) cemented their legacy in 2000 with their own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and it’s been named by many media outlets as one of the best TV shows of all time.
The golden years, which many consider to be seasons three through nine, helped the show reach the height of its popularity with musicals, Halloween specials, show crossovers and some of the wittiest writing on TV. But what goes up must eventually come down. During the “teens” seasons, "The Simpsons" remained a solid show to watch, but in years following ratings began to drop.
With the announcement of two more seasons, "The Simpson's" last years seem to finally be here. Although we don't know if it will get picked up again, it seems likely that the two forthcoming seasons will be its last.
When that day finally comes, as Homer and the family rush into the family room one last time, the only way to wrap up something this epic is to go beyond TV and the silver screen to … Broadway!
In 2017, Nickelodeon’s "SpongeBob SquarePants" paved the way when Bikini Bottom swam to the Great White Way. "SpongeBob Squarepants: The Musical" was a huge hit, earning 12 Tony Award nominations including best musical, best original score and best choreography. Who would have thought a kids’ cartoon about a sponge and his sidekick starfish would be so successful with refined theatergoers?
To pull this off, show creator Matt Groening needs to return to his roots and remember what made his show become such a hit — the brilliant writing. During the lifespan of "The Simpsons," many writers, artists and comedians contributed to its genius, including Conan O’Brien; Pixar’s Brad Bird; and Dan Povenmire and Jeff Marsh of "Phineas andFerb" fame. Then he should consider sprinkling in some creative spice from Broadway’s latest talent: "Hamilton’s" Lin-Manuel Miranda or Benj Pasek and Justin Paul of "Dear Evan Hansen." And, of course, don’t forget the musical genius of Danny Elfman, who composed "The Simpson’s" theme song.
Groening and team could revisit some of the great storylines and scenes. There are already many excellent songs to choose from: “The Monorail,” “Baby on Board,” “See My Vest” and many other gems — although any musical number could be used because, quite frankly, they’re all superb.1 comment on this story
And because loyal Simpsons followers feel like they’re part of the Springfield family (again, this writer included), we want to know how things end. Show writers have hinted at the future in “Lisa’s Wedding” and “Bart to the Future,” but these episodes only illustrate what could happen, not what actually does. Groening should reveal the fate of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, Maggie and other adored Springfieldians, especially since they haven’t aged in 30 years. Burning questions that need answering (brownie points if they’re set to music): Will Lisa end up with Millhouse or a Hugh Grant look-alike? Does Sideshow Bob manage to murder Bart? Can Flanders spend the rest of his life living next door to Homer? Will Monte Burns actually die? Does Maggie give up her pacifier? Will Barney ever sober up? Can Comic Book Guy actually eat 100 tacos? But probably the most important of all is about the Simpson’s family patriarch: Does Homer finally lose the last two hairs on his head?
Because the best way to end a piece of pop history is letting it live on — in song.