It’s so crazy to look back on early episodes of The Simpsons and see how strong those first eight years were compared to the most recent 21 years of drudgery we’ve become accustomed to. It’s even crazier when you realise that timeline coincides exactly with the slow death of my parents’ marriage. I say death, but that suggests some sort of ending—which it seems neither The Simpsons nor my parents’ marriage is destined to enjoy.
Just like how The Simpsons is constantly renewed despite dwindling viewership and calls for its cancellation from long-time fans, my parents continue to stay together despite every indication that they should have divorced many years ago. I’d go so far as to say they should have ended their relationship on 22 November, 1998. Not only was that the day that ‘Lisa Gets an A’ aired (a season ten episode which many believe is the last great entry into The Simpsons canon) but it was also the day Dad crashed the Tarago into the school gate when he arrived drunk for my sister’s dance recital.
It isn’t easy keeping a show fresh and interesting after 29 years, nor is it easy to maintain a marriage for that long. It might be unsettling to see what both have become, but that doesn’t diminish my early memories of either of them. The season four episode ‘Last Exit to Springfield’ will always be groundbreaking comedy and cannot be sullied in my mind, no matter how many times you make me watch season 23’s ‘The Food Wife’ where Homer Simpson attempts to smoke crystal meth.
Similarly, my childhood memories of interstate road trips and Christmas mornings will always bring me joy, no matter how many times I see my parents exit from different bedrooms in the morning when I come home for a visit. Ultimately, The Simpsons and my parents’ marriage once brought a lot of love and laughter to my life—but it’s time for both to end. I guess the difference is Dan Castellaneta and Julie Kavner get paid $400,000 to pretend Homer and Marge are happy. Mum, Dad, how much are you getting paid?