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James Clayton

Sit-coms & soaps are they really for real? The Simpsons
Genre 1

According to production technology


Film:
The majority of TV shows dont release a film as a different episode of the show since they
are very expensive to produce and can take many years to finish. The Simpsons is an
American animated sit-com which has television episodes that last for around 25 minutes.
The creators behind the Simpsons decided to create a film for the television programme
since it had such a huge audience who were demanding a film. The movie was released on
the 21st July 2007 after it was produced with a budget of $75 million, the box office figures
for the film say it grossed $527.9 million. The movie was first released in Cinemas and then
was later released on a DVD. The film follows Homer Simpson whose irresponsibility gets
the better of him when he pollutes the lake in Springfield after
the town cleans it up when they had received a warning from
the Environmental Protection Agency. As the townspeople exile
him and eventually his family abandons him, Homer works to
redeem his folly by stopping Russ Cargill, the fictional head of
the EPA, when he intends to destroy Springfield by sealing it in
a huge glass dome.

Video:
Each episode for the Simpsons is done as a video since this is how theyve always been
created. These videos are shown on the television around the world since different TV
stations purchase the episodes in bulk which they can just play on repeat until they
purchase the rights to show newer episodes. The videos are produced through computer
animation as thats the way the show is created, this means that every
episode has to be first drawn out on storyboard and then created on
the computer using animation software. This finished animation is then
published in a format that is usable on the television. Certain episode
that may be specials are also burnt onto CDs which are then sold to the public.

Audio:
There arent any audio episode for the Simpson as they are all produced as video, they do
contain audio though. There may be some audio books of certain Simpsons episode but they
arent produced by the original creators of the Simpsons if there are.

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Print:
One of the official printed products that the Simpsons produces is their
Simpsons Comic. These Comic books contain different stories from
episodes of the show which have been turned into visual comics and
then printed in the magazine. Some of the stories are also new and
havent been shown in any of the Television episodes which means the
people reading the comic have exclusive access to them. Along with
the comics the magazine also contains different activities for the
person reading to complete. Since the magazine is aimed at a younger
audience it contains games where they have to colour in certain
characters from the TV show, these activities can take up whole pages of the magazine so
the drawings are easy to colour in. A new episode of the comic is released very month giving
the creators plenty of time to come up with new interesting stories and games for the
reader to enjoy. These magazine comics can be found at most newsagents, or you can
subscribe to them and have them delivered to your door.

Digital:
As the Simpsons is a computer animated cartoon all of it is produced digitally on the
computer. The starting process of an episode of the Simpsons is first the storyboarding,
these storyboards are then given to the animators who created all of the different scenes on
the computer. Whilst the animation is being designed voice overs are recorded for the
episode as the animations need to add the mouth movements to the characters whilst they
animate them. You can sometimes see when they have changed the lines of a character but
not the animation as the characters mouth movements dont match the words theyre
saying. This happens as they may not have enough time to go back
and edit that part of the animation. Once the animation is finished
and all of the sounds such as voice over and sound effects have
been added the animation can be rendered and published ready
for viewing on the television.

Distribution method
Television:
All of the Simpsons episodes are specifically produced for television so they
are appropriately censored so they dont contain anything that would be
inappropriate for television viewing. The rights to show certain episodes are
sold to certain television channels who then are allowed to show those
episodes as many times as they want. Since the Simpsons sells the episodes
to many different channels it allows them to make much more money off of a single episode
than if they only sold them to a specific channel in one country. In the Uk the only channel I
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know of that shows the Simpsons is Channel 4, the episodes are shown every day at 6 in the
evening. The reason theyre shown at this time is most people watch the Simpsons whilst
having their dinner. The only problem with showing an episode every day is that you often
get repeats from episodes that were played only a few weeks ago, this is the problem that
occurs until the channel buys the right to show newer episodes. For the channels which
show episodes on repeat through the year it allows them to make more money off of a
single episode through adverts than if they only showed it once, because of this the
channels are hesitant to purchase newer episodes as it means spending more money when
they already make lots of the old episodes.

Cinema:
None of the normal episodes of the Simpsons which you find on the television are shown in
the Cinema as they only last for around 25 minutes so wouldnt work very well in the
cinema. Also since you can watch them for free on the television there would be no point in
paying to watch it at the cinema. The Simpsons movie however was shown in the cinema for
several months when it first came out, but once it had died down in popularity cinemas
stopped showing it as they werent making as much money as they used to be. The
Simpsons movie was released on the 21st July 2007 after it was produced with a budget of
$75 million, the box office figures for the film say it grossed $527.9 million. The film follows
Homer Simpson whose irresponsibility gets the better of him when he pollutes the lake in
Springfield after the town cleans it up when they had received a warning from the
Environmental Protection Agency. As the townspeople exile him and eventually his family
abandons him, Homer works to redeem his folly by stopping Russ Cargill, the fictional head
of the EPA, when he intends to destroy Springfield by sealing it in a huge glass dome. If they
every made a Simpsons movie 2 then that would most likely also be released for the Cinema
before they sold the DVD for it. The reason the film was shown in the cinema first is they
could make more money that way than if they instantly released it as a purchasable DVD.

