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Charting The Tragic Downfall Of The Simpsons: Why The Show Will Never Be As Good As It Used To Be

Updated September 22, 2017 2.4k votes 322 voters 11.0k views15 items

List RulesVote up the reasons why The Simpsons has lost the magic.

When it premiered on FOX in 1989, The Simpsons was unlike any other TV show in history. But over the past few years, fans have been plagued wondering endlessly why The Simpsons isn't as good as it used to be. Is it just that the series has been on the air for so long, or is it because of a wrong direction the show took creatively somewhere along the way?

It's not unfair to wonder why or when did The Simpsons go downhill either, as the series was known for many years in the 1990s as being one of the best shows to ever grace the small screen. But despite making a name for itself for its biting satirical comedy, iconic characters, and brilliant comedic moments, the series has become - more or less - a shell of its former self.

It's time to investigate and truly delve deep into the reasons behind why The Simpsons has become such an ineffective TV comedy over the years. So here are our reasons for why The Simpsons isn't good anymore.

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  • 1

    Almost None Of The Original Staff Is Still Around

    Photo: FOX

    Building off of the last point, anyone who knows about the creative team behind The Simpsons in the late 1980s and 90s knows how integral that specific team was to shaping the vision of the show.

    As such there's an obvious correlation between the disintegration of that original team, and how different the tone and direction of The Simpsons is now compared to how it was in its original seasons. That goes father than just original creators/developers, James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, and Sam Simon no longer being involved in any real capacity too.

    In addition to those three men, The Simpsons had a stellar writer's team in its early seasons, which included the likes of Conan O'Brien, Greg Daniels, Bill Oakley, and more. Now, in the show's 28th season, only three of those original writers remain. This means that was once one of the most effective and collaborative writer teams in TV history, is now all but completely gone.

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  • 2

    The Jokes Aren't As Complex

    Photo: FOX

    In this excellent video essay by Super Eyepatch Wolf, he details how the comedy on The Simpsons has grown increasingly less complex or smart over the years. Not only does that mean a lot less beats in each of the show's many gags, but also in the removal of many of the jokes' brilliant layers.

    Nowadays, The Simpsons is starting to more and more resemble the typical TV comedy that it fought so hard not to be in its early seasons. That's resulted in the repeated use of jokes that often betray the motivations and personalities of the characters as well, and are as far removed from the intellectual nature of the show's original comedic style as possible. 

    Whether that means the hiring of a new crew of writers on the series or consulting more with the show's original team, it's clear that The Simpsons has, more or less, lost its comedic way.

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  • 3

    The Characters Have Lost Their Way

    Photo: FOX

    One of the biggest criticisms that The Simpsons has faced in recent years, is how simplified the characters in the series have become. After all, while Homer, Marge, Bart, Lucy, and Lisa were all based on archetypes that audiences were previously familiar with, The Simpsons managed to make them all memorable by taking the time to shade them in with more dimension than other shows or movies usually did.

    While Homer was a drunk, lazy, and often violently angry man, he also deeply loved his family and the town of Springfield, which made viewers grow attached to him. Similarly, Bart was an anarchic and rebellious teen who simultaneously caused trouble and suffered through deeply serious internal issues as well.

    Now, none of the decisions or jokes that characters make on the show feel in tune with those pre-established emotions and contradictions. Homer has devolved into being the dumb and mean father while Bart often causes trouble just for the sake of causing trouble, rather than the trouble he causes being the manifestation of his own inner conflicts.

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  • 4

    The Simpsons Is Now In Love With Pop Culture

    Photo: FOX

    It's hard to discuss The Simpsons nowadays without thinking of the many guest stars in the series. In particular, though, it's clear that by looking through the celebrity guest stars, that following its first eight seasons or so, the series began losing its bite when it came to tired pop culture cliches.

    That's not to say that celebrity guests weren't ever apart of The Simpsons prior to the series' creative downturn. Obviously, The Simpsons featured celebrity guest appearances from early on in its first season, but the tone of those appearances began to change drastically in the early 2000s.

    They stopped being fun Easter eggs for viewers to be surprised by, to being the sole selling points of episodes. And that change in attitude, perfectly reflects how The Simpsons began transforming from a show that satirized common pop culture trends to one that embraced and capitalized on them.

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