It seems like everything’s in a death spiral these days: linear television, Twitter, the internet in general, America. Oh, and a little show called The Simpsons.
Last Sunday’s episode, “Frinkenstein’s Monster,” suffered a huge drop in the ratings from the previous episode (which aired on Christmas Eve), netting only 0.72 million viewers, making it the least-watched episode of the series… so far. For comparison, the highest rated show in that timeslot was the season premiere of The Equalizer, with 6.32 million viewers. [TV Series Finale]
Conservative writer Nick Clairmont has watched every episode up to Season 35, but now he’s dropping the show due to a decline in quality, which is a very funny concept. After a couple years of “THE SIMPSONS IS GOOD AGAIN!!!” articles it feels refreshing to get a dissenting view, even if it’s mostly complaining about Wokeness. [The Critic Magazine]
There’s been a noticeable increase in spam bots on Twitter as of late, perfectly crystallized in this moment where a Simpsons meme referencing the phrase “░M░Y░P░ U░S░S░ Y░I░ N░B░I░O ░” used by spammers is replied to by another spammer with “the simpon:”
Here’s a nostalgic look at the official Simpsons website over the years. It used to be charming and chock full of information, and now I guess it… doesn’t even exist anymore? There’s a page for the show on FOX.com with some information on the cast, but otherwise it looks like it’s just social media for the franchise now. Grim. [Web Design Museum]
¡Ay, caramba! In a crushing blow to fans, it looks like The Simpsons is coming to an end… collector toy company Super7’s line of Simpsons figures, that is.
Last month, company founder Brian Flynn was interviewed for Robo Don’t Know, where he admitted that “Simpsons did not perform nearly as well as we had hoped” and their relationship with Disney is not moving forward. While figures that were previously announced will still be produced, the Simpsons line (which he says they had a lot of plans for) has been cancelled, along with other Disney properties. Flynn is hopeful that the two companies could work together in the future, but for now they don’t see eye to eye on what is “realistic.”
Super7’s Simpsons line focused more on niche-y, fan-favorite characters rather than, you know, the Simpson family. While that strategy worked on me – I bought the figures of McBain’s ill-fated partner Scoey and Troy McClure with Fuzzy Bunny – perhaps it limited the appeal to more casual fans. Regardless, Simpsons toys aren’t going to rake in Disney Princess money, if that’s what Disney was expecting. It seems to me like Disney doesn’t quite know how to handle The Simpsons; cigarettes were removed from a Krusty figure prior to production, presumably at their request, even though these toys aren’t made for children (beer’s fine, though).
While the loss of the Disney license is surely a blow, Super7 is still working with a number of other properties, running the gamut from Richard Scarry to American Psycho, that will hopefully help them weather industry headwinds.
The Simpsons TV show has been on for a very long time, and in that time there’s been a lot of betrayal. Characters have been betrayed by their lovers, friends, co-workers, and even their own children. Join us as we rank the top ten betrayals in Simpsons history.
The Simpsons has won an Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program, marking the first time the series has received the coveted award under a Democratic president since 2000.
The show had won in 2001, 2003, 2006, 2008, and 2019 during the George W. Bush and Trump administrations, but conspicuously had not won during the entirety of Obama’s eight-year presidency, no doubt the handiwork of the former Commander in Chief himself. After Diamond Joe Biden “won” the “election” in November 2020, IN THE NEWS speculated this Emmy drought could continue during his regime. Well, whatever control Obama held over the entertainment industry is apparently no more, as the show’s latest win has broken his curse forevermore.
As the Walt Disney Company continues to celebrate its 100th anniversary, let us consult the tea leaves and try to speculate just what the entertainment conglomerate wants to do with The Simpsons.
CEO Bob Iger recently spoke about the importance of quality over quantity. Sure, he was specifically talking about Marvel’s recent underperformance at the box office, but maybe, just maybe, he was secretly thinking about The Simpsons, which passed the 750 episode mark this year and is only getting more expensive to license.
There’s a rumor that 20th Century Studios recently greenlit James L. Brooks’s upcoming film Ella McKay in hopes of convincing him to do a sequel to 2007’s The Simpsons Movie. Maybe that’s true, but 20th and Brooks already have a longstanding relationship (his production company Gracie Films is located on the Fox studio lot) and frankly it doesn’t seem like Brooks would need much convincing (the Disney+ shorts were his idea). As I see it, the main obstacles are that everyone is 16 years older and the circumstances that made the first movie possible have changed.
