One of the wonderful things about working in the magazine business is that every now and then you work on a “long-lead” project; which is to say, something that you do well in advance, and then forget that you have ever written, until, as happened this morning, it gets published.
For a Time International package looking back at the year 1989, I wrote an essay on The Simpsons (which just squeaked in under that timeline with the airing of its Christmas special—if you don’t count its Tracey Ullman origins). And look! Here it is!
There are indie movies, indie music and indie publishers. But because of the way the television business worked — series produced for millions of dollars to reach millions of people — there was never much that you could call indie TV. Until The Simpsons.
I realize that is an absurd claim to make for one of the most popular television shows in history, produced by a mammoth multinational media company (Fox), which has generated billions of dollars in merchandising and licensing revenue. But before Springfield’s most famous yellow-skinned residents came to rival ubiquitous corporate mascots like Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny, the Simpsons were an outgrowth of that most indie of art forms, the alternative comic. …
A stretch? Maybe but roll with it. Anyway, read the rest if you are curious what I had to say—I can’t wait to find out myself!
Even I have to admit that I now catch new Simpsons only every now and then, but it still has a top spot in my personal cultural pantheon. How about yours?