I would like to clarify that I do not own any content from the Simpsons and that what I have used is to show how awesome they are. Visit your local DVD store and purchase some episodes, seriously, you won’t regret it.
You might want to grab a coffee (or what ever beverage that you drink) and sit yourself down. This is probably the longest post I’m ever going to write.
Some people have shows that inspire them, some will bring them to tears, some will make you piss yourself uncontrollably because something has been so fucking funny. The Simpsons has done this for me. All of it and more. From someone who’s old enough to have seen the very first episode where they get “Santa’s little helper” , till now, I have been there, and they have been there for me. Hell, even right now, as i am typing this post, I am watching the episode where Homer becomes a truck driver because of a steak challenge. The Simpsons has been there for me through some of my most terrible times.
Only last year I properly got Kai into the Simpsons and I told him to start watching the first series. He was amused with me as I ran close to the TV because the episode “Moaning Lisa” came on. I explained to him that its probably one of the most accurate episodes for depression you will ever see in a 22 minuet slot. From the moment when Lisa meets “bleeding gums” Murphy , the whole episode sets the tone.
The blues isn’t meant to make you feel better, its about making other people feel worse
Lisa battles with depressive thoughts throughout the episode and is stuck in a creative rut not helped by her mother and her music teacher. Marge then tells Lisa to fake feeling happy, because its whats on the outside that counts. Marge quickly has a change of heart when she sees Lisa struggle and delivers a speech that makes me cry every time I hear it.
Lisa, I apologise to you, I was wrong, I take it all back. Always be yourself. If you want to be sad, honey, be sad. We’ll ride it out with you. And when you get finished feeling sad, we’ll still be there. From now on, let me do the smiling for both of us.
This point. This single quote has torn through my emotions since the first day I have seen the Simpsons and will continue to. This is what got me through my breakdown. I have attempted suicide several tines in my life, and my mum has been there to support me throughout my life. This one quote reminds me of the times coming back from the hospital, or when my mum saw me at my worst.
In the series there is several mentions of suicide. From when Homer looses his job and decides he’s going to throw himself of a bridge to later on in the series when Moe hangs himself and is saved by Homer. You become emotionally invested in a character.
Death has also played a huge part, something that is mentioned throughout many of the episodes. Such as the very first one when in the letter to the family Marge mentions that the cat (snowball 1) had passed away. There was also bleeding gums, Grampa’s lover, more cats, and most notably in “one fish, two fish, red fish, blow fish” where Homer is given 24 hours to live. He spends his last 24 hours trying to make up for lost time and wants the precious moments spent with his family. The people who he truly loves. As well as death, grief in other forms are also discussed and they are played out almost perfectly. The finest example is where in season 2 Lisa gets a new substitute teacher and realises that he would be the greatest thing for her. Eventually he has to leave and Lisa tracks him down at a train station where as she says how she does not want him to go, he hands her a note and boards the train. The episodes (and others similar) have taught me that depressive feelings are not permanent, that life is evolving and bound to change, and that if you loose someone, you will have the memories in your head and their impressions permanently imprinted in your heart.
I know this post has been pretty heavy so far, and for good reason, life has ups and downs, and life will shit on you even from an early age, you just need to get back up and try again and again. You see this doesn’t stand out more then the episode “Bart gets an F”. He is torn because after years of refusing to work on himself and his behaviour he is forced to knuckle down and work his arse off to pass the year or he has to retake the year again. He speaks to Otto and they get and make Bart feel better by saying that they retook the year twice and they turned out great, something which Bart knew was false, because Otto is drug dependant and a bus driver. Bart eventually starts working to pass his exam, only to be told that he failed it anyway. He breaks down and says how he feels Luke he’s a failure. The scene changes though because he has remembered it, he can list off everything. He just can’t write it down. This showed me that there are other ways to measure success and that systems such as exams need to be able to be catered to people, as opposed to one basic system.
Its not just Bart’s realisation that has encouraged me to do the things I want to in life, but there have been other moments in the series. Marge has always been a passionate artist and still occasionally paints, even though she has been told not to bother. Even Homer has dabbled into the art world, due to an accident trying to make a BBQ pit.
Homer has dabbled in many professions and he teaches you that it’s OK. That you can be way past your 30s and still not know what to do with your life. That its OK to switch things up a bit and that you don’t have to be stuck in something that you truly hate. In over 500 episodes he has had more jobs or different career paths than I have had hot dinners. Yes many of then have been total failures but the point still stands. He gets up, dusts himself off and tries again.
Homer has had many different view points in his life too and has had a change of heart once he has become educated. He was utterly terrified that Bart would come out as gay, and that gay people around him would be the worst thing in the world. Now if you fast forward several series later, not only does he accept gays, he becomes a priest so he can get gay people married. Even his Sister in law. The only person who has an issue with it, is in fact Marge, because she believed that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. Something she later retracts later on because she saw how much her sister is in love. Now there is a point where I have an issue, the partner who she is with is a cross dresser and there is a huge issue with them being that. However at the end it is resolved and that Patty and Leslie go their separate ways.
The show has been wonderful in that I have been able to come out as both bisexual and trans and gave something I could actually relate to. I knew what my family were going through, because I could see it clearly on a TV show. If I didn’t have anything I could relate to, I would have gone crazy.
Finally the last point that I would like to talk about is that the Simpsons have made me a better family person. Even though there have been rows, drama, breaking the law and trips to both regular hospital and mental hospitals, they have been there for each other.
Homer gave up his life of working at a bowling alley to get more money for the family. He hated that job, and hates Mr Burn’s even more but he takes the job because he has to. He then covers his work station with photos to remind him that he’s there for a reason.
There have been times where both Marge and Homer have seen the kids struggle, and have tried their hardest to make them feel better. Homer has always been the “idiotic character” but when shit hits the fan, he has always been there, and always tried to make it up with Marge if he’s been a terrible husband. In that sense he is like Bart, where he doesn’t know in a conventional sense how to show how he actually feels, and often does something idiotic, where as if he stopped to think, he would be able to find a solution pretty quickly. He also struggles with his emotions, which is easily relatable to most people.
How this has helped me, its simple really. This dysfunctional family, this family that’s been around the same period of time as me. Is me. It’s MY family. Its what WE have dealt with and over come. Regardless of what situation, or drama, we have come back fighting and that is something everyone could understand.
Thank you for reading this. For more information on the Simpsons , please watch some episodes. Grab a series and start viewing.