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Tuesday, 7 May, 2002, 09:03 GMT 10:03 UK
The Simpsons: Is it time to end the show?
The creator of The Simpsons, Matt Groening, has denied rumours that the show might be ending soon.
It was reported on Tuesday that Groening said it was very difficult for the production team "to keep on not only surprising the audience, but surprising ourselves."
But on Wednesday Groening said he had been misunderstood and that the Simpsons would live on for years to come.
The show has earned more than $1bn for Rupert Murdoch's Fox Entertainment Group and is said to be one of the most popular cartoon series ever. It is watched by 60 million people worldwide.
Groening said the ratings were better than ever and he was not bored or unhappy with the programme.
Though Groening said he and his team were always striving to make the characters and storylines better, some critics say it has become obvious in the past few months that the writers were running out of ideas.
What do you think? Is it time to end the show?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
I think the Simpsons is pure, unbridled genius. A real treat after a hard day at school is to watch a 20-minute satire of the world you've just been living in. As long as humans exist, we will have the need, and more importantly, the desire, to laugh at ourselves. After all, without laughter, what else is there?
Chris Gray, USA
The end?! D'oh!
The Simpsons are the best! You never know what's going to happen and its progressive humour lightens up almost anyone's mood.
Homer good. Need more.
As their accountants probably say, "It's no longer making enough D'oh!"
I've been a fan of the Simpsons since the Tracy Ulman Show, but I feel the writers hit a wall about four or five years ago. Then they pulled through and became inventive again. I think the most interesting episodes are those without the celebs and that keep the story consistent with earlier episodes (i.e. in one earlier episode Homer's teen years were in the 70s, then later it was in the 80s).
Comedy for me is the collective appreciation of the 'Human Condition', and it's the empathy that 'The Simpsons' delivers that makes it so universally appealing. During my travels I've seen 'The Simpsons' in many languages and often find people who prefer it in English to their own language, others say it's even better in their own tongue than in English. It shows us that humans have more similarities than differences and it's this positive message that the show delivers worldwide. A show that talks this universal language is something to be kept.
Stale; I've not found it so; the writers have 'the human condition' in all it's forms as inspiration (if they're out of material; they're not looking hard enough). In it's early days 'The Simpsons' was noted for it's ability to make both adults and kids laugh (albeit at different things), how many other shows in history have been able to replicate this across the globe and all it's various cultures, races and religions, yet deliver a generic 'feel-good' message while neither preaching, nor moralising? Long may 'The Simpsons' continue!
I believe that the Simpsons has become nothing but an excuse for celebrities to appear on the show. Matt should have finished it when he was at the end of the middle series, when the show was in a golden age for wit and storylines.
Peter Nelson, USA
Everything comes to a standstill in my house when the Simpsons comes on. I have four children who will all be very upset if the series were to end.
The Simpsons may not be at their best, but they are still a thousand times better than any other program on TV - their problem is that they have raised the bar so high. I have watched many earlier episodes over and over and I still find something new and laugh again at the jokes. The whole team under Matt Groening are truly amazing.
I may be wrong, but I think the show hit a turn for the worst when Phil Hartman died and so did all of his hilarious characters - I don't know if his tragic death affected the writers or maybe it was just a coincidence. Either way, it has definitely gone down in quality and seems to have increased in quantity. Time to throw in the towel, it seems. (besides, just because they stop making new ones doesn't mean they can't keep showing the old ones in syndication).
Although the jokes may be different now and according to some, might not be as good, The Simpsons jokes to me appeal to a more teenage group. I am a teenager and the most recent episode I saw I thought was fantastic, and the plot was brilliant.
The time has come for The Simpsons to step aside while it can still retain its dignity. I'm a massive fan and have been for many many years and I can clearly see that the writers have been struggling for a while now. The satire that once brightened the show is sadly lacking. Its good that it goes now so we remember the show as a great, rather then letting it limp on and tarnish our memories.
If the dull Coronation Street has managed to last this long, I'm sure the Simpsons can keep going for a while yet!
