You are on page 1of 3

TV shows can be seen as postmodern if they contain aspects of postmodernity such as

intertextuality, hyperreality, pastiche, parody etc. As tv shows can span over episodes and
seasons, its easier for them to include elements of postmodernity, as they could even focus each
episode on a different aspect of it or address a topical issue in a postmodern way. As
postmodernity has no set definition and is merely an idea/social construct it gives scope for many
different shows to come under the postmodern umbrella, they can reference theorists such as
Baudrillard and Jameson with ideas of hyperreality and consumerism, or include intertextual
references to other shows, films or big ideas. For this reason, I picked The Simpsons as my
postmodern TV case study as it is renowned for its intertextual references, pastiche nature and
seasonal specials referring to popular culture.
The Simpsons comes under the genre of animated sitcom and was created in 1989 by Matt
Groening for the Fox Broadcasting Company. With 27 seasons, 583 episodes and its own movie it
is a very popular sitcom amongst a varied demographic. It even has critical acclaim with critics
praising the shows sassy humour, wit, realism and intelligence in its earlier episodes as well a
score of 8.1/10 on IMDB and 9.1/10 from Not only is it a tv series, The Simpson is a
franchise with its own ride at Universal Studios Orlando and Hollywood, its own music, comic
series, video game, star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame, and merchandise in many well known
toy retailers such as Toys R Us, Argos and The Entertainer.
The Simpsons was shown on Channel 4. The channel's target audience includes those in the 1634 year old age group, and has the purpose of providing informative and creative content to
younger audiences, varying from documentaries to sitcoms to reality tv. The demographic would
most likely be a 8-35 year old, 60/40, male to female split as the boy demographic would prefer the
main characters Homer and Bart, however it appeals to an array of people, young and old due to
the variety of characters and themes.
From the looks of the reviews and the shows continued success, many people who watch
postmodern shows such as The Simpsons like them as they are very innovative and creative.
Shows like this are liked as they encourage creative minds to engage in it by laughing at it and
understanding the themes of the show, which can be a very interesting thing for the demographic.
Moreover, due to the shows comedic focus it gives another reason why the show is aimed such a
large demographic as its a very popular genre of tv/film that most people like to watch, specifically
for The Simpsons as it has quite witty, funny and immature themes that would appeal to the large
target demographic.
The series can be described as a satirical depiction of a middle class American lifestyle
epitomised by the Simpson family, which consists of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. The
show is set in the fictional town of Springfield and parodies American culture, society, television,
and many aspects of the human condition.
The Simpsons uses the standard setup of a situational comedy, or sitcom, as its premise. The
series centres on a family and their life in a typical American town, serving as a satirical parody of
a middle class American lifestyle. However, because of its animated nature, The Simpsons' scope

is larger than that of a regular sitcom. The town of Springfield acts as a complete universe in which
characters can explore the issues faced by modern society. By having Homer work in a nuclear
power plant, the show can comment on the state of the environment. Through Bart and Lisa's days
at Springfield Elementary School, the show's writers illustrate pressing or controversial issues in
the field of education. The town features a vast array of media channelsfrom kids' television
programming to local news, which enables the producers to make jokes about themselves and the
entertainment industry.
Some commentators say the show is political in nature and susceptible to a left-wing bias. Al Jean
admitted in an interview that "We [the show] are of liberal bent." The writers often evince an
appreciation for liberal ideals, but the show makes jokes across the political spectrum. The show
portrays government and large corporations as callous entities that take advantage of the common
worker. Thus, the writers often portray authority figures in an unflattering or negative light. In The
Simpsons, politicians are corrupt, ministers such as Reverend Lovejoy are indifferent to
churchgoers, and the local police force is incompetent. Religion also figures as a recurring theme.
In times of crisis, the family often turns to God, and the show has dealt with most of the major
Given that the show reflects and parodies a typical American family, it gives a lot of scope for
postmodernity in the show. Here are two famous parody episodes that are in the show:
Season 6, Episode 20
A 101 Dalmatians parody that manages to squeeze in references to everything from Spartacus to
Lady and the Tramp, Two Dozen and One Greyhounds sees Bart and Lisa attempt to rescue a litter
of stolen puppies from Mr Burns. Its most enjoyable sequence comes when Mr Burns reveals his
dastardly plan to skin the greyhounds and turn them into a fur coat via the brilliantly inventive ditty
See My Vest (sung to the tune of Be Our Guest). As Bart himself says: You gotta admit, it's
Best line: Mr Burns (singing): Like my loafers? Former gophers/It was that or skin my chauffeurs/
But a greyhound fur tuxedo/Would be best


Season 8, Episode 2
This brilliant extended Bond parody features one of the great minor characters in Simpsons history:
Hank Scorpio, the hip, touchy-feely owner of Globex Corporation who turns out to be a Blofeldesque super-villain.

Best line:
Marge: "Mr. Scorpio, this house is almost too good for us. I keep expecting to get the bum's rush."
Hank Scorpio: "We don't have bums in our town, Marge, and if we did they wouldn't rush, they'd be
allowed to go at their own pace."