Friday, March 21, 2008

Television: "The Simpsons" The First Ten Years

In the late Eighties, the evangelical ghetto was told to stay away from “The Simpsons.” Those who didn’t witnessed a more religious show than many that had aired up to that point. Note the term “religious,” not Christian or Evangelical.
As satire "The Simpsons" presents many issues that television normally won’t address. It is similar in a way to many fantasy and science fiction shows already described in the way it addresses controversial topics. It just does so in a direct manner. "The Simpsons" pokes fun at everything and offends a lot of society, but in doing so they generate a lot of thought and discussion.
Just a short list of early episodes that are great to stimulate thought on religion or morality is easy to come up with: There’s No Disgrace Like Home, The Tell-Tale Head, Bart Gets an F, Dead Putting Society, Homer vs. Lisa and the Eighth Commandment, When Flanders Failed, Like Father Like Clown, Homer The Heretic, When Homer Loved Flanders, Bart Sells His Soul, In Marge We Trust, Lisa the Skeptic, The Joy of Sect, etc.
God is real on the show and is the one character (or concept) not ridiculed. The same cannot be said for Religion. Reverend Lovejoy, the religious professional on the show, is a deeply flawed character. Ned Flanders, the other prominently Christian character, (most characters on the show claim to be Christian) is one of the most respectable and well rounded. Sure he is the brunt of a lot of Homer’s ridicule, but he is genuine and really a great neighbor and person.
As the show is a no-holds-barred satire there is something to upset everyone who watches this show, but give some of the episodes above a chance. You might even forget you are trying to appraise it and find yourself chuckling.

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