A different James, United Kingdom
If it means that Groening can devote his attention to creating new shows as entertaining as The Simpsons and Futurama, then perhaps it's time for the Simpsons to turn in their towels. They've had a record run, somehow keeping their audiences rolling in the aisles for 13 years, and they will always be remembered with great fondness and appreciation. But they can't go on forever... can they?
I personally feel that the more recent
Simpson episodes are not of the calibre
of the earlier seasons. Relying more on
Homer's stupidity and clumsiness in some
cases than clever jokes or character stories.
It is very sad to say, but I think it may
indeed be time for the Simpsons to retire.
I think Futurama is great and hopefully the
creativity of the Simpsons team can be used
there, or elsewhere. My opinion only.
Perhaps the producers should reduce the frequency at which they produce episodes. Give the writers a chance to come up with some better material, if indeed the quality has degraded as people are saying.
Ben Smith, UK
I guess all good things have to come to an end - but I can't understand why there hasn't been a film yet. Surely that would be a great way to stretch the format and their talents into making a new kind of story with these amazing characters they have built up over the years. I heard a rumour that three films were going to be made... is there any truth to this?
Although I may be slightly drunk, it does not undermine my perception of the Simpsons, quite literally, being the best television show of all-time. The comedy never fails in each and every episode, and it is the only American import which does not idealise American society (Cheers, Friends), and for this reason it is so successful. I do not believe that it should finish, because it will leave a huge gap in many lives. Trust me, I'm one of those people.
The problem with most good TV series is that they go on too long. Television companies want to stick with the winning formula. The Simpsons has been one of the best-ever satires on modern life, but it is probably time to bring down the curtain. If only we could do the same with sports commentators and newsreaders after they have had a decent run!
Baz C, England
What a lot of people fail to realise is that stopping production of The Simpsons will not mean that it will be off our screens forever. We should simply let it go and allow it to become part of television history. Such programmes as Tom and Jerry are still shown and loved today, despite production stopping years ago. In short, why spoil it at this point?
The first six seasons of the Simpsons were
excellent, but the past few have only shown flashes of the
once original and down-to-earth story lines. Far too many of the
stories these days are very far fetched to say the least, and
if they create one more episode where Sideshow Bob
is plotting against Bart I will scream!!
In the history of television there has never been a long running series, of any type, that hasn't had its share of downs. If the team are running out of ideas then maybe a few additions or changes to the team might help generate a few new ideas. The characters are as funny today as they were yesterday. The show is ultimately about real life and there are too many things going on in this dynamic world of ours for the sources of inspiration to ever dry up.
Without doubt The Simpsons has had an astonishing impact on the world. Some of the funniest episodes were taken from current events and in that respect they may be able to continue. But far too many shows were general observational humour and eventually these ideas will run out. Surely if the creator is prepared to publicly admit the difficulties, what merit would there be in flogging the proverbial?
James Clarke, England
Are you serious? The Simpsons is one of the main components of our TV diet. No doubt the show would continue to grace our screens through that miracle known as 'repeat programming' but we need more than that. Futurama was supposed to be to the Simpsons what Star Trek the Next Generation was to the original, but it never quite happened. the Simpsons still sits in the driving seat and long may it remain so. To cancel the show would be to deprive present and future generations of a great escape and, let's face it, possibly the most accurate portrayal of the average family that we will ever see. Matt Groening may be getting tired of it, but we certainly aren't.
If you look at what happened to Tom and Jerry
in the 1970s, I think you have answered the
question. I don't want there to be "classic" Simpsons
and "the later stuff", I think that situation would become inevitable.
The Simpsons represents the greatest satire in the English language since Swift. The massive corpus of characters in Springfield present seemingly infinite story and joke possibilities. The Simpsons on its worst day has three times the invention of any of its peers. Long may it continue.
Stop the Simpsons ?! My God, my world would fall apart but for the 15 four-hour video tapes I have of the programme. It is without a doubt the finest cartoon series ever made. When ever I feel down I slam in a Simpsons tape and hey presto, Homer and his antics make me forget my worries. My hat goes of to you Mr Groening and I thank you for the hours and hours of pleasure you have given me. You deserve a medal !
