PostedJuly 31, 2004
Gladly, one of television’s longest-running series is also one of its most literate and hilarious. Produced by Matt Groening, James L. Brooks, and Sam Simon, The Simpsons has continually defied expectations since its first episode aired in 1989.
Literary references abound in each episode, and fans know that The Simpsons writers never waste a frame. Fast paced references to Keats, Poe, Shakespeare, and Ginsberg will make poetry lovers’ ears perk up. Even more remarkably, the series has featured guest appearances by Paris Review editor George Plimpton and former U. S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, both playing themselves.
The series’ literary loves are most often channeled through the passions of its most thoughtful character, Lisa Simpson, who, to the chagrin of her family and peers, reads and writes poetry. After the death of her beloved cat Snowball, Lisa penned this verse:
I had a cat named Snowball...
Mom said she was sleeping...
Why oh why is my cat dead?
Couldn't that Chrysler hit me instead?
Much like poetry itself, The Simpsons can contain almost anything, and the interests and knowledge of its writers span from Greek mythology to pop culture. The writers’ expressions are mixtures of the new and the old, the forgotten and the unforgettable, the eloquent and the bawdy. What else could one expect from the series that Time magazine called the best television show of the twentieth century??>