Meet the Simpsons

Over time, the definition of what exactly "family" means has changed

with time. Usually, what constitutes making up a family is relative to a

specific culture, but as always, there are exceptions to the rule. Ever

since the golden age of television had sprung upon American culture,

television has tried to mimic the "ideal" American family through it's

programming. Even as early as the 1950's, television producers made

programming that would represent what exactly the ideal American family was.

Take for example the show "Leave It to Beaver". While I am not going to go

in detail about each character, I am going to summarize the family structure

and the role of the member. There was a father figure, his job, or

responsibility rather, was to financially support the family, while being an

exemplary father to his children. The mother on the other hand, was solely

responsible for being a typical housewife, while not neglecting the rearing

of her children. The children did not have any real responsibility, but they

respected their parents and attempted to stay out of trouble. Television

shows for the most part in this early era of programming followed among these


There has always been at least one show each decade that followed the

evolution of American life. In the 1960's, there was the "Andy Griffith

Show". In the 1970's, there was a different spin on family life with the

show "All in the Family", which did not have the typical white collar father,

and its emphasis was not on raising the children, rather it was after the

children had grown up. While in the 1980's there was a split in the

television programming representation of American families. There were still

shows that represented the "ideal" American family, such as "Different

Strokes" and "Family Ties" as well as "The Cosby Show", but there was also a

more realistic representation of American life in "Married With Children".

However, it is not in a drama that American family life is best represented

in the 1990's. Instead, it is in the animated series, "The Simpsons".

"The Simpsons" follows suit with the other dramas that reflected the decade

in which they aired. According to the U.S. consensus for March 1998, the

majority of households in America are married couples (U.S. Consensus pp. 1,

3,4,6). The Simpson's meet this. Also according to the consensus, the

average married couple has approximately 2.6 children per household (U.S.

Consensus, Household Characteristics p.1). Since there cannot be six-tenths

of a child, I will round up to three children, in which the Simpson family

has: Bart, Lisa and Maggie. Also, the average American is a blue-collar

worker. The father figure, Homer, meets this factor with his job at the

nuclear power plant within his hometown of Springfield. So according to the

statistics, the Simpson family could be considered an average American family.

In the next part of the essay, I will look at each individual character of

the Simpson family, and try to relate how that individual could be considered

a typical American. I attempt to avoid using stereotypes, but nothing is

full proof. I will look at some of the character's traits and try to relate

how that is a parody of an American.

First, I will begin with discussing the character of Homer Simpson. As you

might know, Homer is the father figure of the household, whose

responsibilities include financially supporting the household, since he is

the household's primary source of income. He has his flaws like any person

would, but somehow he and his family tend to work it out. Some of his

mishaps are very similar to those that most of us have had to face. For

example, he leaves the keys in his door to the house quite often (Hall, "The

Homer File" p. 2). Another example, would be the time when he attempted to

un-jam a toaster by shoving a knife in and out of it (Hall, "The Homer File"

p.2). Homer also expresses concerns over his obesity as well as being a bad

father (Hall, "The Homer File" p. 3). He also has a problem with his

cursing, as well as his consumption of alcohol (Hall, "The Homer File" p. 3).

Now, do any of these sound familiar to you?

Leaving keys in doors are a common thing for most Americans. Whether it is

going to or from