With over 20 seasons, "The Simpsons" is a cultural phenomenon and America's longest-running animated program.
"The Simpsons" were born in the lobby of James L. Brooks' office much the way babies in sitcoms are delivered in the back of taxis. Matt Groening had a 1986 meeting scheduled with Brooks to create an animated "bumper" to bracket commercial breaks on Fox's "The Tracey Ullman Show" (Brooks was the show's producer). Groening roughed out a sketch of a surly looking family, which resembles the Simpsons of today about as much as Bizarro resembles Superman.
The Simpsons got their own series in 1989 and within three years the show was a monumental merchandising empire, with kids in Third World countries sporting surplus "Don't have a cow, man!" T-shirts. And the show just kept on going and going, thanks in large part to characters that never age and a cast, hidden behind animation, who don't wear on viewers the way, say, the visibly uninterested stars of "MASH" did after a decade in the same tents.
The show has touched nearly every corner of America, and has become a favorite all over the world. Over the last two decades, generations of TV viewers around the globe have soaked in the Simpsons way of life. The show is dubbed into 15 languages and subtitled into 27.
At the entrance to the town of Springfield, New Zealand, there's a 12-foot-tall sculpture of a pink glazed doughnut. Voters in a congressional election in Argentina cast ballots for a candidate named Homer Simpson from the Donuts and Beer Party. When Brits were asked in an online survey to name their most admired Americans, Homer outranked Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. In Belgrade, Serbia, a popular cellphone tone is "Spider Pig," a tune Homer sings to his pet swine.
In the last several years, the show hit episode No. 450, won the Emmy for best animated program, the Writers Guild Award for best animated script and a People's Choice Award for cartoons. In all, the series has won 25 Emmy awards and is not slowing down.
Die-hard "Simpsons" fans will quibble about quality: The show is still good, but nothing matches Seasons 3 through 5, the show's "golden age." But, it seems, the show is still attracting new viewers every episode.