Elements Of Comedy In The Simpsons

Superior Essays
In the early 1950s up until the late 1960s, television was a colorless form of entertainment that many traditional American families so eagerly enjoyed together. Picture this, a father and mother lovingly sitting next to each other while their rambunctious children lay sprawled out in front of a boxed television set with unquenched enthusiasm. This is the image of a traditional, nuclear family—the epicenter of American values and way of life according to the mainstream media of the time. Likewise, it is also the trope of any situational comedy show. However, this charmingly picturesque image of idealistic expectations cannot be further from the truth of reality. Unlike its predecessors, contemporary television seeks to openly dissect and question …show more content…
These two elements, combined, function to create a snarky and meticulously crafted sense of humor that feeds into the postmodernist inclinations of contemporary television. Matheson explores this “sour” taste of comedy through his extensive analysis of The Simpsons. He argues that the show, “does not promote anything,” in this case, traditional family values. By extension, Matheson arguably demotes hyper-irony and deems it to be essentially depraved, “because its humor works by putting forward positions in order to undercut them.” While, yes, Matheson acknowledges the satirical nature of The Simpsons, he fails to fully grasp the immensity of its role within the show. According to Matheson, the nature of the show is relatively “depraved”— it does not promote the traditional family values of the past nor does it hold them to be sacred. The Simpsons, themselves, are a parody of the “McWASP” tradition of family sitcoms. However, this familiarity is an ingenious ploy—a device issued to closely dissect and criticize every facet of American culture. Rather than being the ideal picturesque family of the past, each member is uniquely flawed. This uncensored representation of family life initiates …show more content…
Episodes such as, “Homer’s Phobia” and “There’s Something About Marrying,” are a few prime examples of The Simpsons vehement support of the LGBTQ community. These episodes, clad in clever satire, aired at a time where stark opposition for the gay rights movement occurred. From the Defense of Marriage Act, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, to even Ellen DeGeneres’ sudden upheaval from Ellen (1994-1998)—The Simpsons have always displayed an earnest sensibility toward gay life. This can be observed through the much beloved Waylon Smithers. His continual progress as a gay man is evident through episodes such as “Secrets of a Successful Marriage,” in where Smithers is notably closeted, to the more recent “The Burns Cage,” his final coming out segment. Thus, the success of Obergefell v. Hodges can also be attributed to contemporary televisions queer sensibility. However, this also extends into the ongoing immigration debate. The episode “Much Apu About Nothing,” deals with the issues surrounding nativism and anti-immigration activism. It aired as a clever response to California’s Proposition 187 (1994), a bill that proposed denying state-funded services and taxed-funded educational institutions to all illegal immigrants. Through the exploration of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon’s character—Kwik-E-Marts proprietor and resident illegal immigrant—the complexities of race, ethnicity, and

Related Documents

  • Improved Essays

    Humor detracts from the existential dread of any suggestion, though it must be pulled off without a hitch or awkward pause. Misfired humor is the fodder of racist propaganda and horror stories. Needing to explain how jokes work marks one not just incompetent at humor, but also useless to society. To work, comedy may be subtly emphasized, must have multiple possible meanings, might teeter near the boundary to the unforgivable, and should balance the identity of the audience & butt of the joke with…

    • 1267 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    If you have ever caught an episode of the TV show South Park, you undoubtedly thought it was a senseless animated show filled with ill humor and offensive jokes. And most don’t blame you. Yet, South Park is more than just pessimistic humor. What some individuals fail to comprehend is the show is actually a satire, meaning they ingeniously poke fun at a wide-spread array of subjects. Conversely, because of this, South Park has been a theme of disagreements as well.…

    • 1072 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Superior Essays

    But it wasn’t until joining the campaign of Barry Goldwater that he realized his closeted outlook on things needed to change. A lover of Harvey’s, likewise to himself, loved theatre, and introduced Harvey to the cast and director of the show “Hair” in San Francisco. Upon meeting like minded people, Harvey decided to move to the Bay area himself. Living a double life, Harvey was a financial analyst by day, and a progressive avant garde beatnick by night. Taking the world progressively by storm, the gay rights movement caused many to get arrested, one being Harvey.…

