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TV: I wish the Simpsons aged

Lisa's Wedding

Wikipedia quote: ""Lisa's Wedding" is the 19th episode of The Simpsons' sixth season, which originally aired March 19, 1995. The plot focuses around Lisa visiting a carnival fortune teller and learning about her future love."

As should be clear from the image above, the 1st of August 2010 was the date of Lisa’s wedding in the episode of the same name, which back in 1995 was still fifteen years away. Lisa was twenty-three and met Hugh at university, where they fell in love and planned to marry. That kind of flashforward is a common way for a programme to explore a future the show itself won’t reach, but the great (and sad) thing about The Simpsons is that it’s turned out to have a longevity few shows ever do, especially cartoons, to the point that it’s reaching the dates it used as a far off future.

But of course, the Simpsons don’t age. They’re forever trapped at the ages they were when the series started, stuck permanently in the same roles, regardless of how many times they celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas. That’s pretty standard for a cartoon but if the show’s creators had decided to age the characters with each passing year things would have been so very different now.

Caution: The rest of this post almost becomes fanfiction in its speculation.

Going by the starting ages on the Wikipedia page for each character, Homer would be 57 now and probably nearing retirement (if health issues hadn’t forced him out), Marge would be 55 (or maybe 57 once its revealed she and Homer went to school together and were in the same year) and no longer have her children to care for, Bart would be 31 and presumably in whatever job he’d be in for the rest of his working life, likely with a family, Lisa would be in her late twenties and in a successful career after having gone to college, maybe with a husband, and Maggie would be about 21, probably finishing up with college herself. In addition to the varied cast the actual Simpson part of The Simpsons would have expanded to at least three separate households (Marge & Homer, Bart, Lisa, with Maggie either back with her parents or also living somewhere new).

Doing it that way would have meant there would be less need for all the wackiness that the show employs these days, having long since done away with most of the tenderness and touching family moments in favour of hijinks. Homer wouldn’t need to be taking on new jobs every couple of weeks to keep things fresh (another Wikipedia quote: “Homer has held over 188 different jobs in the first 400 episodes of The Simpsons.“), and that could have been a theme for Bart, constantly getting fired from every job he worked in as a teenager and then an adult, Lisa’s development into vegetarianism and Buddhism and her human rights activism would have come about as she grew up instead of all while she was eight, there wouldn’t need to be any reboot episodes where Homer and Marge’s history is advanced through the decades, older characters would die off and younger ones would take their place.

Being in a situation where your show is so popular that it goes on for over twenty years is a nice situation to be in, but I can’t help thinking The Simpsons would have been better if they had been ageing and adapting to changing circumstances rather than the writers having to find entertaining things for people to do after more than two decades frozen at the same age.

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  1. January 2, 2011 at 20:05

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