Remember back in 2019 when Matt Groening announced a Disenchantment comic book series? Well, good news, it’s finally being released, four years later and after the show has ended. The podcast Talking Simpsons speculated the delay might’ve been due to behind-the-scenes squabbling between Groening and Disney over Simpsons publishing rights, complicating Groening’s plans for a comics app.
Disney Parks chairman Josh D’Amaro claims they have enough space in Anaheim “to build another Disneyland there if we choose to do that.” Might The Simpsons find a home there if the Universal contract is not renewed?
Howdy pard’ners, he’s some ace-high Simpsons news tidbits rounded up for your reading pleasure.
According to Simpsons Wiki, the last time Homer strangled Bart in normal continuity was in 2019’s “The Winter of Our Monetized Content,” so it would be accurate for Homer in 2023 to say he doesn’t do that anymore. There, I’ve done more research than 99% of the articles about Stranglegate. You know what other gags they haven’t done in a long time? Bart prank calling Moe. Bart saying “Cowabunga.” Troy McClure listing movies you might remember him from. Mr. Burns not remembering Homer’s name. Inappropriate songs playing when characters get put on hold. Marge reminding Homer of a previous lifelong dream. McBain’s crusade against Mendoza. Search for the Sun. Homer’s love of mambo. The family going out for frosty chocolate milkshakes. I guess my point is sometimes things get dropped.
I rarely buy Simpsons merchandise, but I was convinced to shell out some simoleons for Super7’s Scoey and Troy McClure with Fuzzy Bunny figures. Preternia has noted that something is going on with their Simpsons line, but it’s unclear what it is. Concerning.
Disney officially announced they’re buying Comcast’s remaining stake in Hulu, ending speculation that they might instead sell their stake as CEO Bob Iger had floated back in February. In related news, Disney+ will be adding some Hulu content next month for bundle subscribers, with an official rollout in March 2024. I’m curious if Hulu The Disney+ Brand Tile will include next-day episodes of The Simpsons, or if that will remain exclusive to Hulu The Standalone Service.
How do you spell the currency mentioned in “Bart vs. Australia” and an episode of Bluey, dollarydoos or dollar-adoos? Writer Josh Weinstein posted the script, revealing it’s actually dollaridoos. By the way, for just one dollaridoo you can get a Dollarita at your local Applebee’s [SPONSORED CONTENT].
Media mogul and two-time Simpsons voice actor Rupert Murdoch has stepped down as chairman of both Fox Corporation, which owns the Fox broadcast network, and News Corporation.
The 92-year old billionaire launched a media empire in Australia, which expanded to the UK and the US. His company, News Corporation, acquired 20th Century Fox in 1985, and launched the Fox network the following year. He played a small role in getting The Simpsons on the air, or at least that’s what he told Vanity Fair in 2007:
I was at a program meeting with [Fox CEO] Barry Diller and the people at Fox Network, and afterwards Barry said, “Come into my room, I want to show you something.” And he had a tape there, of about 20 minutes in length, of all the little 30-second bits that had been through The Tracey Ullman Show. And he played it, and I just thought it was hilarious. I said, “You’ve gotta buy this tonight.” He said, “No. It’s more complicated than that.” So we went forward from there.
Sidenote: Bob Iger, who was then the head of ABC, expressed interest in buying the show, which may have tipped the scales in convincing Diller to greenlight a 13-episode season for the Fox network. Iger would later become CEO of Disney and acquire Fox’s film and television studios, which included The Simpsons.
It was Murdoch’s idea to move The Simpsons from Sunday nights to Thursday for its second season, putting it up against ratings juggernaut The Cosby Show, which was a big deal at the time. Executive producers James L. Brooks and Sam Simon thought it was a stupid move that could potentially kill the show, but it held its own and managed to beat Cosby at Thanksgiving, proving the upstart Fox network could compete with the Big 3.
Murdoch and his properties were a frequent target on The Simpsons. One episode depicted him as a fellow prison inmate of Sideshow Bob, and he would later voice himself in the episodes “Sunday, Cruddy Sunday” (in which he refers to himself as a billionaire tyrant) and “Judge Me Tender.” He remained a fan of the show over the years (or at least claimed to be), even tweeting in 2014 to praise a YouTube short the show had put out. Sadly, I could only find one photo of him posing with the yellow family that made him millions.
The Simpsons is a television institution that has been on the air for a very long time. Specifically, since 1989. This December it will have been on for 34 years. Have you ever wondered how old The Simpsons would be if it started in 1923? Read on to find out.
