30 years ago today, a bunch of frigid yellow people made their way into an Elementary School carol recital, and pop culture was changed forever when Fox broadcast “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire,” the very first episode of The Simpsons. It wasn’t the families’ first appearance ever, of course, but it set them on a path to cultural dominance.
In the three decades since, the show has grown so rapidly and into such an alien scope from those early beginnings. But whatever you feel about the influential rise and fall of The Simpsons as it stands as an entity today, its cemented status within the bedrock of pop culture has given us some not just all-time great guest stars, but basically a secondary cultural language in the form of The Simpsons riffing on other pop culture. How many of us grew up knowing at least one movie, book, play, or TV show not because we knew of the source material, but because it had been embedded into our brains via The Simpsons riffing on it?
From Treehouse of Horror swinging for all-time Horror classics, to iconic episodes like “The Springfield Files” (my personal favorite, and just one of the best half-hours of television full stop), couch gag after couch gag, to countless parodies of some of our favourite sci-fi and fantasy—Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Batman ‘66, Planet of the Apes, Bond, god, so much Disney that it all feels like foresight. Hell, they even got snapped by Thanos. If it exists, The Simpsons has probably transformed it into at least three gags.
So to celebrate 30 years of homage hits (and maybe not-so-hits), share your own favorites in the comments.
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