Good sit-coms never die they just spin-off.
I've been an avid Simpsons fan for many years but recently (in the last year or two in fact) the amazing story lines and satirical gags have albeit disappeared in favour of shabbily cobbled together episodes featuring barrel scraping slapstick and a dumbing down of the storylines. I've reached point where I cannot bring myself to sit through an episode unless it's one from the halcyon days of the early to mid nineties. So my plea to Mr Groening is to do the decent thing and quit while you're marginally ahead. We will always have the classic re-runs.
I think it's a fantastic cartoon, but at the frequency which they turn them out, it's bound to get tired sooner or later. Wind it down for a while, then maybe make a few "special" programmes when the ideas are there, (rather than making up ideas to fill up the programme). It pains me to say it as this is one of the few shows I bother even switching the set on for.
Simpsons pay per view would make more money the Nationwide League ever would!
I would be deeply saddened if The Simpsons went out of production. That is pretty much the only show I ever watch on TV. Everything else seems bland and boring compared to The Simpsons. It's amazing how even the repeats seem somewhat fresh to me, as compared to all the other cliche and 90210 wannabes. The Simpsons really can't go wrong with what ever they do. The fan base is there, so they might as well keep' em. I just love it that such a popular show can poke so much fun at society and the leaders.
The Simpsons is the only show that truly shows the realities of the majority of Americans. Although taken to exaggerated lengths, the show exposes the ignorance and arrogance of the typical, middle class American. The Simpsons consistently reminds us of the ridiculous things we, as Americans, do every day. If The Simpsons are cancelled, then there is nothing left on television worth watching! It is truly a public service, and the messages should not be taken lightly by the rest of the world. Viva los Simpsons!
To Ben Osborne: Speak for yourself. Perhaps you are ignorant and arrogant, but most Americans are not. Is Homer arrogant? Is Lisa ignorant? No. I think the Simpsons highlights American compassion, tolerance, and dazzling diversity.
It should have ended several seasons ago. I think it has become increasingly slapstick, and that the wit, intelligence and satire that made it so original are largely gone. I no longer enjoy it.
Mark Salathiel, UK
The Simpsons has been astonishingly consistent, and I'm sure that Matt Groening and his team could continue to make fantastic comedy if they wanted to. But if the show's no fun for them any more, maybe now's the time to stop. There's nothing preventing them coming back in a few years.
The Simpsons has produced humour which survived longer than any show I can remember. The script writers of this show are some of the most talented people around, providing adult humour which is transparent to younger audiences. To stop production of this show would be a great loss. Long live Homer !!
Before people wish away the Simpsons they should pause and think what it could be replaced with: More episodes of "The world's maimingest police chases", "When chihuahuas attack" and "Half an hour of people falling over at weddings"? I'd prefer less than fresh Simpsons episodes over the rest of the trash any time.
Paul Miller, UK
The Simpsons has long passed its creative best. Let it be laid to rest before it gets even worse. Futurama clearly surpasses it and should take the spotlight now.
As a huge fan of The Simpsons, I've been disappointed in the decline of the show over the past year or two.
Despite this, Groening's other show, Futurama, continues to go from strength to strength despite being treated abysmally by its network in the US.
Perhaps it's time to cash in with the long-rumoured Simpsons movie, and then put the franchise to rest.
In the beginning, the scriptwriters had so many ideas that there were at least two separate plotlines to each episode. At the moment, there is barely one. There still are moments of pure comedy, but they aren't enough to hide the big lack of ideas.
Adrian Fairburn, United Kingdom
The Simpsons has been doomed for some time. Its life span could have been increased by letting the characters age and develop. But then maybe its charm is something to do with its timelessness. What do you think?
I think that if the creators are getting tired then by all means the show should end. By far one of the best-written satirical shows that have ever been produced, much of its humour is based on the wit and cynicism of its creators. If they don't enjoy doing it any more, or find the current status getting stale, it would better for us all to let it sail into the sunset rather than become another tired Sunday night tradition. I would rather be left with wanting more than feeling nostalgic for a time once gone.
