Maybe I’m dating myself here by admitting that between the ages of 10 and 23, I spent roughly 4000 hours watching The Simpsons. I was also stoned for a full eight of those thirteen years, which may or may not be related. But then the show’s best writers left, episodes got less funny and more gonzo, a mediocre spin-off movie came out, and all the young kids started watching South Park, Family Guy, and probably some new cartoon I haven’t even heard of yet.
I remember once getting into a huge Simpsons vs. Family Guy debate with one of my little brother’s friends in which I tried to explain that without the Simpsons , there never would have been a Family Guy, to which he replied with some snarky collegiate comment about the anxiety of influence and killing your fathers. I then proceeded to ask if Family Guy had ever made him cry, because outcast Lisa, honorable Marge, sad-clown Bart, and well-intentioned Homer had brought me to tears dozens of times in heart-broken empathy. I think the argument ended with him calling me a pussy, and stealing whatever girl I’d been trying to impress with my earnestness.
Anyway, the reason I bring all this up is because golden era Simpsons‘ showrunner Bill Oakley has just made public a list of never-made ideas for Simpsons episodes and jokes. Some of the ideas are pretty minimal – e.g. “Speed limit raised to 100mph” – but it’s fun to see these genius comedic minds at work, and to imagine episodes that will sadly never exist. Because wouldn’t it be great if Flanders really had written a sci-fi novel?