Remember when The Simpsons first aired and it was considered controversial television. Well, time’s have changed, so let’s jump in that time machine and pull back the curtain on the show that changed pop culture for the better.
You wouldn’t know it, but The Simpsons started off as a series of short skits that played on The Tracy Ullman Show. The creator Matt Groening was at the time primarily known for his comic series Life in Hell. Life in Hell was more mature than The Simpsons and primarily followed a rabbit staring down the absurdities of life. The comic already contained a lot of the DNA that would come to be found in The Simpsons including the art style. They’re worth a read if you enjoy comics like Dilbert. After The Tracy Ulman Show, Fox ordered a season of the show and thus turning those little skits into one of the finest sitcoms ever made.
Season 1 contains thirteen episodes. Here are the highlights:
Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire
From the very beginning, the first episode is a representation of the best The Simpsons has to offer. That’s heart and humor. The episode is similar to Christmas Vacation. We see that Homer doesn’t receive his Christmas bonus at work and has to take on a night job as a store Santa so his family can celebrate Christmas. Even with all Homer’s hard work things don’t go as planned. By the end we see Homer may not be the smartest man or the richest but he is the man we admire for trying.
Already by episode three, you can tell this is definitely not a children’s show. Why? Well, Homer writes a suicide letter and sets himself in motion to kill himself after losing his job and believing himself to be a failure. Homer changes his mind when his family come out to stop him and are almost killed from a speeding car through a busy intersection. This arc ends with Homer becoming the safety officer of the Nuclear Plant.
Life on the Fast Lane
This is the first episode we see Marge and Homer’s marriage on the rocks, and Marge actually gets close to leaving Homer. There’s a lot of subtlety between Homer and Marge when she’s out every night “bowling” in the acting. When animation typically can become outrageous this episode relies a lot on human emotion… err Simpson emotion. Homer not being able to come straight out and say how much Marge means to him decides to say it in an offhand way by explaining how much the sandwiches Marge makes every day are like no other, essentially saying she’s perfect.
These three episodes are the standouts of season one for me and really go to show why this show became the enduring hit it still stands to be.
Next time The Simpsons: Season 2