The Fall of The Simpsons: How it Happened

2017, Media  -   9 Comments
7.74
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Ratings: 7.74/10 from 34 users.

As the longest-running prime-time narrative series on American television, The Simpsons continues to draw a loyal and rabid following. But over the years, some disgruntled viewers have noticed a major shift in the show's levels of daring originality and comic vibrancy. One of those fans has even made a documentary on the subject - titled The Fall of the Simpsons: How It Happened - where he attempts to reconstruct the moment in the show's history when everything went wrong.

First premiering in 1989, The Simpsons introduced the world to a deliciously malfunctioning family, including father Homer, mother Marge and children Bart, Lisa and Maggie. Each member of the Simpsons clan would soon become an enduring player in pop culture iconography. The show quickly exploded from cult status to international acclaim. In the process, it successfully transformed the tone of the family-based sitcom, and redefined the barometer of success for prime-time animated series in the modern age.

In order to dissect where the show might have lost its edge, a critic must know where it once excelled. The film displays great insight as it outlines the qualities that made The Simpsons such a phenomenon from the beginning, including the outside-the-box perspectives of the show's creators, the complexity of its comic constructions, and its sharply observed counter-cultural leanings.

The filmmaker is equally precise when criticizing the flaws of its latter seasons. Specifically, he cites the show's barrage of increasingly cheap gags and pointless routines, sloppy attention to character, lack of commitment to its savage satirical roots, and a continually revolving door of quality writers. His arguments are accentuated by a superbly editing array of illustrative show clips, and further supported by the dwindling fan enthusiasm found online among over 300,000 user reviews.

The Fall of the Simpsons: How It Happened is not some catty and shallow exercise in amateur criticism. Instead, it is an immaculately informed and solidly articulated plea from a devotee who understands the strengths and weaknesses of this once-vital show inside and out. It is clearly a passion project, and not professionally or glossily produced. But it is entirely authoritative and persuasive.

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9 Comments / User Reviews

  1. dave

    One important point you missed and as a younger person you would not understand is the people who loved this show when it came out grew up and grew tired of it. The reasons were many not limited to Phil Hartman who was a majority of the voices at that time and when he died so did the simpsons.

    Also TV grew up and there were many more stations to choose from in the mid 90s...you simply do not have must see tv these days or in the late 90s since you could just record all your shows and didnt need to wait for the show to air.

    its a nice documentary but largely inaccurate as you focused on the writers a tad too much since all shows lose their edge no matter the circumstance and shows that stay on longer than 10 years always go down this pass..again nice try but you didnt grow up in that generation

  2. Madam Justice

    That was incredibly beautiful and lyrically delivered, I enjoyed chop-watching this like a new-school Simpsons viewer... the rebellion is (still) in the persistence. The narrative is true, I love the Simpsons for reminding me that I really do love my neighbors. They've been in the hood around the corner minding their world matters since I been alive and I'm so proud to be a Sober Barney, Sociable Moe, Glamorous Lisa and Random-Spectacular season character when Mr. O'Brian comes back as one long Monorail final extravaganza Halloween Christmasode. It can always be epic again... Maggie hasn't unpacified the manifesto... juSt saying. 7 is harsh, my Fan heart is melting; respect. Peace, Donuts, and Lemontrees.

  3. Peter

    Is it intentional or coincidence that the narrator sounds a little like Comic Book Guy!?

  4. Mark

    Kind of a time-waster, but interesting.

  5. Roger Andout

    A wee bit over-long but it sure taught me how to "read" jokes in layers. Ultimately it proves the gambling adage, "quit when you're ahead", and there are enough matrices in H/wood to tell you when. And last ultimate, you said it, "every dog has it's day". 8/10

  6. User 1

    Damn it! I thought I'd find out how they managed to not age all these years!

  7. GunnarInLA

    ...ok...I thought the show was more or less unbearable from the get-go, but...I could watch an occasional episode now and then...but haven't for years...

  8. Howard

    This was well worth watching. The "Fall" of the Simpsons parallels the shift in our culture, vis-a-vis the focus on norms and celebrities, from looking at these facets straight on, so as to see them as they are, to looking at them through 3D glasses, to see them as so much more than they are. Our vision is skewed to where we now actually think some things really are "larger than life" when everything that's happened ought to have diminished these things. We're overreaching, which is never a good sign.

    1. Madam Justice

      Absolutely, but the discussion is (and with netizenship) and will be more important than current viewership. Zombie Simpsons could be their "Senior Years" this is not a normal "sitcom" even if it's a guest write in The message from the "Aging Simpons Episodes" may be that anti-culture of yesterday is today's conformity. Trend setting is subtle... I forgive me for the length, but "overreaching" is definitely a sign of already-running-from-Danger. [Exitude, Sax-Cryin' Lisa ^-^.]