Pete, Nottingham, UK
The only annoying thing about The Simpsons are the adverts. Keep The Simpsons, lose the boring repetitive adverts (or make them funny too)!
What do I care? Now ITV Digital (UK digital TV) is gone, I can't see the more recent episodes anyway.
Cash in more and make a movie. Merchandising will never end.
The Simpsons is the best sitcom ever, but its golden era has passed. More recent episodes lack the clever wit or satirical eye of vintage Simpsons, and rely too heavily on viewers' familiarity with the characters and old jokes. This sort of complacency is inevitable: it's clear that Groening's attention has shifted to the often excellent Futurama. So yes, Simpsons should have finished three or four years ago.
Dan Reichart, USA
Surely as time, fashion and cultures change, new personalities will appear that the Simpsons can successfully satire? The family and the inhabitants of Springfield are used as a sounding board to reflect the writer's views on the current socio-political climate. The Simpsons is so much more then 20 minutes of wicked comedy and as such must go on, more so than the lame soap operas that we currently have on TV.
What, and lose one of the few reasons to actually turn on the TV?
The minute a show starts doing 'Flashback' episodes (usually entailing characters harking back to moments in previous shows) then you know the days are numbered. Early Simpsons episodes made parody of this sitcom trait but had now fallen into the same rut as Friends and Frasier. Time to move on.
Andrew T is right about flashback episodes. They had one a few weeks ago and it was awful. The current season has been uneven at best. But with better writing there's no reason the show can't go on forever.
Any great champion needs to go out on a high and leave 'em shouting for more. I think that by now everyone has figured out that it is the coach potato viewer being shown. Time for Bart to be allowed to grow up and walk into obscurity.
Simon Mallett, UK
When it first started, The Simpsons was on its way to becoming an anti-sitcom, with its characters and situations being more human than the live-action series out there. When it became a hot bed for celebrity guest voices to point out how silly certain aspects of current pop culture are and, in the process, showing us one more time just how stupid Homer really is, I gave up on it. It's about six years past its prime, and I say it's time to bury it. I haven't laughed out loud at it in ages; I haven't even had an amused chuckle.
The Simpsons is as good now as it ever was. The difficulty is the limit as to how much can be achieved within the existing format without repeating itself. British TV is littered with examples of shows that went on too long - for example, 'Allo! 'Allo! or Are you Being Served? If Matt Groening and company can bring more flexibility to the format then there is no reason why The Simpsons cannot go on. Otherwise I think it would be best to quit whilst still ahead. No matter what, The Simpsons will live forever in TV history, sitting alongside shows like The Flintstones and Scooby Doo which are still enjoyed today even though they finished production years ago.
Homer is the funniest character in the world, he makes me laugh more now then he ever did. Plus if you take it off I will not have anything to watch at seven o'clock every night.
Don't stop The Simpsons - without it Americans may actually start taking themselves more seriously. Scary. In any case, as long as there is an America to parody, there should be a parody of America
We watch the repeats over and over again... and we don't get bored...
I always thought the Simpsons would go on forever - I wish it would. And Futurama. I can't believe they may be terminally ill.
The Simpsons is the most fantastic show ever. It has so many levels of humour- to axe The Simpsons would be criminal.
Perhaps if Sky one and BBC2 didn't insist on bombarding us with repeated episodes, The Simpsons may have retained some of its originality. I once recall seeing the 'Homer goes to Space' episode three times within the space of one month. Saying that, I do have to admit watching it in full each time it was shown.
ER, N. Ireland
I'm a huge Simpsons fan but even I have to admit that the show is now very tired. It's still very good but the plots are aimless and the humour has become repetitive. Although after so many hundreds of episodes I guess it is hard for the writers to think of new ideas. I think the Simpsons should definitely conclude its long run with a feature film.
Definitely time to end. It's become the TV scheduler's dream come true, with at least two episodes nightly on a certain TV channel, more at weekends and even more on so called special events. Give it a rest and give something else a chance to develop.
