Who’s for the chop in The Simpsons?
By Patrick Kavanagh-Sproull.
I’m really sad to see that The Simpsons is declining. When I tuned into the latest series – season twenty-four – I noticed a change in quality. The Simpsons is, in essence, suffocating itself with parodies and guest stars. It is trying so desperately to get new audiences by drawing in popular celebrities – the likes of Justin Bieber, Steve Carell and Zooey Deschanel recently appeared in season twenty-four – to fill infelicitous roles. The storylines are all parodies of something (e.g. the season twenty-five premiere was entitled Homerland, a direct take on Homeland) and are thinly strung together. I still love The Simpsons but only for their past efforts, now it’s just verging on humdrum.
Now earlier this month executive producer Al Jean announced that one of Springfield’s iconic yellow residents would be killed off in a forthcoming storyline. I’m excited. Despite knowing that it’s an obvious ploy to garner ratings, I do like it when The Simpsons goes down this path. The last time it did so prominently was when Maude Flanders, the Simpsons’ maddening neighbour Ned’s wife, died in dramatic circumstance and before that was the amusing Who Shot Mr. Burns? storyline. This new killing will hopefully further the close characters around the cadaver just like how Ned was given serious development when Maude perished. But who, I ask, is for the guillotine?
Jean teased the identity of the soon-to-be-killed-off citizen by saying that the actor voicing them had won an Emmy for their performance. This is a surprising handful of stars ranging from Homer, Marge, Bart and Lisa to the more obscure: Rabbi Hyman Krustofski (Krusty the Clown’s father), Princess Penelope (the aforesaid clown’s former co-star) etc. I suspect it won’t be a member of the family themselves but somebody close to them. Selma or Patty Bouvier, Marge’s obnoxious sisters, are strong possibilities.
Al Jean said that the character’s departure will be “emotional” but the way they are killed will be “funny”. If Selma and Patty, or both, were to die then it would have serious repercussions for the Simpsons, most importantly Marge. Homer hates Patty and Selma so there could be some gags there whilst he simultaneously needs to comfort Marge who will be grieving. If say just one of the sisters dies then the other could join Marge in mourning. Another possibility is Marge’s mother for similar reasons and others like Mayor Quimby (a humorous assassination but with consequences for the town?) or Sideshow Bob (his final episode, perhaps?). I’m curious to find out who it is and how they’ll die but essentially the whole storyline is just to draw in a wider audience.
A murder plot is just what The Simpsons needs right now. Its popularity is decreasing and more viewers are tuning off. Partly because of weak storylines, partly because of the lack of originality and vim the show has. Killing someone off is a pretty undignified way to accumulate more viewers but it works. I’ll most definitely be tuning in.