On April 19, 1987, a momentous event happened: America was introduced to one of its most enduring families, The Simpsons.
Bart, Homer, Marge and the rest of the family first appeared in 48 short filler segments on the sketch comedy program The Tracey Ullman Show, but those first characters were very different from the Simpsons of today.
When Matt Groening created The Simpsons, Furniss says, people were excited to see what the cartoonist would do within the field of animation. With the show, she says Groening set a new standard for animation on TV, especially when it came to shows that were more crass and humorous.
“When The Simpsons came out, people were so worried about the crude behavior,” Furniss says. “But they didn’t have any idea that South Park or Beavis and Butt-head were on the horizon and would be much more outrageous in a lot of ways.”
Since the days of the early filler segments and The Simpsons’ launch as its own show in December 1989, the town of Springfield and its yellow inhabitants have managed to become TV’s longest-running, prime-time scripted entertainment series.
With such a long history, it’s no surprise that there have been more than a few times when The Simpsons were the subject of a story here at NPR. Here you’ll find a sampling of this work, with an assurance that there’s always more to come — so long as Homer and Co. continue to let us into their world on Sunday nights.