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Lessons from The Simpsons Characters

Homer Simpson; First impressions are shallow

On the surface Homer Simpson is a buffoon. He is an insensitive spouse, an inept parent, and an incompetent worker. A close examination shows the shallowness of such judgments. Soon after graduating high school Homer impregnated his girlfriend and promptly married her. The nuclear power plant was the only employer in town that paid a new employee, who didn’t have a college degree, enough to support a family. Homer got a job at the nuclear power plant. He had no talent or interest in working at the power plant. There were other jobs better suited to his talents but fate[i] and family considerations[ii] prevented him from keeping any other job except the nuclear power plant job. Despite numerous temptations from beautiful women Homer has remained faithful to his spouse. He is devoted to his spouse and attempts to do whatever she asks of him.

[i] And Maggie Makes Three – In this episode Homer figures out he can make just enough money working at his dream job if everything stays just as it is. He quits his job and gets his job at the bowling alley. Then Marge becomes pregnant with Maggie and Homer has to go back to working at the nuclear power plant.

[ii] You Only Move Twice – In this episode Homer gets a supervisory position working for the Globex Corporation. He excels in this position but resigns because his family is unhappy.

Marge Simpson; Trying to improve your spouse is not being a good spouse.

On the surface Marge Simpson is a long suffering wife and a devoted mother. A close examination reveals she is a jealous, domineering, and judgmental woman. She never misses an opportunity to point out her husband’s faults[i]. Despite her lack of respect for him she gets angry anytime another woman gives him any attention. Her jealousy caused Homer to give up a lucrative career as a manager of a Country Western singer.[ii] Marge is not without faults. She has a gambling problem, has on occasion drank too much wine, and came close to having an affair with her bowling instructor.

[i] The War of the Simpsons – In this episode when asked Marge spends hours pointing out Homer’s faults. When it was Homer’s turn he said Marge was perfect.

[ii] Colonel Homer

Simpson; Acting intelligent makes people overlook many of your faults.

On the surface Lisa Simpson is a good, intelligent girl. A close examination reveals she is also mischievous[i], manipulative[ii], and rude[iii]. Because she gets good grades in school her misbehavior is largely overlooked. Is she truly intelligent[iv] or is her intelligence simply a result of her reading and repeating what others have written?[v]

[i] Duffless – In this episode Lisa’s experiment for the science fair is to prove her brother Bart doesn’t have the intelligence of an average hamster. Bart won first prize at the science fair. Lisa complained about the outcome but Bart understood how to win while Lisa didn't

[ii] Million Dollar Abe – Abe becomes a matador and becomes popular. Lisa, who believes bullfighting “is a cruel pseudo-sport” plays on Abe’s emotions to get him to stop the bullfights.

[iii] Lisa’s Substitute – In this episode Lisa calls her father a “baboon”. Marge, true to character, chastises Homer.

[iv] They Saved Lisa’s Brain – In this episode Lisa and Springfield’s other smart people put themselves in charge of the city. They make a mess of things.

[v] Separate Vocations – In this episode Lisa takes a career aptitude test. The test results show she is best suited to be a homemaker.

Abe Simpson; Bitter people often have reason to be.

On the surface Abe Simpson is a feeble, bitter, old man. A close examination reveals all his life people have used and abused him. He had a faithless wife who deserted him and her son[i]. Abe’s son sent him to a retirement home two weeks after Abe put a down payment on Homer’s house.

[i] Mother Simpson

Ned Flanders; Casual or non-believers often dislike the devout for being devout.

On the surface Ned Flanders is a narrow minded Christian zealot. A close examination reveals him to be good natured and generous to a fault[i]. He often loans things to Homer which Homer never returns. While Ned has many definite opinions he doesn’t proselytize. He is an expert at turning the other cheek. Homer despises Ned.[ii]

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[i] Bart’s Comet – In this episode a comet is headed for Springfield. The only person with a fallout shelter is Ned Flanders. In his kindness he lets everyone in the town inside his shelter. There is one person more than the shelter can hold so the rest of the town votes Ned out of the shelter. He willingly leaves.

[ii] When Flanders Failed – In this episode Ned Flanders opens a store. Homer hopes for his failure.

