The Simpsons are the America’s favorite dysfunctional family with a satirical representation of working class family and their lifestyle. It is now the longest-running sitcom and also the longest-running animated series in America with an astounding 27 seasons aired since its debut in 1989.
There are several interesting things about The Simpsons, the on-screen ones and the ones behind the scenes, that are amusing and entertaining to know. Some from IMDB, and some from everywhere else, here are some of those facts about The Simpsons that you wouldn’t want to miss.
1. The Simpsons was originally animated shorts aired as part of The Tracey Ullman Show in 1987. After three seasons, The Simpsons was developed into a half-hour prime-time show and is the most successful spin-offs of all time.
After deciding to include a short animation after commercial breaks, producer of The Tracey Ullman Show approached Matt Groening to pitch an idea. While waiting in the lobby for the meeting, Groening quickly drew a dysfunctional family naming the characters after his own family. After airing as part of the show, the production team began adapting The Simpsons into a complete show in 1989 and according to Groening it was to serve as an alternative to all the mainstream TV shows that were airing then. The Simpsons soon went onto become an early hit for Fox and its first series to be in the top 30 ratings category.(source)
2. It takes 6 to 8 months to complete just one episode of The Simpsons. The team also uses over 100 animators based in South Korea to get it done.
While making the episodes, first the production staff in U. S. creates storyboards, new characters, backgrounds and props. These are then reviewed by the writers and then shipped overseas. To make the episodes Fox subcontracted several international animation studios in South Korea. These studios draw the inbetweens, ink and paint, and render the animation and delivered back to Fox three or four months later. This way they managed to decrease the production costs and yet get the quality required for a prime-time animation show.(1, 2)
3. The Simpsons producer’s contract allows the writers to write the show without any interference from Fox. This allowed them great liberty in creating outrageous stories for many episodes and even joke about the network.
The writers were able to negotiate such unusual contract because Fox was still small fledgling network at that time. According to Josh Weinstein, the producer, they “pretty much were able to get away with anything.” They were also able to write and produce many crazy high-end concept episodes such as ‘Two Bad Neighbors’ and ‘Homer’s Enemy’. They even parodied the network’s notes in one of the episodes, ‘Day of the Jackanapes’, in which Krusty was pestered by executives and so leaves Krusty, the Klown Show.(source)
4. Only two characters in The Simpsons have fiver fingers – God and Jesus Christ.
Every character in The Simpsons has only four fingers. God is depicted, according to many monotheistic religions of the show, as the Almighty and the creator of the Universe who resides in Heaven. His face is almost never shown on the screen in the show. God’s son Jesus Christ is also another such character in the show with five fingers. According to Simon Singh’s book “The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secerts”, having five fingers sets them apart from all other characters, giving them a status of divinity.(1, 2)
5. During the opening credits of the show, Maggie is run through a supermarket scanner which reads that she is worth $847.63. It was a reference to the monthly expenses of rearing a baby in 1989.
Maggie is the youngest of the Simpsons children and also the most detached. As an infant, she never speaks and communicates through gestures and facial expressions. In the opening credits, Maggie briefly gives her mother a scare and turns up at the scanner. For the 138th episode ‘Spectacular’, the scanner instead reads “NRA4EVER”, a reference to a running joke that the writers are right-wing radicals. In the new episodes the price was again changed to $486.52 to reflect the current rearing expenses.(source)