Created by Matt Groening, the side-splitting cartoon series The Simpsons has managed to be popular with all age groups, being an entertaining cartoon for the young as well as a satire for those who get the subtleties. It is based in the town of Springfield, USA, and the stories revolve around the Simpsons, a family one might consider average and representative for many: a bickering couple, three children and a dog, living in a suburbia-style house. The Simpsons are no longer simple cartoon characters; they have become a brand.
Homer Simpson, with a certain charm based on naivety, always relies on luck rather than brains or skills. Everything about him spells mediocrity, from his unawareness of the world surrounding him, to his incompetence and irresponsibility at work, in a nuclear plant. He has the common mentality that he deserves the best without having to work for it. But when overcome by enthusiasm and drive, he tries his hardest to be a better husband, father or citizen, and usually fails; he is also a dedicated beer drinker and spends many nights at Mo’s, the local tavern. He can probably be best described as a child in a man’s body. His wife Marge is the typical stay-at-home mum and dedicates her whole time and energy to her family, although sometimes she finds herself mixed up in all sorts of adventures. She has strong moral values and an endless patience towards her husband’s shenanigans, her usual sole reaction being a groan of discontent. Her two older sisters, Selma and Patty, who occasionally make an appearance, are both spinsters.
Their mischievous son Bart is an archetypal pre-teenage boy, always trying to cause trouble and blend in with the popular crowd, and seems to resemble his father in many ways. Daughter Lisa however is the intellectual, frequently an outcast in her community due to her refusal to conform to largely accepted views. She has a rational and scientific mind and is passionate about issues of global importance, such as the environment; she is also a musician, as she plays the saxophone. The youngest daughter, Maggie, is only a baby but often gets involved in situations no one finds out about.
Another pair of comical characters are Mr. Burns, the owner of the nuclear plant, and his loyal lackey, Smithers. Mr. Burns is an insensitive miser with dreams of grandeur and adoration, whilst Smithers is subtly courting him and fancies a romantic involvement with him. An indispensable part of the Springfield scene, bartender Moe is old, lonely and with little future perspectives. Very regular characters are also Apu, the Indian owner of the local minimart, Krusty the clown, religious neighbour Ned Flanders and school groundskeeper Willie, who is a hilarious sum of clichés about Scottish men.
There is an abundance of characters, some of them seldom used. The use of catchphrases is quite frequent, the most famous being Homer’s “D’oh...!” Homer himself has almost become a trademark. The Simpsons is one of the only satires mild enough to appeal to every kind of public, as the level of crudeness is always kept suitable, and when considering the line between funny and inappropriate, this series always stays on the good side.