Simpsons, Bart Simpson



Nothing lasts forever. And maybe nothing, not even Bart Simpson's Bart Simpson-ness, should.

As the showdown between Fox and The Simpsons' voice actors reaches its reputed drop-dead date, and threatens the future of the animation classic, the devil's-advocate question begs: 

Is it time for the longest-running prime-time comedy series in TV history to go?

Understood: A show is not just a show. It's also a workplace. If the show goes, after this season (or maybe next, per the Wrap), people will lose jobs. In a good economy, that's bad; in a terrible economy, that's worse. 

But looking at the show strictly as a show, as a thing of entertainment that's been magically beamed to TV sets for the past 21 years, is it time? Can a series that's older than your average college sophomore, that predates the modern Internet and a million-billion other things, still be relevant?

Steven Keslowitz thinks it can, and he's thought a lot about The Simpsons, having authored the book, The World According to The Simpsons: What Our Favorite TV Family Says About Life, Love and the Pursuit of the Perfect Donut.

"As long as there are issues to tackle in the world, The Simpsons is invariably ready for comment," Keslowitz said via email. "The show remains relevant as a starting point for learning and thinking about serious issues."

Deborah Foote has thought a lot about The Simpsons, too. She teaches the course, "The Simpsons as Satirical Authors," at Columbia College Chicago. She not only can see the devil's-advocate position, she can argue it.  

"The show has been declining for the last 10 years," Foote says. "They're not engaging as they once were."

Indeed, Foote's curriculum is devoted to episodes originally aired during the height of the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal and before. In other words, nothing after the 10th season.

If The Simpons were ended today, Foote wouldn't regard the news as good or bad. 

"As a viewer, I guess it's inconsequential," she says. (As an academic, she's got a backup plan/game plan of sorts: South Park.)

Steve Jobs wasn't talking about The Simpsons in his 2005 commencement address at Stanford University, but he was talking about the importance of change—and of death. 

"It clears out the old to make way for the new," Jobs told the graduates. "Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away."

Jobs passed away Wednesday. As he'd said, no one escapes death, "and that is as it should be."

Bart Simpson will be excused for not listening to the late Apple visionary or anyone else, for that matter. He is still just a kid.

For however many more seasons (and commercials and specials and movies and…) that lasts. 

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