Friday dilemma: Should the Simpsons have grown older?
Five hundred episodes and 23 seasons into its extraordinary life, the Simpsons is a pop culture phenom like no other. Interestingly, it was once regarded as counter-cultural and dangerous. Now it’s considered as American as apple pie.
Much has changed in American life over 23 years. Two generations of Bush presidents have come and gone. The internet became a tool for people other than academics and computer geeks. Greed was good. Then bad. Then good, but with bad consequences.
But one thing has stayed the same. The Simpsons have not aged. Neither has anyone else in Springfield. Homer is still 36, paunchy and severely balding. Lisa is still eight and precocious. Maggie still sucks her dummy. Mr Burns is still about 1,000 years old, not 1,023.
Today’s dilemma is a simple one. Would the show have worked if the Simpson family had aged?
The show has on several occasions flirted with future scenarios. A classic case was the episode where a grown up Lisa almost married an Englishman.
But mostly, the show takes place in the America of the day, with the characters the same age they were the previous season. They can do this in cartoons, of course. In real life, people look older and a little more crinkled each year. Well, unless they’re Madonna.
If the Simpsons had aged, Maggie would now be 24. Lisa would be 31. Bart would be 34 and probably nearly as bald as Homer. Marge and Homer would be fast approaching 60. Catwise, the family would be up to about Snowball 5 by now.
Problem is, most shows starring actual humans lose their appeal as the characters age. Beverly Hills 90210 sucked mightily once it became impossible to conceal the fact that Luke Perry and Jason Priestly were over 30. Actually, Beverly Hills 90210 just sucked mightily from the beginning.
Well, you tell us. Would you be more inclined to tune in to the ongoing saga of an ageing Simpson family, or do you prefer ‘em fresh-faced and frozen in time, even as the world changes around them?
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