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The Simpsons Television Show As A Pop Culture Icon

2495 words - 10 pages

The definition of the "typical" American family has changed considerably over time. Ever since the age of television dawned on American culture, situation comedies have tried to portray the typical American family in an attempt to reach as many viewers as possible. In the 1950's, there was "Leave It to Beaver" which represented a generic view of the American family during its time. There was a father whose responsibility was to financially support the family and be a role model for his children. There was a mother whose job was that of a typical housewife, taking care of the home and caring for the children. And there were the children who had no responsibilities, except to respect their parents and listen to their advice when anything went wrong. Most early sitcoms centered on this generally accepted idea of the typical family.

Things changed as America became more liberal, and in the 1970's, "All in the Family," which lacked a typical white collar father and focused on the internal spats of the what would today be called a dysfunctional family, was revered by many and hated by others. "All in the Family" made a dent in the American view of the typical family, but many were still reluctant to acknowledge the notion that not all households were as happy as that of "The Brady Bunch". In the 1980's "typical family" television programming continued to dominate. Sitcoms such as "Family Ties" and "The Cosby Show" are still considered American classics, but the dysfunctional trend returned in the late 1980's with the popularity of the raucous "Married With Children." However, no non-traditional American family sitcom has been as well as received and critically acclaimed "The Simpsons", which began in the 1990's.

"The Simpsons" was not a hit from the start. It was criticized for its supposed negative influence on children, which may or may not have actually occurred, although its viewership in the beginning was, in fact, primarily under the age of 18. The show was all but ignored by the older viewing public, who discounted it as a trashy cartoon. The "consumption" (Delingpole) of the program and its messages by the American public when the show first aired regularly was drastically different than what it is now and what the writers of the show intended. On face value alone, "The Simpsons" is not much more than a cartoon about a middle-class family and their ridiculous escapades. But when examined more closely and with a more objective eye ? "consumed" as the show?s writers would intend ? one can see that "The Simpsons" is truly a comment on American society.

"The Simpsons" basis, a father, a mother, and three kids, is far from unusual. The "typical" American is a blue-collar worker not unlike the father, Homer, who works a mindless job at the local nuclear power plant in the Simpsons' hometown of Springfield which is basically Anytown, USA. Marge, the mother, is a fairly typical housewife besides her large blue beehive...

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