For the vast majority of its time on the air, The Simpsons has been hated.
Okay, not outright hated per se, but certainly looked down on by a large chunk of its audience.
The original ten or so seasons of The Simpsons is held up as an awakening for television as a whole. All modern satire can trace its roots back to Matt Groening’s cartoon family, as it pioneered comedy that took a long, hard look at the media landscape of the Nineties and pointed out all the ridiculous stuff audiences had been taking for granted.
Its popularity was so great, during its height, that the show has been accused of coasting ever since. It’s very, very common to hear people complain that The Simpsons is just no good anymore. The jokes aren’t as funny, the satire isn’t as witty. Everything feels tired and boring.
This criticism has gone on now for almost twice as long as the show’s supposed golden era – and yet, The Simpsons is still with us.
If there’s a reason for this, it’s that something in the show still connects with audiences. As the years have gone on, movies and television have changed, and so has The Simpsons and the show’s subject matter.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the premiere episode for Season 29, in which The Simpsons go full Game of Thrones.
This new episode is merciless in its attack of the source material, pointing fun at all the weird and wonderful creations in George RR Martin’s classic fantasy world. There’s also ample opportunity for the show to spoof the wider fantasy genre, because when you’re in a setting like this, it’s more fun to stretch out and embrace a series of different tropes.
So how is this starting episode for the current season of The Simpsons?
It’s good! Lots of fun, especially for anyone who enjoys Game of Thrones enough to get a real kick out of hearing Jamie Lannister voice Marge’s twin brother.
Is this new episode better than the original run of The Simpsons, from back before fans started noting a decline? That’s debatable, but it’s certainly more relevant to modern television audiences at this particular moment in time.
The original Simpsons episodes aren’t going anywhere, and they’re as funny as they’ve ever been, even if younger viewers probably won’t get a lot of the pop culture references.
— The Simpsons (@TheSimpsons) October 2, 2017
For a modern audience, though, there’s definitely still a place in the zeitgeist for this kind of parody, and The Simpsons is still the best way to get a fix of silly humor that comes from poking fun at a show that regularly takes itself seriously.
If you’re still of the opinion that all modern Simpsons episodes are a waste of time, watch this one and see whether you still agree. You might find that this show is as fresh and fun as ever, and is all the more fun for its references to Game of Thrones and other modern fantasy stories.