To Binge or Not to Binge Episode 71: ‘The Simpsons’


Hannah Allred

(Graphic by Hannah Allred | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Abigail Bowé, Arts Writer


In the wide realm of all postmodern media, if not all televised animation, there’s no series quite as iconic as “The Simpsons.”

Created by animator Matt Groening, it’s the longest-running scripted show to have ever aired on primetime TV. Detailing the lives of the Simpson’s family, made by the match between the loveable oaf Homer, his intelligent wife Marge and their kids — Bart the troublemaker, Lisa the peacemaker and Maggie the baby — the series takes a whimsical, surreal and often dreamlike look into contemporary American suburbia. Teetering between territory as strange as space exploration or as ordinary as blue-collar work meetings, the series covers nearly everything that a person could think of, from business to family to current events. Known for famous visuals such as the character’s distinct yellow skin and Homer’s pink sprinkled doughnuts, “The Simpsons” is nothing short of a landmark in pop culture.


To Binge or Not to Binge?

I adore “The Simpsons,” but please — for the love of all that is good about this series — don’t binge it. At least, don’t try to watch every episode of this show one after the next in unbroken succession. If most anyone did this, they’d be quick to give up on the wonderful cartoon altogether.

The fact is, for as clever and sharp as “The Simpsons” can be, not all of it is equal in terms of quality. Some episodes are dated in their satire, with featured celebrities that neither you nor I am at all familiar with and riffs on old news and technology that we’ve all but forgotten about at this point. It has its own highs and lows, simultaneous controversies and progressiveness, and sparks of genius and drags of dullness. Trying to intake all of it at once wouldn’t make for the greatest television watching experience.

With that, there are brilliant moments from “The Simpsons” which are absolutely timeless and perfectly reflect the legacy that the series has had on modern comedy and animation. When it comes to this series, it’s better to pick and choose what to watch based on what you want to see. Some episodes are better for their comedy, others for their commentary, a few more still for the impressive displays of creative animation, and then there are those with the most thoughtful writing and storylines. Sometimes “The Simpsons” floats over its own canon with the outlandish and ridiculous, while at other times it prods into genuine character development.

You may wish to look up episodes based on the guests, the social issues it tackles, movie spoofs, character arcs or jokes. It’s even possible to pick what to watch based on the “couch gags,” occasional variations that the series makes with its iconic intro theme. When it comes to having fun with “The Simpsons,” you can hardly go wrong. Just keep in mind that it’s a mixed bag. I wouldn’t have it any other way.


Best Episode

It’s impossible to choose which episode of “The Simpsons” is the best in a definitive sense, given that the series is so varied from episode to episode. In terms of each of these points, any fan of the show could easily pick a top episode under several types of criteria.

For my own personal favorite, however, I’ll have to stick with “And Maggie Makes Three,” the 13th episode of season six.

Out of every episode I’ve seen of the series, this heartfelt one has stuck with me the most. After Homer quits his tedious job at the power plant, he is forced to decide whether to return to it after he discovers that Marge is pregnant with his third child. Unlike many episodes of the series that only aim to make you laugh, this one — a genuinely nuanced reflection of parental love — aims to punch with tender emotion.


Similar Shows

It’s difficult to compare “The Simpsons” to other television programs, as it’s simply so unique in terms of its aesthetics. Aside from this, it’s generally a far more family-friendly series from other “adult” animated shows like “South Park” or “Rick and Morty,” which likewise makes comparison tricky. Nonetheless, “The Simpsons” does share sensibilities with Matt Groening’s other series “Futurama” and “Disenchantment.” Other suitably comparable cartoons to this show, which share more lighthearted satiric takes on suburbia, include “King of the Hill” and “Bob’s Burgers.”


Trigger Warnings

While I would deem several episodes of “The Simpsons” perfectly safe to watch with kids, others are certainly aimed at more mature audiences. At times, the series features mild profanity, sexual references and innuendoes and cartoon violence.


4.5 out of 5 stars

Available to stream on Disney Plus, Hulu and YouTube TV

31 seasons, 676 episodes, approximately 250 hours total


[email protected]