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Tessa Monterville

Sociology of the Simpsons


The definition of what consitutes a "family" has definitely

changed over time. Usually, what constitutes making up a family is relative to a specific culture, but as always, there are exceptions to the rule. Ever since the golden age of television had sprung upon American culture, it has tried to mimic the "ideal" American family through it's programming. Even as early as the 1950's, television producers made

programming that would represent what exactly the ideal American family was.

Take for example the show "Leave It to Beaver". There was a father figure, his job, or

responsibility rather, was to financially support the family, while being an exemplary father to his children. The mother on the other hand, was solely responsible for being a typical housewife, while not neglecting the rearing of her children. The children did not have any real responsibility, but they respected their parents and attempted to stay out of trouble. Television shows for the most part in this early era of programming followed among these guidelines.

However, it is not in a drama that American family life is best represented

in the 1990's. Instead, it is in the animated series, "The Simpsons".

"The Simpsons" follows suit with the other dramas that reflected the decade

in which they aired. According to the U.S. consensus for March 1998, the

majority of households in America are married couples (U.S. Consensus pp. 1,

3,4,6). The Simpson's meet this. Also according to the consensus, the

average married couple has approximately 2.6 children per household (U.S.

Consensus, Household Characteristics p.1). Since there cannot be six-tenths

of a child, I will round up to three children, in which the Simpson family

has: Bart, Lisa and Maggie. Also, the average American is a blue-collar

worker. The father figure, Homer, meets this factor with his job at the

nuclear power plant within his hometown of Springfield. So according to the

statistics, the Simpson family could be considered an average American family. Homer Simpson is the father figure of the household, whose responsibilities include financially supporting the household, since he is the household's primary source of income. He has his flaws like any person would, but somehow he and his family tend to work it out. Some of his mishaps are very similar to those that most of us have had to face. For

example, he leaves the keys in his door to the house quite often (Hall, "The Homer File"p. 2). Another example, would be the time when he attempted to un-jam a toaster by shoving a knife in and out of it (Hall, "The Homer File" p.2). Homer also expresses concerns over his obesity as well as being a bad father (Hall, "The Homer File" p. 3). He also has a problem with his cursing, as well as his consumption of alcohol (Hall, "The Homer File" p. 3). Now, do any of these sound familiar to you? Leaving keys in doors are a common thing for most Americans. Whether it is going to or from the car, or even leaving keys in the vehicle lock, is something that everyone has done from time to time. To have Homer do it, well, it is a chance for everyone to laugh at themselves. While trying to unclog a toaster with a knife is relatively uncommon, it still does happen.

Why personal experience and common sense would dictate for a person to do otherwise, people still nonetheless do it. A new craze that has swept Americans is the craze to be physically fit, and since Homer would represent the typical American, this is a concern that has crossed his mind. Every father that I know, strives to be the best father he can be, and always worries if he is living up to the expectations they have of themselves in their adventure in parenting. Ever since movies and television began introducing curse words in their daily programming and shows, foul language has been something that plagues American speech. While Homer's is not as bad as some, he does have his moments. Alcoholism is a disease that is rapidly growing in America. Homer's fondness for beer would certainly put him in this category.

Next, there is Homer's wife, Marge. Marge is the perfect example of the term "housewife". Marge is the foundation of the family, always trying to maintain the

household and to rear her children. She is concerned about what her children

watch on television (Hall, "The Marge File" p. 2), while passing on family traditions to her children (Hall, "The Marge File" p. 2). She even attempted to work to help supplement the family income, but ended up leaving the job to return to her household, which she felt had a higher priority (Hall, "The Marge File" p. 2). To sum up Marge, she is a character that holds her family together and is always there for her family no matter what they have done. Mothers are usually figures that nurture their children and do everything possible for them. They get involved in their child's life and raise them

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