Cluster analysis shows that the golden age of The Simpsons ended in Season 10

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On the other hand, internet ratings are not the be-all and end-all of America’s collective critical faculties, either.



But are internet ratings the be-all and end-all of America’s individual critical faculties?


Season 10’s definitely been my personal marker for the once in a while where I watch through “all” of the simpsons. I usually put a fork in it either at the end of season 10 or somewhere in it.


If you talk to younger people, you learn that the year the golden era ended in The Simpsons is the year the viewer went from adolescent to adult.


If you don’t believe, it, I’ve got the numbers right here, buddy.

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Came across this earlier today…

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Rather than quibbling over when the golden age officially ended, I’d be far, far more interested in the ratings of later episodes that are actually good so I don’t have to slog through all the garbage. [Related: why are none of season 1-10 episodes ever in the re-run broadcasts?]

Crowdsourcing the end seems valid, but the guy who hit upon The Principal and the Pauper as the end (an episode that I like, FWIW) has a really good reason: The core writing staff all left. You can analyze it from crowdsourcing or you can analyze the staff but the results overlap around the same general time.

When you get into the post Season 9 twilight of the show, not only are there only a few people left from the original staff, there are only a few people left from the original replacements. By Season 12, the only writers left from the Mirkin era were Scully and Mirkin themselves. Even the Oakley and Weinstein hires from Seasons 7 and 8 had only two writers remaining by Season 12, Ian Maxtone-Graham and Ron Hauge.
That the writing staff was able to be successfully restocked once was a small miracle; it simply couldn’t happen a second time. Those changes, combined with the general exhaustion of having told so many stories about the same characters already, was probably more than any show could have withstood. But the show’s fate was permanently sealed when it lost two vital staff members, Doris Grau and Phil Hartman.

we miss you, Mr. Hartman.


The Simpsons have been around long enough to have achieved ‘SNL’ status for Golden Age Assessment.

“That show hasn’t been the same since (I turned ~25). None of the current stuff is any good, none of the current jokes are any good. All the best stuff happened when (I smoked pot/was immature/watched it often enough to feel a connection with the characters/actors).”



My love for the Simpson’s had started to diminish already, but the Hartman tragedy solidified it. I needed a break.


People who think early Simpsons was brilliant comedy haven’t watched it since the 90s. It was certainly ground-breaking but it has aged poorly.

The real problem is that the show hasn’t really changed since the 90s. And since everyone and their grandma has been doing variations on their jokes for 30 years them telling those same jokes is going to make the show look lame.

If the Lady Gaga episode had aired in 1992 it’d be a fondly remembered “Hey! A celebrity!” episode like the X-files one.

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While its best years are past, there are still occasional brilliant episodes.

Some of the experimental ones are great. There was a recent D&D / fantasy hommage, and some good science fictional stories. They used to save these stories for the Halloween episodes, but not they just break continuity and run them through the year.

Some of the ordinary stories stand out. There was one involving Lisa and another offbeat girl creating a fantasy world called Equalia together. It ends with Lisa leaving things behind, realizing the real world needed her.


Yes, the old “The Golden Age of SF is 12” idea. But I was already an undergraduate when the show began and I certainly saw a decrease in quality around season 9 or 10 completely independent of any such nostalgia factor. I think I gave up on the show around season 12, but classic Simpsons remains one of my go-to pop culture references.


But what made the X-files episode so great was that it was more than just a single-note “Hey, let’s put Mulder and Scully in Springfield” laziness the way most later guest star appearances were. It also played with Nimoy’s regrettable “In Search of…” Newage (rhymes with sewage) show.

And it had the great line “The following tale of alien encounters is true. And by true, I mean false. It’s all lies. But they’re entertaining lies. And in the end, isn’t that the real truth? The answer is no.”


Sure it’s a funny episode but if they released it today people would point to it as another example of how the show is a zombie.

Again, it’s not that the show is doing worse, its that the show is doing exactly the same it always did in a TV landscape where everyone is doing some louder version of their jokes. They simply didn’t adapt. If 1994-style LoLs aren’t working for a person anymore then they’ll not find the show funny. Rick & Morty is a Simpsons pop-culture reference episode with an overlay of Sci-Fi nihilism. The only modern popular cartoon that I can think of that has departed from that formula is Adventure Time.

Mind you I don’t watch a lot of TV nowadays. I’ve heard good things about Bojack Horseman so maybe things are slowly starting to move away from the Simpson’s comedy shadow?

OK, so now do the same thing for Game Of Thrones. Oh, it’s not cool to say Game Of Thrones is a parody of itself? Well, when it becomes cool, I’m sure boing boing will be all aboard the train.

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More on this angle:

I’m always surprised to find that the Simpsons is still on.

I haven’t warched new episodes or reruns since the late 90s. And that is starting to feel like a long time ago.

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The Principal and the Pauper was a great episode.


Given that BH is set in modern-day Hollywood and revolves around a washed-up 90’s sitcom actor, pop-culture references are pretty inherent to it. It is a good show though, very funny and yet incredibly dark.