A good seven years ago, some friends and I were discussing The Simpsons, and how the show had, of late, slipped into mediocrity—relying more and more on meta-humor, fleeting pop culture references, and a writing cast that seemed to be phoning it in.
"That all may be true," one of us said, "but what are you doing this Sunday night?"
There was only one answer: Watching The Simpsons. No matter how far the show had slipped, it was still something we looked forward to every week.
Many years have passed since I supposedly gave up on Homer & Co., and, sure, a busy adult life keeps me away from the television most nights, let alone on the Lord's day—but there's no denying the euphoric bio-chemical reaction that happens in my brain whenever I hear the opening choral wash of the theme. And sometimes I still race home from work, hoping to catch a pre-dinner episode on syndication.
I'm not alone. There are millions of people in my age range (yes, I'm talking to you) for whom The Simpsons is a habit we'll never be able to kick. But why, when so many other shows have come and gone, has this one continued to throttle our inner children?
There are two reasons, I think. One is that the show is one of the few cultural phenomena to have carried us all the way through our awkward pre-teen years into adulthood. The second is that it's always been so multilayered that it's appealed to bullies as well as bookworms. For much of my early and teen life, a love of The Simpsons may have been the only thing I had in common with the kids who beat me up—they were in it for the crass physical humor, but I understood it for its intelligence and subversion.
I can't say I'm thrilled about The Simpsons Movie coming out this weekend, as opposed to the show's boom years when people like Conan O'Brien were at the helm. But there's no escaping the question: "What else am I doing on opening day?" See you in line. SCOTT MOORE