The Simpsons Case
- Pages: 6
- Word count: 1379
- Category: Simpsons
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A sitcom is a situational comedy television series. Sitcoms usually use comic devices to make them funny like puns, violence and exaggeration. They use satire, farce, parody, jokes, gags and slapstick to entertain the audience. Sitcoms usually last 30 minutes if shown on commercial TV and they involve chracters having problems which they try to sort out. “Leaver it to Beaver” was about a typical, white middle-class 1950’s family that had problems and worked together to work them out. They had the same sort of characters as “The Simpsons” but they didn’t have the same controversial issues.
When “All in the Family” aired in the 1970’s it was a different story. A black family was introduced and it dealt with controversial subjects in realistic ways. It was the first show to do so. This made it popular. Nowadays “The Simpsons” has taken its place. It ridicules important people and deals with subjects that were earlier described as forbidden. “The Simpsons” takes advantage of being an animated sitcom and makes some drastic changes in life, for example the family is yellow skinned, has 4 fingers and seems to not age at all. In certain scenes they may be badly injured, but in the next they are fine. This all makes “The Simpsons” enjoyable to watch.
The opening sequence tells us that the following programme is going to be a comedy. The soundtrack is quite fast and lively. As the clouds clear we see the words “The Simpsons” and then an aerial shot of Springfield. Our first expectations are that the town is normal and clean with no violence or pollution, but as we see more in the shot, we notice the nuclear power plant and the prison. This reveals that the town is not what we are expecting. It seems to be different (for TV land) even though the towns and cities we live in aren’t very different. We have pollution and crime.
We are then shown the school where Bart is writing on the blackboard. A clock shows it is after school and he is doing a detention. This showns he is mischievous. Next we go to the power plant where Homer is working. He is clumsy as he unknowingly drops a nuclear rod. We go to Lisa who is playing the sax. This shows that she is gifted. Marge is shopping. This reveals that she is a housewife and a good mother, but then she forgets her daughter, Maggie, which indicates that she may not be as good as we imagined. We are shown quick little images of all the characters, e.g. Krusty the clown, Moe, Barney, Police Wigam, who live in Springfield. Our expectations of this are that the town is full of normal people covering a range of different personalities.
“The Simpsons” follows a narrative structure that has been used in many other sitcoms. Each episode starts with a problem that threatens the values of the family. The family searches for a resolution to this conflict and as a result of their course of action they solve the problem. The characters then learn from this experience. The fact that there is this narrative sequence shows that “The Simpsons” is a typical sitcom. The episode, “The Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire” follows this narrative structure. It starts with it being Christmas and the family enjoying the time. Bart gets a tattoo and all the money from Christmas is spent on getting rid of it. This is the complication. The problem is meant to be resolved by Homer’s bonus but when he doesn’t receive it he tries to get a job but this doesn’t work as it is meant to. Homer feels like a failure, but when he and Bart take home Santa’s Little Helper (a dog) the problem is resolved. In another example, “Bart Gets an F “, Bart is doing badly in school. He will stay back a year if he fails again which is the complication, so he tries to revise. He still fails the test but he showns he has learnt something which makes him pass. This is the resolution. The family evaluate this and everything is back to normal. This reveals to us that every episode of “The Simpsons” follows the same narrative structure.
The stereotypes of the characters help show the audience what family life is really like. The characters are not stereotypes of normal TV families but of normal families. The show plays with what we are expecting; a nice family with the dad being the man of the house, good children; a family with no problems and really not a realistic family. The show plays with irony because although the family is the complete opposite of what we are expecting, the same morals and family values are shown. The Simpsons family shows an image of normal families, yet the way they are imperfect actually shows they are perfect. Although we see Bart stealing and Homer praising him for doing so, it is actually teaching a lot of values. The mistakes they make resemble ones that we may make, so in actual fact they help us to learn these values. The family; Homer being a clumsy and quite stupid dad, Marge being a housewife with a quite a dull life, Lisa being an intelligent daughter, Bart being mischievous and Maggie being silent is ironic because they are all happy doing wrong things but teaching us good things.
The Simpsons family are a dysfunctional family but they work in a functional way. We know this because although the family do things wrong or in a conflicting way family values are still taught. From our point of view when we see Homer being clumsy and Bart being bad it is not a good thing, but when we start to think about it we realise that there is nothing wrong with them. These events in fact make them better people. When we first see them we assume that they are realistic, but they are not because they do not try to be an ideal TV family. Although the family is dysfunctional from what we are expecting them to be, they are functional because they all lead happy lives and they live in a happy environment. The family functions by being dysfunctional. They all learn from doing bad things which teaches them good things. This helps the family to work together.
The Simpsons are not only a TV family, they are a realistic family as they are not a typical sitcom family. The family are role models for a lot of people. Bart, for example, is what young boys are like or want to be like. They like to think that they can do anything and will not get hurt by anything and Bart fulfils their dream. By watching Bart being stupid and clever at the same time it shows them that life can be fun. Homer can do this for a lot of middle-aged men who are fed up of work. “The Simpsons” ridicules important people and when it does this middle-class pople would like this because they realise that being important and famous isn’t what it seems to be.
“The Simpsons” has become the sitcom of the new generation and old. It pulls together the realities of life and shows them in a new more exiting way. Over the years “The Simpsons” has changed sitcoms into controversial and interesting programmes. The show is successful because of the way it plays with our expectations and how it blows them out of proportion. It has taken ideas from past sitcoms like “Leave it to Beaver” and improved them. As it is a animated sitcom it makes it funnier as characters can do things that could not be possible in reality. Even celebraties have taken a shine to the sitcom. “You can learn all life’s lesssons from watching The Simpsons ” Mel Gibson. “The Simpsons” is the sitcom of the 21st century dealing with real life problems in a comic way. I think that the show can is really good at what it is meant to do which is entertain the audience, it not only shows the audience how life is but also involves them.