Opinion: The point of it

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Wisdom can come from the strangest places. The same is said, too, of the lack thereof. Having been in the business of either being young, or being co-domiciled with the young, most Americans can say they’ve watched and episode or two of “The Simpsons.” Amongst its accolades, it is the longest-running sitcom, animated series and scripted prime-time series.  Sure, we are amused by the clever catch phrases, Marge’s piled-high blue hair and Homer’s hapless, yet boundless, commitment to “the boy, the girl, and the baby.” 

During its 28-year run, to date, we have come to know and care about the rag-tag cast of characters – their flaws, insight and machinations. Each plays a role as the relational drama, wrapped in more than a dollop of slapstick, unfolds neatly in under 22 minutes. The beloved, but often ignored, patriarch of the clan is Abraham Jedediah “Abe” Simpson II – mostly called Grandpa. Abe once remarked, “I used to be with it, but then they changed what it was.  Now, what I’m with isn’t it, and what’s it seems weird and scary to me. It’ll happen to you.”

Aside from getting a quick laugh and making a solid point, the old man has shared the secret of the longevity of the series (and perhaps of a happy life). It is ethereal. We cannot hope to contain it. We cannot expect to stand still and be on it. In fact, and by its very nature, it moves around. And, so what that it does? The elder Simpson, like the show itself, adapts as times change but doesn’t obsess over being too much it. The family is stable. The attire is identical. And the sofa, one of the longest running gags in television, is still pushed against the wall. Is it what it’s cracked up to be?


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