Remember when you watched The Simpsons in syndication and you could just enjoy a random episode, without the burden of having to consciously pick one? What if instead of being limited to one episode per evening (or perhaps two or even three depending on your TV market), the show was constantly airing 24/7? Well, that could become a reality sooner rather than later if streaming analysts’ predictions hold true.
Now that the streaming business model has imploded, the studios have realized that the linear TV model it disrupted wasn’t so bad after all and are eager to recoup their lost revenue by getting into FAST (free, ad-supported television) channels, which are essentially fake TV channels with commercials you can stream, many of which are dedicated to one show. Some even have their own services featuring these channels: Paramount has Pluto TV and Paramount+, Fox Corporation has Tubi, NBC Universal has Peacock, and Amazon has Freevee. Warner Bros. Discovery is launching their own service later this year. Even Netflix has hinted at getting in the game.
Disney has had an ABC News Live channel for years, and in May they added a few FAST channels on the ABC app, but so far they haven’t made any major waves in that space. Streaming analysts have mused on the viability of Disney embracing the FAST market and posit that a Simpsons channel would be a no-brainer.
The real question around Disney’s decision to launch an ad-supported Disney Plus offering isn’t whether it’s a good move. Rather, it’s when are they going to take the next step and launch a free ad-supported streaming TV service (FAST) that can compete with Paramount’s Pluto TV, NBCU’s Peacock and Fox’s Tubi?
Of course, the other possibility here is that rather than go for a quick buck now and sell to outside ad-supported platforms, Disney could just launch its own FAST service, as Warner Bros. Discovery is exploring. I don’t think it would make much sense to put anything too obviously Disney on such a platform as it might cheapen the brand. But a service which leaned heavily on the 20th titles, as well as content from ABC (including ABC News), could be a winner.
The first 10 seasons are widely regarded to be the show’s best and would make perfect fodder for a dedicated single-series FAST channel. Disney+ could keep newer seasons behind a paywall, and still have plenty of content for such a channel.
What’s interesting about The Simpsons in particular is that they already were on FAST-like channels, as FX president John Landgraf mentioned in an interview:
When we bought The Simpsons, we built an app called Simpsons World that had every episode ever made in a perfectly searchable system. Then it had so-called channels, which were linear streams of Simpsons episodes. Eighty percent of the consumption was from the linear playlists, and 20 percent was on demand.
The Simpsons is already the most popular show on Disney+. Imagine what those viewership numbers would be if they added a channel that allowed you to drop in and just watch a random episode, freeing you from the tyranny of choice.
Fortnite recently announced a collaboration with Futurama: Fry, Leela, and Bender are purchasable characters, with other stuff inspired by the show also available in the game. However, there’s one thing missing: creator Matt Groening’s signature. It’s not present in Fortnite’s announcement post, the in-game item shop, or any of the advertising posted on social media. So what’s the deal?
The exact language is not publicly known, but it appears safe to say that Groening’s signature is contractually obligated to appear on merchandise and promotional art of the properties he created, which is why you see his name everywhere. This extends to the Simpsonsprofile pictures on Disney+, and even the NFT of Homer choking Bart.
However, in very, very rare circumstances, Groening will remove his signature or credit to implicitly indicate his disapproval. I know of only two instances: the 1995 Simpsons episode “A Star is Burns” because he was opposed to doing a crossover with The Critic, and the 2001 video game Simpsons Wrestling. It may seem a little silly considering the ubiquity of Simpsons merchandise, but Groening appears to take his endorsement seriously. Talking to a trading card magazine in 1994, Groening criticized the quality of the 1990 Topps set and lamented that “my name was on every one of those cards.”
I searched similar video game collaborations to see if perhaps this was a trend. The promo art for a 2015 Simpsons Minecraft skin pack does have Groening’s signature, as does this Animation Domination card game featuring Futurama characters (near Bender’s hand), which makes its exclusion from Fortnite odder.
Was it a mere oversight? Did Groening decline to approve the collaboration because of the writers’ strike? Obviously it exists to promote the Hulu revival, but I’m not sure if a signature necessarily constitutes crossing the picket line. Is it a weird technicality because Fortnite is using their in-game models instead of drawn promo art? Or did the peacenik-minded Groening object to his characters being used to propagate violence in a video game? If that’s the case, I think it’s a little misguided: my understanding of Fortnite lore is that characters don’t “die,” they are bloodlessly “eliminated” and are stuck in an endless loop where they regenerate. Even Batman uses guns in the game, come on. Also, the characters in question are canonically war veterans.
Perhaps we’ll never know the real reason. In the meantime, I shotgunned Goku while playing as Bender. This, to me, is the essence of gaming.