The Simpsons at 30

Fans and academics alike will enjoy these in-depth looks at Springfield's favorite family.

Fink, Moritz. The Simpsons: A Cultural History. Rowman & Littlefield. Jun. 2019. 256p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781538116166. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781538116173. TV
While today The Simpsons is noteworthy for its longevity, librarian and scholar Fink (coeditor, Culture Jamming) goes back to the beginning, illustrating why the animated show was revolutionary when it premiered in 1989. Created by underground cartoonist Matt Groening, the series offered a subversive take on the sitcom, featuring a dysfunctional family who satirized contemporary culture, including viewers’ own habits. The Simpsons may have been flawed, but they were lovable, and the expanded cast grew to encompass many fan favorites. There were also enough pop culture references and background details to keep audiences engaged online between episodes, resulting in a massive early Internet community. In this affectionate look back, Fink evaluates the lasting influence of the show, crediting it with legitimizing animated sitcoms. He skillfully guides readers through 30 culturally relevant episodes, demonstrating that The Simpsons was groundbreaking, quality programming.
 VERDICT Fans of the show will enjoy revisiting classic episodes, and media scholars will find this a useful survey of television’s changing landscape.—Terry Bosky, Madison, WI

The Simpsons ’ Beloved Springfield: Essays on the TV Series and Town That Are Part of Us All. McFarland. Jun. 2019. 235p. ed. by Karma Waltonen & Denise Du Vernay. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781476674551. pap. $39.95. TV
Waltonen (writing, Univ. of California, Davis) and Du Vernay (Loyola Univ. Chicago), coauthors of The Simpsons in the Classroom, revisit the longest-running series in this collection of 19 academic essays by contributors from a variety of fields. With its weekly high jinks and ambiguous location, Springfield, The Simpsons’ setting, is an Anytown whose residents (and their animated antics) explore the contemporary American experience. The book provides a deeper reading of the show, discussing its music and film allusions and how it examines themes such as nationalism (the Simpsons are world travelers), gender roles, and environmentalism. The authors’ credentials are presented, and every essay is well cited. With recent attention to the depiction of Indian immigrant Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, a 20th piece focusing on race would have been warranted, but the volume does address The Simpsons’ use of stereotypes as satire.
VERDICT This is a perfectly cromulent resource and a fun read. Simpsons fans will appreciate academics geeking out, and scholars will benefit from this embiggening of Simpson-ology.—Terry Bosky, Madison, WI

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Heather Massa

Go out on a Tuesday? Who am I, Charlie Sheen? - Marge

Posted : Jun 13, 2019 08:33


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