Montgomery Burns; Sometimes the old ways are the best ways.

On the surface Montgomery Burns is a greedy old man who is completely out of touch with modern times. This is largely true but it is shortsighted to dismiss him as a cruel fossil. Montgomery Burns owns and operates a nuclear power plant. His employees are mostly lazy and inept. Despite this he keeps the plant running and makes a large profit. Others who have tried to run the plant using modern business practices failed miserably.[i]

[i] Burns Verkaufen der Kraftwerk – In this episode a German company buys the power plant. They institute modern business practices and set out to follow the regulations for the operation of a nuclear facility. They soon discover running a nuclear plant this way is a financial disaster and sell the plant back to Mr. Burns.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Robert Sacchi


Robert Sacchi (author) on August 26, 2019:

Thank you for reading and commenting. Yes, there are many lessons to be learned from television shows and movies. Often it isn't the lesson the writers intended.

Dale Anderson from The High Seas on August 26, 2019:

I get a shocking amount of my life philosophies and tactics from the Simpsons so I am glad to learn that I am not the only one. I think one of the things that makes this show so funny is the ring of truth it has in a lot of situations.

Robert Sacchi (author) on April 02, 2019:

Thank you for reading and commenting. The Simpsons have played both sides of the aisle and have taken hits from both sides. I heard a homily where the priest showed how Jonah was a Homer Simpson type character. Too bad Matt Groening didn't think of that. It would make a great episode.

C E Clark from North Texas on April 02, 2019:

You know, of course, that most "good Christians" wouldn't be caught dead watching the Simpson's. It offended one of them at some early point and that offended Christian spread the word that The Simpsons program was evil and they all allowed that offended person to make that judgment in their lives without questioning it and so would never watch it even one time and make their own judgment.

So many people are closed minded and as a result they become the thing they claim to despise.

I thank you for your analysis here. I think it is fantastic and I love it!

Robert Sacchi (author) on October 27, 2016:

Yes, they have some good observational humor on politics and other subjects. I especially like their Halloween Specials, granted they are often gory.

Susie Lehto from Minnesota on October 27, 2016:

I haven't been a Simpsons watcher. However, I do like to watch short political clips of it on YouTube occasionally. It can be pretty funny.

Robert Sacchi (author) on June 27, 2016:

Thank you. Long running TV shows like The Simpsons often reflect and affect our culture. The episode with the fallout shelter is a great example. A priest at my parish during a homily about a passage from The Book of Jonah pointed out Jonah was a sort of anti-prophet. He made a verbal image of Homer Simpson as Jonah. I think it would make a great episode and they could play it straight.

C E Clark from North Texas on June 27, 2016:

As with politics, most people parrot what they hear and never actually learn the facts. They happily go through life voting for and believing and promoting lies.

This is the way the Simpson's TV program is thought of by many people who will never admit to watching it even if they did. Very few 'good Christians' will ever look at it. They have heard (never seen for themselves) that there is vulgar language included and that inappropriate behavior is rampant, so they don't bother to check it out for themselves.

This is one of my daughter's favorite shows and has been since she was very young. I find more offensive words and reports in our daily national news quite frankly. I recall the episode with Ned and the fallout shelter. I have to agree that most people hate people who are kind, thoughtful, generous, and humble, and make it no secret how they feel.

Very interesting analysis.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 20, 2016:

Oh one ever accused me of being up to date on the latest of fads, television shows, etc. Ha!

Robert Sacchi (author) on May 15, 2016:

Too bad you didn't read such an article a few years back. The Simpsons is well past its prime as a TV series so has lost much of its social significance. A decade ago people often pointed to Simpsons episodes for an analogy.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 15, 2016:

I am another one who never watched the Simpsons. At least after reading this I have some idea of what the subject matter was. Thanks!

Robert Sacchi (author) on January 24, 2016:

Thank you very much. The Simpsons is an iconic U.S. animated series. In honesty though the show is probably well past its prime.

Shaloo Walia from India on January 23, 2016:

Interesting lessons! I have never watched this show. So I don't have much idea about the characters but the lessons you have shared are priceless.

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