I bet you just read that in Homer Simpson’s voice, didn’t you?
The show revolving around the lovable, donut-loving simpleton and his family has been on air for nearly three decades now, quite a mean feat for any sitcom, let alone an animated one. Heck, I bet loads of us here grew up watching it and some of us probably have kids of our own doing the same now.
Last April, “The Simpsons” surpassed “Gunsmoke” for the highest number of scripted episodes aired on prime time American TV. (For reference, the Western drama series had twenty seasons during its two-decade run. “The Simpsons,” meanwhile, was renewed for a 30th season this year. Welp.)
So, it’s high time for a comprehensive book on the beloved series and Mike Reiss, a writer who has worked on the show since its launch in 1989, has apparently just published one. Save for a recounting of the feud between The Simpsons creator Matt Groening and early showrunner Sam Simon during the series’ heyday and a brief, somewhat haphazard response to the Apu controversy, it’s not really a dramatic, behind-the-scenes tell-all that one might expect.
But then again, we’re talking about one of the greatest influences on modern comedy here, so perhaps it’s only right that the book focuses more on the making of such, and in the process, it provides quite a handful of fun facts to delight even the most casual Simpson’s fan:
1. The iconic yellow skin was the result of an accident.
The character designs for Bart, Lisa, and Maggie Simpson all lack lines separating their skin from their hair points. The early animators opted for yellow since it could be rendered as both skin and hair color.
2. While plenty of famous people have appeared on the show as guests, more than a few celebrities have declined to do the same.
Meryl Streep, NSYNC, and even the late Stephen Hawking all lent their voices to the show, but Tom Cruise and the Hemsworth brothers all passed on the opportunity to guest-star.
Reiss also revealed that show producers have been trying and failing to get Bruce Springsteen on the show for years, and that no American president has done the show while in office.
3. Each episode is designed to run for 20 minutes and 20 seconds on the dot.
Apparently, it takes a lot of artful padding to accomplish that consistently, especially given the show’s 30-year run.
4. Matt Groening used his own family as the basis for the Simpsons.
True to form, Homer and Marge Simpson were inspired by Groening’s own parents, as with Lisa and Maggie, who were both named after his sisters.
Bart’s character, mercifully, was a complete fabrication.
5. The town’s name was borrowed from a 1950’s sitcom called “Father Knows Best.”
“Springfield” was specifically chosen for its “generic blandness.”
6. President Trump was once nothing more than an absurd punchline on the show.
The character appeared in a 2000 episode where Lisa Simpson became the first female president of the United States. How’s that for irony?
7. There’s a reason why the clouds cover part of the title in the opening sequence.
If you’ll recall, “The Simps” is the first word you see coming out of the clouds whenever the show begins. Reiss claimed that this was deliberate.
“‘Simps’ is short for simpletons, or rather, stupid people, such as the ones you’re about to see on the show,” he wrote.
“Springfield Confidential: Jokes, Secrets, and Outright Lies” was written by Mike Reiss with Matthew Klickstein, and is currently available in bookstores the world over.