The Simpsons is arguably one of the most beloved and well-known animated series in the last two decades. It would be hard to find someone who has never heard of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. For 20 years and over 400 episodes, the show has covered a multitude of topics that include family, culture, science, sports, and religion. It’s not surprising then, that the show has been used to liven up topics normally reserved for college lecture halls. A quick Amazon search turned up books exploring The Simpsons from a philosophical, religious, scientific, and psychological perspective.
Similarly, Tim Delaney’s Simpsonology: There’s a Little Bit of Springfield in All of Us heavily references the series when talking about basic sociological ideas such as friendship, politics, marriage, racism, and gender roles. For example, in talking about first crushes Delaney referred to the episode “I Love Lisa”, in which Ralph Wiggum develops a crush on Lisa when she gives him a Valentine’s Day Card out of kindness. When talking about religious beliefs, the author used the episode “In Marge We Trust,” in which Homer decides to stop attending church and in fact goes off to start his own. Here are some samples of Simpsons quotes Delaney used to highlight specific topics:
– Nuclear energy: Homer says, “We’re especially thankful for nuclear power, the cleanest, safest energy source there is, except for solar, which is just a pipe dream.”
– Education system: Principal Skinner says, “Now be careful with those video cameras, children. In order to buy them, the school board had to eliminate geography.”
– Politics: Krusty the Clown asks, “Are you guys any good at covering up youthful and middle-aged indiscretions?”
Simpsonology is really entertaining to read because of all the Simpsons references. Often times I caught myself laughing out loud. As I read, I couldn’t help but replay the scenes in my head, complete with the characters’ voices. Seriously, what long-time Simpsons viewer could forget Homer accidentally jumping over Springfield Gorge on Bart’s skateboard and his long, painfully funny fall down – twice? Or when Ralph calls the school superintendent “Super Nintendo Chalmers”?
Although it essentially is a heavily disguised sociology book, Simpsonology doesn’t read like a dry textbook. The language is user-friendly, and it stays away from more complex theories and ideas. It’s the type of book that an Introduction to Sociology professor would give to students as a fun but educational supplement to their other sociology textbooks. Since Delaney himself is a sociology professor, I’ll bet that’s exactly what he does.
My one concern however, is whether or not those sociology students still find The Simpsons relevant. Although it has a firm place in history (d’oh is in the dictionary!), the show is admittedly not as big as it used to be. Younger people are arguably more familiar with more recent animated shows like the immensely popular Family Guy. Simpsonology would most likely appeal to older fans of the series.Powered by Sidelines