December 17, 2019
In 30 years, it seems like the Simpson family has done everything.
- Saved a power plant from a nuclear meltdown.
- Predicted the election of Donald Trump.
The Simpsons, a sitcom featuring a quirky suburban family, debuted on Fox on December 17, 1989 as a spinoff from The Tracey Ullman Show.
"You wanted to get to five seasons," Yeardley Smith, the voice of the precocious Lisa Simpson, told Cheddar about the show’s early days when there were just four major TV networks and no sign of streaming services yet on the horizon. "Five seasons meant you had a hundred episodes. That meant you could go into syndication, and that meant, as an actor, you could get residuals."
But the cartoon residents of 724 Evergreen Terrace in Springfield, state unknown, would persist well beyond 100 episodes, and Smith recalled her surprise at 10 seasons, thinking there would be just a "couple more seasons." Then five more seasons passed by.
"Then we started to really pick off these milestones, like Gunsmoke had 20 seasons, Ozzie and Harriet didn't have as many seasons, but they had more episodes. Then we blew them out of the water," Smith said about the unprecedented success of the show, the longest-running scripted American primetime television show in history. "This very day, it marks the 30th anniversary of the very first half-hour episode to air of The Simpsons, which was Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire.
Despite enduring three decades as an iconic sitcom that skewered pop culture, current events, and American politics with satire, there are those who might argue that creator Matt Groening's brainchild is nearing the end of its run.
"At some point, it has to end," Jen Chaney, TV critic with Vulture told Cheddar. "It's hard to imagine because it's been around for most of our lives... and I don't know how it should end, but honestly I hope it does that in the next, say, five years, and just goes out strong because I don't think it can go on indefinitely."
Beyond The Simpsons, Smith, who also currently hosts a true-crime podcast called Small Town Dicks (old-timey slang for "detectives"), has a spin-off idea that could bring one character continued fame.
"You know who I think would do a great podcast? Sideshow Bob," Smith said, referring to the sinister character voiced by actor Kelsey Grammer. "I mean, he's been in prison. He's been out of prison. He's had a lot of really funny failed jobs. He'd be great."