Arts Illustrated

April 23, 2020

D’oh! It’s Art!

This week we turn to the Simpsons, the longest running sitcom in the United States and its many connections to d’oh, art!

Vani Sriranganayaki

Time magazine named it 20th century’s best television series. And we couldn’t agree more (high five to all The Simpsons fans in the house!). Having received dozens of awards including 34 Primetime Emmy Awards, 34 Annie Awards, and a Peabody Award, it is credited to have influenced a generation of adult-oriented animated sitcoms. It even foretold the current Trump presidency back in 2000! Yep. Welcome to the longest running sitcom in the United States starring Homer, Marge, Lisa, Maggie and Bart Simpson.

The Simpsons debuted in December 1989 and in 31 seasons since it has broadcasted 680 episodes. When you take a minute to let those numbers sink in, it comes as no surprise that in the year 2000, the Simpson family was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, that they were featured in a feature-length film and in a video game in 2007 or that Homer’s exclamatory catchphrase ‘D’oh!’ has been adopted into the English language!

Created by Matt Groening, who developed it with James L. Brooks and Sam Simon. the animated sitcom is a satirical depiction of working-class life set in the fictional town of Springfield. It parodies American culture and society, television, and the human condition.

Art obviously is the tool the show runners use to deepen conversations around pop culture – its award-winning team of artists, designers and animators stand testament to the fact. But what sets them apart is that they are unafraid to put themselves within the crosshairs – often resulting in subtle yet diabolical nods directed towards the ever-so-out-of-reach art world.

From Presidents, politicians, famous actors and musical icons to celebrated movie franchises, classics in cinema, contemporary television, cartoons and video games – The Simpsons has always been a gold mine for pop culture references. ‘Matt Groening’s iconic animated series turned hyper-referentiality into an art form, regularly packing in throwaway references to high and low culture right from the start.’ – Darren Franich, Entertainment Weekly


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