How to Read… ‘The Simpsons’

The Peabody and Emmy award winning show has long been lauded for its successful lampooning of contemporary American culture. It is quite possible that no show has ever done it better... but if you think you’ve peeled back all the layers, there are a few authors who might have you beat.

Anyone who has watched TV for more than five minutes in the last couple of decades has seen The Simpsons, mainly because they’re on TV almost perpetually. The longest running American sitcom and animated series of all time, The Simpsons have been syndicated around the world and translated into a multitude of languages. The start of this season marked the start of their historic 20th season.

The Peabody and Emmy award winning show has long been lauded for its successful lampooning of contemporary American culture. It is quite possible that no show has ever done it better, though their quality has been greatly questioned in recent seasons by many fans. Canadian author and culturist Douglas Coupland described such criticisms accurately as “hogwash” as the depth of The Simpsons has been maintained, albeit in an evolving fashion. But if you think you’ve peeled back all the layers, there are a few authors who might have you beat.

Chris Turner, Planet Simpson
3.5 Stars out of 5

While some readers might describe Turner’s style somewhat accurately as “rambling” or “schizophrenic” the reality is that the style is representative of the show itself. Turner does a fantastic job of tying the diverse themes and topics covered together. The title, Planet Simpson, is indicative of the breadth of the book and the depth of the show.

Mark I. Pinsky, The Gospel According to The Simpsons
3 Stars out of 5

The Simpsons has always brought in serious religious overtones despite the fact that it was originally derided by Christians across the USA due to Bart’s antics. Sometimes subtly, sometimes overtly, almost every world religion has played a role at some point. Pinsky manages to bring those overtones into the light, showing us how religion has changed The Simpsons & how The Simpsons has changed the way we view religion.

Paul Halpern, What's Science Ever Done For Us
3 Stars out of 5

Halpern’s easygoing style lets the reader get a look at how science has been a big part of The Simpsons. Both fun and edumacational, What's Science Ever Done For Us: What the Simpsons Can Teach Us About Physics, Robots, Life, and the Universe discusses weighty scientific theory & fact in a down-to-Earth fashion that engages without isolating the reader.

William Irwin ed, The Simpson and Philosophy: The D’oh of Homer
3 Stars out of 5

While it is not surprising to read an essay discussing Homer & Aristotle, it is surprising when the Homer being referenced has the last name “Simpson” and once almost drank a beaker of acid. The D’oh of Homer collects 18 essays from a variety of contemporary minds in the field of philosophy, discussing the philosophical relevance and ramifications of America’s first family. Bart is Nietzschean? Not a shocker but still interesting.

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