    • 1581 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Great Essays

    His presence at City Hall forced residents of San Francisco to acknowledge the role gay men and lesbians played in the life of the city.” Milk had made leaps and bounds in the gay and political communities. This was unseen before and led to him becoming a major political figure that was constantly in the spotlight and criticized for his actions. To ensure equality Milk pushed for the guarantee of rights for people that in his opinion justly deserved…

    • 1789 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Great Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Although the two shows portray a dysfunctional American family and have a similar way of delivering humor, they both contrast in their targeted audience and characters. The first and most noticeable resemblance is that The Simpsons and Family Guy’s humor can…

    • 855 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Decent Essays

    After conversing with an openly gay married couple , I have learned a lot about marriage equality. Speaking with Terry briefly about proposition 8 , he stated “ It was about damn time people opened there eyes and realized that we are not going anywhere. It’s going to take more then just bias people to shut us down, we may not have the number be we do have the supporters.” Terry also believes, that this will be the start of new beginnings with the american society. Gay men and women have been around for decades whether they are closeted or openly gay, and it will continue to grow, because the LGBT community is an openly accepting community. Providing opportunities, for the youth and adults to be in a safe environment for them to mentor and be mentored by others.…

    • 1083 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Essay On Racial Diversity

    • 768 Words
    • 4 Pages

    Racial Diversity in Television The lack of diversity in modern day television is almost criminal. With television stations pretending to have racial diversity they run into the wall of using racial stereotypes for comedy to entertain the masses. The lack thereof racial diversity in modern television has led to many awful things such as; stations claiming to be racially diverse but just end up making fun of cultures with outdated stereotypes, also many holly wood block busters have little to none of the leads cast as anyone other than white male and female leads, I am also saddened to include award shows to the list of things contributing to the horrendous separation of whites and blacks in movies and television. So due to the facts about modern day media that we consume on a daily basis we are supporting the lack of racial diversity of today. Highly rated shows such as “Blackish” and “Fresh of the Boat” are the things I’m am speaking of.…

    • 768 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Huck Finn is a lame excuse to discuss slavery, it does not consider the importance of the journey nor does it convey the right message. One specific critic had a strong viewpoint of how Twain unsuccessfully wrote the novel. “The Villain here is Mark Twain, who knew how to give Huck a voice but didn’t know how to give him a novel” (Smiley). Smiley is right to judge Twain’s work. The Advantages of Huckleberry Finn is a terrible book, due to the fact that it introduces characters that only cause a distraction to the actual goal, his avoidance of seriously taking Jim’s desire into account, and Twain…

    • 988 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    In this movie, the language of the events and trial of future law firm partner, Andrew Beckett, channeled by the Academy Award winning performance of Tom Hanks, is replete with the overarching dialogue of non-verbal communication. Hence, this essay will address some of the non-verbal exchanges portrayed and the efficacy of their deliverance as they are balance with and in contrast to the spoken purposes shown in this film “This Case is Not Just About AIDS, It’s the Fear of Homosexuals” (Demme & Nyswanger, 1993) Attorney Joe Miller declares, in his defense of Andrew Beckett, his client’s…

    • 729 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Like shows that have come before it, Glee has set a precedent as a new type of ‘Gay TV,’ one that foresees an evolution to an even larger scale acceptance of homosexuality. Although it maintains some of the stereotypes of gay men, such as musicality and style choice, it breaks down many of the negative connotations and even relates some of them to the struggles of straight people. Specifically, the relationship between Kurt and Finn is a bond that introduced a new dynamic for gay and straight friends on television. When all of these aspects are brought together, a show is able to redefine what it is like to be gay on TV. The binary is shifting, and it is now accepted to be somewhere in the middle; somewhere between masculine and feminine, between gay and straight.…

    • 784 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays