How The Simpsons Affects Kids

The Simpsons is one of Americas most popular television shows.

It ranks as the number one television program for viewers under

eighteen years of age. However, the ideals that The Simpsons conveys

are not always wholesome, sometimes not even in good taste. It is

inevitable that The Simpsons is affecting children.

Matt Groening took up drawing to escape from his troubles in

1977. At the time, Groening was working for the L.A. Reader, a free

weekly newspaper. He began working on Life in Hell, a humorous comic

strip consisting of people with rabbit ears. The L.A. Reader picked up

a copy of his comic strip and liked what they saw. Life in Hell

gradually became a common comic strip in many free weeklies and

college newspapers across the country. It even developed a cult

status. (Varhola, 1)

Life in Hell drew the attention of James L. Brooks, producer

of works such as Taxi, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and Terms of

Endearment. Brooks originally wanted Groening to make an animated

pilot of Life in Hell. Groening chose not to do so in fear of loosing

royalties from papers that printed the strip. Groening presented

Brooks with an overweight, balding father, a mother with a blue

beehive hairdo, and three obnoxious spiky haired children. Groening

intended for them to represent the typical American family "who love

each other and drive each other crazy". Groening named the characters

after his own family. His parents were named Homer and Margaret and

he had two younger sisters named Lisa and Maggie. Bart was an anagram

for "brat". Groening chose the last name "Simpson" to sound like the

typical American family name. (Varhola, 2)

Brooks decided to put the 30 or 60 second animations on

between skits on The Tracy Ullman Show on the unsuccessful Fox

network. Cast members Dan Castellaneta and Julie Kavner did the

voices of Homer and Marge. Yeardley Smith (later to star in Herman's

Head) did the voice of Lisa. Nancy Cartwright did the voice of Bart.

Cartwright previously supplied the voices for many cartoons, including

Galaxy High, Fantastic Max, Richie Rich, Snorks, Pound Puppies, My

Little Pony, and Glo-Friends. Tracy Ullman later added Cartwright to

her cast. (Dale and Trich, 11)

Brooks, Groening, and Sam Simon, Tracy Ullman's producer,

wanted to turn the Simpson family into their own show. The Fox

network was looking for material to appeal to younger viewers. The

only show they had that drew a young audience was Married With

Children. To Fox's pleasure, The Simpsons saved the network from near

failure. (Varhola, 3)

On December 17, 1989, The Simpsons got their break. The

Christmas special, "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" aired. (Dale

and Trich, 19) In the episode, Bart got a tattoo, much to Marge's

dislike. She quickly spent all of the family's Christmas money to

remove Bart's tattoo with a laser. At the same time, Homer, still on

his morning coffee break at 4:00 in the afternoon, learns that he will

not receive a Christmas bonus. When he learns that Marge is relying

on the money for Christmas, he decides that he will do the Christmas

shopping for the year. He quickly buys Marge panty hose, Bart paper,

Lisa crayons, and Maggie a dog toy. When he realizes that he is not

doing very well, he gets a second job as a mall Santa for the extra

money. On the way home from work, he steals a Christmas tree. The

next day at the mall, Bart sits on his Dad's lap and pulls down his

beard. Homer responds by choking Bart and making him help make

Christmas better. On Christmas Eve, Homer receives his check, $13.70

for over 40 hours work. Homer takes Bart to the dog track as a final

chance for Christmas money. They discovered a gem in the third race,

Santa's Little Helper. How could this dog lose on Christmas Eve? The

odds were 99 to 1, they were going to be rich. Homer put all of his

money on Santa's Little Helper, and to his horror, he never even

finished. As Homer and Bart were scouring the parking lot for winning

tickets into the night, they saw the track manager throw out a dog.

It was not just any dog, it was Santa's Little Helper. When Bart and

Homer came home to their worried family, they had a good Christmas

after all. Now