‘The Simpsons’ at long last is finally dead
The meming of life: Poking the show with a stick in search of answers is now officially fruitless
Homer sends Lisa a gif of himself retreating backwards into a hedge – does this mean Homer watches The Simpsons?
Few cultural products have as much longevity as The Simpsons – including, unfortunately, The Simpsons itself. As anyone with a TV and a pulse is aware, The Simpsons is still, technically, alive, though to say that it’s now many years past its prime would be a grisly understatement. It’s long been a fascination of the internet commentariat that it continues to be broadcast, even though it now boasts the laugh-rate of a robust dental surgery, and has done so for the last two decades.
The morbid, living death the show now inhabits even has a name, Zombie Simpsons, reflecting the inscrutable fact it is still limping through its loveless trudge of leaden celebrity cameos and randomised foreign adventures.
The show’s fall has been documented many times, but never better than in Irish YouTuber Super Eyepatch Wolf’s superb video essay The Fall of The Simpsons: How It Happened. In that video, which has racked up more than four million views, Super Eyepatch Wolf – John Walsh to his local parish – charts the show’s dizzying rise in the 1990s to its peak between seasons three and nine, and its terminal slump thereafter.
Thoroughly argued and wittily helmed, the video is YouTube at its probing best, painting a depressing portrait of a series that has long since lost its way, and its soul. This coming a full year before the show sullied its name further with its tactless and petulant response to the furore over its South Asian character Apu.
Despite all this, the show has also been mined as an endlessly fertile source of memes, though near-exclusively drawn from those first nine halcyon seasons. An entire quite large corner of the internet, Simpsons Shitposting, is dedicated to increasingly obscure and abstract appropriations of said memes. Some of their core components, such as Old Man Yells at Cloud, Steamed Hams or Guy Incognito, have been recontextualised so many times, they’re now being remixed by people born whole decades after the referenced episode was first shown. For all its failings, The Simpsons’ reputation was being held aloft by the global market in its unimpeachable memeworthiness.
That was until this week, when The Simpsons kicked off its – brisk intake of breath – 30th season by showing Homer sending Lisa a gif of himself retreating backwards into a hedge, among the most famous Simpson memes on Earth.
While obviously artless, boring and depressing on its face, it also raises all sorts of philosophical questions: how does Homer have a gif of himself in his phone? Was someone filming him in that moment in his reality? Does he watch The Simpsons?
Whatever the case, we may have finally reached the point whereby poking the show with a stick in search of answers is officially fruitless. At long last, we must stop. It is already dead.