The Simpsons: Staying Relevant

After learning and reading about 1980s sitcoms, and the sitcom genre in general it’s crazy to think that The Simpsons has lasted from the 80s to present day. The Simpsons was created in 1989, which is obviously late in the 80, but still a 27 season series pretty impressive. The Simpsons celebrated its 600th episode on Sunday and the series nears the record for most episodes of an American scripted prime-time show.



I have not watched many episodes of The Simpsons (I prefer Family Guy over most animated sitcoms) but you cannot deny the show’s capability in keeping up with popular culture and technology. For example, to celebrate the series’ 600th episode The Simpsons worked with Google to create a Virtual Reality experience. Their 600th episode, titled Treehouse of Horror XXVII, opens with a couch gag that can be viewed in 360-degree virtual reality. You need to download the Google Spotlight Stories app, which allows viewers to engage with a 360-degree experience that responds to their movement.




You still can download the app to experience the scenes in virtual reality and go on You need to download Spotlight Stories, which lets you scan the entire 360-degree scenes for visual jokes.



I wondered about how The Simpsons has stayed on air for so long, and it was helpful understanding the process of an episode (explained in depth in this article) The process begins with a pitch. This reminded me of our process in creating an episode of New Girl. We all met as a group and pitched funny ideas and scenarios that viewers would want to watch. After pitching ideas, The Simpsons’ co-creator Matt Groening, executive producer James L. Brooks, and showrunner Al Jean provide feedback.


I was intrigued by the table read of an animated series–how does a table read dynamic change? The only “human” part of the episode is the character’s voice as everything else is animated and digitally produced. For The Simpsons each Thursday the production, cast members, producers, and writers meet to read the latest script. Often some of the cast phone in the room instead of actually being at the office. Following the table read is a voice recording where the actors do not even record together, instead the voice recording is made on separate tracks.

Al Jean commented,

“It’s funny … I read a review in The AV Club where they said about a certain show there was great interaction between two people, and they never met. They didn’t record in the same place. I’m glad it worked, but there was no physical connection.”


Do you think part of the series’ success and longevity is due to it being less laboring over the actors (albeit more for the director/producer/showrunner) ? Or is it more due to keeping up with our time and offering experiences like Virtual Reality?


– Ziba Klein

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4 Responses to The Simpsons: Staying Relevant

  1. mediaphiles says:

    I agree, I cannot believe that the Simpsons is still around from the 1980s!!! They really have done a remarkable job of staying relevant, and I like your comment about how a pitch can be so important to this.

    Stephanie Rubin

  2. mediaphiles says:

    Wow, I was not aware that the Simpsons series had been running for 27 years and I am shocked that it has been able to do so. The ingenuity and creative thinking that the producers have displayed in keeping the interest of viewers for nearly 3 decades is incredibly impressive. I feel like most shows tend to run their course after just 10 seasons or so at most and to keep coming up with new and fresh ideas that appeal to 3 different decades of audiences with completely differing interests is incredible.

    -Max Lissette

  3. mediaphiles says:

    Wow, like Max, I had no idea the Simpsons had been running for 27 years either! It absolutely is impressive and I think the creators’ willingness to bend and improve their story lines is amazing. To answer your question, I think it’s a combination of both. The creators were able to create a fusion of the classic, adored characters and continue to give them a modern spin with each new generation. Awesome. Hopefully they’ll keep this up and follow some more progressive guidelines as well! – Corey

  4. mediaphiles says:

    The voice actors may have stayed on for so long because they genuinely love doing the Simpsons. It may be just as fun of a show to voice as it is to watch. I do give some credit to the shows long success to it’s ability to stay relevant to what is going on in the world. This helps the audience to better relate to the show. It is one of those sitcoms where it shows a somewhat realistic family doing completely unrealistic things, which is hilarious.

    -turner arrington

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