The Simpsons TV Poster Image

The Simpsons

Clever, fast-paced cartoon with edgy humor.
Parents recommendPopular with kids
  • Network: Fox
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1989

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Although much of the show's satirical, over-the-top humor can be construed as sending messages about irresponsibility, family dysfunction, and more, at their core the Simpson clan are a loving bunch who are always there for each other when the chips are down. Homer and Bart in particular are constantly challenged to "behave," and though they don't always fully succeed, they often learn lessons about self-control and caring for others. 

Positive role models

Really inappropriate role model behavior, but that's the joke. Bart is the poster child for defying authority, but has grown and learned a few things over the near 30-year run; Homer finds himself in one ridiculous situation after another, but his love and commitment to his family always wins out. Marge and Lisa are fairly reliable in their do-good natures, but they too have their weaknesses. 

Violence

Frequent slapstick and cartoon violence: car crashes, explosions, practical jokes, bullies beating up weaker kids. Characters are rarely injured, but on occasion, some do die and/or require treatment. Halloween specials are particularly violent, with disembodied limbs and heads, blood, and gore. Homer frequently chokes Bart; it's played as a joke. 

Sex

Innuendo-based humor is pretty frequent. Both subtle and not-so-subtle sexual references pop up. Women can be dressed like vamps.

Language

Language includes words such as "hell," "ass," and "damn." Bart is usually the main offender, though Grandpa Simpson is a dirty dog as well.

Consumerism

Frequent parodies of consumer goods, companies, real celebrities, brands. 

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Homer often drinks beer to excess. Characters are shown getting pass-out drunk, and many scenes are set in a bar. It's often implied that bus driver Otto gets high. In several instances characters ingest mysterious liquids or foods that send them on psychedelic trips. 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the jokes in the long-running The Simpsons often zip past so quickly that kids won't get the deeper statements hidden within. Life in Springfield can be chaotic, and Homer could very well be the "do not try this at home" poster boy. You'll hear frequent "hell" and "damn," usually uttered by Bart. Homer frequently chokes Bart, but it's played for laughs. Religion, morality, ethics, and other sacred cows are mocked. Halloween specials are particularly violent, with characters killing each other in gruesome ways that may disturb young or sensitive viewers. Characters sometimes ingest food or drink that brings on psychedelic trips. Naked rear ends (animated) are sometimes visible, and sex is the subject of jokes (which kids may not get). Beer is consumed in every episode, bad habits are obliged, and ignorance and mockery are the norm, but somehow everyone gets along in the end. 

What's the story?

Family life for THE SIMPSONS is a chaotic blend of cheeky outbursts and consequent mending, as Homer (voiced by Dan Castellaneta) and Bart (Nancy Cartwright) -- unwittingly or not -- undermine Marge (Julie Kavner) and Lisa's (Yeardley Smith) good intentions. Bart finds joy in being a constant source of trouble. Homer earns his keep by falling asleep at the controls of Springfield's nuclear plant and drinks beer after work with fellow barflies who make the cast of Cheers look tame. But within this dynamic are heartfelt scenes and clever plot lines that make THE SIMPSONS a classic.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

This show isn't meant to be taken seriously; it's a rollicking ride through a fantasy society, and it satirizes very human traits. Audiences will find it to be a treat during troubled times. How else to explain the success of something so inane yet so undeniably witty? In the course of over 500 shows, The Simpsons have taken on everything from alcoholism to Burning Man to social media, keeping pace with the culture it mocks. Many of the topics it takes on are not suitable for young viewers, but the humor is genial enough that most of the naughty stuff will make parents merely wince rather than shut off the television. 

Ultimately, The Simpsons' scripts are terribly clever, and the cast portrays the characters with a sense of wit and care that has catapulted the series into TV legend. Just keep in mind that the show is pretty rude. Sensitive subjects will come up, and they will be mocked; Bart will always behave in ways that parents would prefer kids not emulate. Still, with humor that's by turns sophisticated/satirical and third-grade goofy, The Simpsons is the ideal whole-family show -- so long as you're not easily offended. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how different cartoon life on The Simpsons is from reality. Just because a show or movie is animated, does that mean it's OK for kids? Why, or why not?

  • What does responsibility mean? Would Homer and Bart get away with their antics in the real world? What types of things do the characters on this show do that people in real life could not? 

  • How do the Simpsons show each other their true feelings? When all is said and done, are they a happy family or a contentious one?

  • How do the characters on The Simpsons demonstrate communication and self-control? Why are these important character strengths?

TV details

Premiere date:December 17, 1989
Cast:Dan Castellaneta, Hank Azaria, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright
Network:Fox
Genre:Comedy
Topics:Brothers and sisters
Character strengths:Communication, Self-control
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:DVD, Streaming

This review of The Simpsons was written by

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Parent of a 8 and 12 year old Written bywillweber July 8, 2009

Not as bad as Family Guy

Most episodes of this show are O.K. for kids to watch, unless you worry about Homer's frequent alcohol consumption. Some episodes have mildy sexual content, so watch out. About the bad language, however, from what I can tell, my 12 year old son hears worse in middle school than this show ever utters. One last note; although Bart can be a bad role model, most of his stunts would be impossible for your child to repeat, so I wouldn't worry too much.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Great messages
Teen, 16 years old Written byracolson February 27, 2011

Awesome show for 6+

Good show all around, one of my favorite shows. I have been watching this since i was about 6 and honestly i think its good for kids 6+. There isn't too much violence or cussing, although Homer excessively drinks beer. Either way, a very well written show except for the latest episodes (2004-Present). I would prefer the older ones.
Kid, 10 years old October 13, 2010

Awesome show!!

Great show, nothing worse than d--n or a-s. Iffy 10+, on 12+. Common Sense has it wrong, as this is NOT aimed at adults, as it is partly a older family show.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Great messages
Great role models