Once again, The Simpsons have made history. In a mega move by Fox, the animated series has been picked up for two more seasons, enabling it to continue its tenure as the longest-running scripted series of all time. You would think that, with 28 Emmys, a movie, and a theme park under its belt, The Simpsons would be running out of things to accomplish, but the series continues to impress. How the show hasn’t exhausted all of its ideas after 26 years, I don’t know. Maybe they have. Maybe they’re actually scrambling to come up with new storylines and they’re putting on a brave face for the media. If that’s the case (which we doubt), I have a few ideas to get them started, because there are plenty of things I would still like to see happen on this show.
1) Turn The Simpsons into a real sitcom.
The Simpsons is not only the longest running animated series in the world but, arguably, it’s also the longest running sitcom in the world. My question, then, is why don’t we treat The Simpsons like any other sitcom? Where’s the laugh track? Where’s the catchy opening that profiles each of the characters and their quirks? Bart and Homer, of course, already have their own catchphrases, but why not the other characters? Why doesn’t Marge have her own “How you doin’?” The creators could approach this genre experiment in a number of ways: maybe Homer hits his head and starts re-imagining his life as a sitcom or maybe the end of the episode reveals that the town of Springfield is actually a figment of some TV-obsessed child’s imagination. The possibilities are endless.
2) Have a birthday party where the characters don’t age.
“Wait, Lisa is still 8 years old?” That was the reaction one of my friends had when I told her The Simpsons had been renewed for another two seasons. For those of us who are used to watching real-life comedies, where the characters are played by actors who inevitably start to age after a few seasons, witnessing Lisa Simpson repeat grade school year after year can feel a bit unsettling. Why not play on that long-running inside joke? We all know that the characters never age, but no one seems to have questioned what happens when birthday season rolls around. An episode that features Lisa sitting in front of a Carvel cake and blowing out 8 candles yet again offers plenty of opportunities for the creators to poke fun at their immortal characters. “Wait, didn’t Lisa turn 8 last year?” I can hear Homer saying, before shrugging off the thought and going along with the celebration.
3) Have Lisa discover that she was switched at birth.
Speaking of Lisa, this high-achieving, honor roll student has never fit into the stereotypical “Simpson family” mold. She’s smart, she’s clever, and she would never dream of skateboarding through town in the nude. This provides the perfect fodder for a classic “switched at birth” episode. Perhaps, in searching through a collection of old documents, she finds her birth certificate and discovers that there are different names listed under “Parents.” Driven by curiosity and a need to fit in, maybe she hunts down her “real family,” filled with people that have read and actually enjoyed Infinite Jest, people that understand her complicated science references, and don’t answer every difficult question with “eat my shorts.”
4) See The Simpsons meet their “doubles.”
In the 500th episode of Matt Groening’s series, the family stumbles across a secret town meeting in which the members of the town have come together to discuss banishing the Simpsons from Springfield. The family is sent to a new town appropriately named The Outlands, in which they are able to rebuild their life. Marge’s stories about how great the Outlands is make their way to Springfield and soon, the entire town has relocated to the “new Springfield.” But one question was left unanswered: what happened to old Springfield after the town evacuated? In the new season, the characters could take a road trip to their old home, which turns out to be filled with “alternate universe” versions of themselves.
5) The Simpsons take a trip to Rhode Island!
Not every episode of The Simpsons is set in Springfield. The family has traveled all around the world over the past 26 years, making their way to places like England, Italy, LA, and New York. Now, this might take some negotiation with Seth MacFarlane, but what if Homer and the crew visited Rhode Island for a day and stopped by the fictional town of Quahog (where Family Guy is set). Yes, there was already a Simpsons/Family Guy crossover episode, but this episode would be different. On this excursion, the two families wouldn’t actually have to interact. Maybe Marge is wandering around a busy marketplace and Peter Griffin and his family casually walk by in the background? Or maybe the Griffins’ name shows up on a petition that Lisa is signing? Fans love hunting down these little easter eggs, and it would be fun to see how the creators could blend those two worlds together.
Those are my suggestions, but what about you? What would you like to see on The Simpsons next season?