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New Meets Old on FOX’s Sunday Night

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I was sitting there last night watching The Simpsons, when a thought struck me (the same thought that usually strikes me when I watch The Simpsons) — how have these guys been doing the show for so many years and still manage to keep it funny?

Do you realize that the show started in 1989 (and was on Tracey Ullman before that)? That is a long time. A long time. There are students in college who were born after the show started its run. Do you see what I'm saying? Bart has been in the fourth grade for 19 television seasons. Nineteen. Sure, he got moved back to third grade for one episode, but that doesn't really count (as it also doesn't count that Lisa advanced from second to third grade for that episode).

I know that there has been a huge turnover in staff, including show runners, the style of comedy has morphed repeatedly, and the animation has improved, but through it all it's still The Simpsons and that's truly amazing. Plus, they don't show any signs of slowing down; they have greater and lesser seasons and episodes, but on the whole the quality is still there.

I think the jury is still out though on FOX's newest addition to the Sunday night lineup, Unhitched. The show premiered last night and stars Craig Bierko, Rashida Jones, Johnny Sneed, and Shaun Majumder. Rather than following the typical comedy route of a new couple, an old couple, and a dating couple, the show follows four friends who have all gotten divorced (or are in the process of doing so). It's certainly a different way to look at the world, and being that the show is exec-produced by the Farrelly Brothers, I would expect nothing less than "different." The question is whether the show will be different like There's Something About Mary, which would be good, or different like Me, Myself, & Irene, which wouldn't be.

The pilot episode showed potential and definitely established a good dynamic between the four main characters: Gator (Bierko), the corporate guy; Kate (Jones), the lawyer; Tommy (Sneed), the lay-about; and Dr. Freddy Sahgal (Majumder), the Indian doctor. So, maybe the dynamic exists because the characters are all relatively stock ones. I've liked both Bierko and Jones in other work that they've done, so that augers well for my feelings towards this show, too. On the other hand, why is it that the Indian stereotype character is totally acceptable in this day and age? Why is it that so many shows, movies, ads, etc., feel as though the Indian stereotype is one that they can get away with whipping out any old time they want it and not have to worry about getting hammered for doing so?

Frankly, it makes me a little uncomfortable, and yet, I love the Apu episodes of The Simpsons, so maybe I'm part of the problem and not part of the solution.

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.
  • Ty

    You are in the minority about the Simpsons. Most of us feel it is garbage now. I’m surprised anyone still finds it funny. I’ve tried to watch eps this season and last, and they just keep getting worse.

    I think FOX only keeps it around because FOX built its network on the Simpsons and feels like it owes the Simpsons.

    The Simpsons should be canned in a hurry so we can get a proper series finale, hopefully with writer Conan O’Brien writing the script.

    In the Simpsons Movie, they said all the old writers came back, except O’Brien. I know he’s busy, but the Simpsons need him for a great series finale.

  • Flectarn

    sure the episodes arn’t quite as good as they used to be… but their still better than almost anything else on tv right now.

    The main problem i think is that the episodes arn’t as long anymore, several minutes have been shaved off to allow for more comercials, which limits the ability to build the story line the same way they used to.