The last few seasons have been quite poor in comparison to the previous five or six years. Futurama would have been a fantastic continuation of this type of humour, but alas big US networks rule again. Homer Simpson is my hero!
The Simpsons brings entertainment whether through repeats or new episodes, why take it so seriously - it's fun.
Murray Robertson, United Kingdom
The Simpsons is still funny. I think that one of the problems in the UK is that most people watch it on Sky. Sky seem to repeat the same episodes over and over again (with the odd new one thrown in).
I vote for Sky showing the entire show in sequence from the beginning.
The Simpsons is one of the most celebrated shows ever, but you can have too much of a good thing. The past couple of seasons has been hit and miss - with the tendency to miss more often. Better to let a great show go out on a high than be tainted by slowly fading away.
To all those who want The Simpsons to end: Eat my shorts!
Steve Harrison, UK
I would be very sorry to see The Simpsons go. The format is wide enough to continue for some time. If the writers are running out of ideas, why not get new writers or reduce the number of programs per series?
Why stop it entirely? Just scale it back to the odd special.
Personally, I feel the show went off the boil around three seasons ago. Homer has become far too much a parody of himself (if I hear him use that US youth-chic phrase "parr-tay" once more I will boycott a certain pizza chain) and the storylines have eschewed class for crass. If you're going to keep it, I suggest ditching some of the trophy "name" guest-voices and bring back a more credible Homer J (and get Dan C to stop shouting).
While for me The Simpsons is still supremely inventive and well-observed, it has lost its way. I think the writing team have just been trying too hard. I agree with Peter Le Zouche, it's how Homer has changed that's the key to all this. Where before he was a fantastic caricature of middle America man, now he's, well, just far too clever. A dumb move.
I'm torn. A lot of recent episodes have been poorer, but there are still some genius moments. It is THE GREATEST TV show in history (this is not an opinion, it's a statement of fact) and let's face it, once it's gone, it's gone. There's still life in the old dog yet. I still think its a huge pity we've already lost Futurama, Family Guy, Dilbert, and King of the Hill when they were all in their prime, yet South Park has become stale and tired but continues.
The last episode of One Foot in the Grave showed that comedy writers always have more ideas than you think. In a flashback, Victor was seen going through more hilarious situations than ever. I think the same applies to the Simpsons. With their inspiration based on American life, on news and current affairs and on a large number of characters, they could go on forever, which may be why they need to stop. Matt Groening has shown his creative talents go beyond the Simpsons with a fine series (Futurama). I can't wait to see what his next idea will be.
I've always gotten a kick out of people like Pascal who say that the Simpsons are "based on American life." I don't know anyone who works in a nuclear plant or is addicted to donuts (except maybe a few cops), and I've never had an Indian immigrant break into song about his quickie mart in my living room. Do you really believe there is a town in the US that is divided over a citrus tree? (Americans drinking a lot of beer, on the other hand, is true). Actually, that's what makes it so funny; it shows the fringe elements, how poorly we could all behave if we tried. Plus, I've always enjoyed the occasional nod to other films ("Mrs. Bouvier! Mrs. Bouvier!"). I do agree, though, that it's time to go. We've gotten years out of the show - far longer than any other prime-time show I can think of - and it's better to quit on a high note. It would be nice to see them come back for holiday specials, though (you know, never completely go away...like the Who.)
Kujan is talking rubbish. Simpsons is the best show on this war-torn planet! Its a breath of fresh air and its just fabulous!!!
Definitely time to end it - I've never been a big fan. Homer, Marjorie and that small yellow kid are just getting too annoying!
Don't do it, long live the Simpsons!
The Simpsons is one of the greatest shows ever, delivering smart commentries on life that almost anybody can laugh with. But the concept is getting tired, we've explored the limits of the characters and the show was never meant to be based on current events or historical recreations alone. The show related to us, but has stopped doing so. Homer could say things we all thought. But he won't anymore.
And neither will it's cousin, Futurama
I am horrified at the possibility of my children growing up in a world without Simpsons. Won't somebody think of the children!
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