The Simpsons

Introduction

The Simpsons is an American animated sitcom created by Matt Groening for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series is a satirical depiction of American life, epitomized by the Simpson family, which consists of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie. The show is set in the fictional town of Springfield and parodies American culture and society, television, and the human condition.

The family was conceived by Groening shortly before a solicitation for a series of animated shorts with producer James L. Brooks. He created a dysfunctional family and named the characters after his own family members, substituting Bart for his own name; he thought Simpson was a funny name in that it sounded similar to "simpleton". The shorts became a part of The Tracey Ullman Show on April 19, 1987. After three seasons, the sketch was developed into a half-hour prime time show and became Fox's first series to land in the top 30 ratings in a season (1989-1990).

Characters

The Simpsons is known for its wide ensemble of main and supporting characters (ensemble cast).

The main characters are the Simpson family, who live in a fictional "Middle America" town of Springfield. Homer, the father, works as a safety inspector at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, a position at odds with his careless, buffoonish personality. He is married to Marge Bouvier, a stereotypical American housewife and mother. They have three children: Bart, a ten-year-old troublemaker and prankster; Lisa, a precocious eight-year-old activist; and Maggie, the baby of the family who rarely speaks, but communicates by sucking on a pacifier. Although the family is dysfunctional, many episodes examine their relationships and bonds with each other and they are often shown to care about one another. Homer's dad Grampa Simpson lives in the Springfield Retirement Home after Homer forced his dad to sell his house so that his family could buy theirs. Grampa Simpson has had starring roles in several episodes.

The family also owns a dog, Santa's Little Helper, and a cat, Snowball V. Both pets have had starring roles in several episodes.

Setting

The Simpsons takes place in the fictional American town of Springfield in an unknown and impossible-to-determine U.S. state. The show is intentionally evasive in regard to Springfield's location. Springfield's geography, and that of its surroundings, contains coastlines, deserts, vast farmland, tall mountains, or whatever the story or joke requires. Groening has said that Springfield has much in common with Portland, Oregon, the city where he grew up. The name "Springfield" is a common one in America and appears in at least 29 states. Groening has said that he named it after Springfield, Oregon, and the fictitious Springfield which was the setting of the series Father Knows Best. He "figured out that Springfield was one of the most common names for a city in the U.S. In anticipation of the success of the show, I thought, 'This will be cool; everyone will think it's their Springfield.' And they do."

Timeline

Despite the depiction of yearly milestones such as holidays or birthdays passing, the characters never age between episodes (either physically or in stated age), and generally appear just as they did when the series began. The series uses a floating timeline in which episodes generally take place in the year the episode is produced even though the characters do not age. Flashbacks and flashforwards do occasionally depict the characters at other points in their lives, with the timeline of these depictions also generally floating relative to the year the episode is produced. For example, in the 1991 episode "I Married Marge", Bart (who is always 10 years old) appears to be born in 1980 or 1981. But in the 1995 episode "And Maggie Makes Three", Maggie (who always appears to be around 1 year old) appears to be born in 1993 or 1994. In the 1992 episode "Lisa's First Word", Lisa (who is always 8) is shown to have been born in 1984.