Radio:
There arent any audio episode for the Simpson as they are all produced as video, they do
contain audio though. There may be some audio books of certain Simpsons episode but they
arent produced by the original creators of the Simpsons if there are. Because of this there is
no radio shows which contain Simpsons episodes.

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Internet:
Because of how easy the internet can be accessed lots of
television shows are now allowing people to watch episodes over
the internet instead of television. This is done through something
called an IPlayer. Some channels such as ITV, Channel 4 and the
BBC all have their own websites where you can watch
programmes which have been previously shown on their channel.
Since Channel 4 has their own IPlayer you would have thought you can watch Simpsons
episodes on catch-up, but for some reason this is one of the programmes
which they dont have on their IPlayer. You can find the Simpsons movie
on the internet though through paying for it on something such as
Amazon where you can buy a HD copy of it for 3.95 or rent a HD copy of
the movie for 3.49. When you buy it off Amazon like this you dont get a
phsyical copy of the movie you simply get a digital download which is linked to your
account. There are also free movie websites where you can find the movie but I wont go
into detail about that as the Simpsons producers didnt give them permission to show it.

CD/DVD:
Because of the smaller storage capabilities than DVDs CDs are mostly used
for audio file storage since they use much less space than video files. The
only CDs of the Simpsons I could find were of singalongs such as The
Simpsons Sing The Blues. There are several other CDs just like this one
which are just audio track from certain Simpson episodes where the
characters sing a song. If the producers of the Simpsons released audio
episodes for the TV show then they could too be sold on a CD just like these
singalongs. There are lots of DVDs of the Simpsons though as the episodes can
be put onto DVDs and then sold since people are more likely to buy a video
DVD than just a CD with audio from the programme. On Amazon you can find
almost all of the seasons on DVD including the first season ever. These
DVDs include every episode produced for that season which is an
excellent way to watch through every Simpsons episode if someone
ever wanted to try that. Along with the different episodes and seasons
you can buy the Simpsons movie is also available on a DVD as this is a sort of special episode
since it was produced as a film. The film was released on DVD after it was first shown in
Cinemas.

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Ipod:
An Ipod is a portable device that can play digital audio files, for this reason it
is very unlikely that It will be used to play any of the Simpsons episodes
unless someone enjoys listening to the audio tracks. The producers of the
Simpsons dont produce any episode that are just audio as their main target
area is Television, however there are third party Simpsons audio tracks which
could be played on an Ipod such as the Simpson sing along tracks, or episodes which have
been turned into audio files. A person may enjoy listening to the episodes instead of
watching them If they travel a lot so dont have the time to watch the episodes as it would
mean they couldnt do anything else at the current time. But with an audio version of the
episode the person could be listening to it whilst doing something else such as traveling on
the train.

Mobile phones/devices:
Now that mobile devices such as tablets and phones have become so advanced you can
access the internet almost anywhere that you have a signal, because of this you can also
watch videos almost anywhere. Channel 4 which Is the channel that shows the Simpson in
the UK has its own mobile app where you can watch previous TV programmes that they
have shown, much like their internet IPlayer. Unfortunately, like I previously
discussed, Channel 4 doesnt have any of the Simpsons episodes on their
IPlayer so you wouldnt be able to watch any episodes via their mobile
application. You could however watch the episodes via YouTube, or you could
purchase a digital copy of an episode off Amazon and watch it that way as mobile devices
and tablets now allow you to do that. One of the benefits of being able to watch TV
episodes on a mobile device is you can watch them whenever you want and not at a certain
time of day like how theyre shown on the TV. If Channel 4 started to put the Simpsons
episodes on their IPlayer then it would make it much easier for the viewers to watch older
episodes rather than having to purchase them from a streaming website.

Home computer:
If you own a home computer then 95% of the time you will have
access to the internet through it as well, this means youll be able
to watch Simpsons episodes whenever you like due to the wide
range of services on the internet that allow you to watch past
and present episodes of the show. Some channels such as ITV,
Channel 4 and the BBC all have their own websites where you can
watch programmes which have been previously shown on their channel. Since Channel 4
has their own IPlayer you would have thought you can watch Simpsons episodes on catch-
up, but for some reason this is one of the programmes which they dont have on their

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IPlayer. You can find the Simpsons movie on the internet though through
paying for it on something such as Amazon where you can buy a HD copy
of it for 3.95 or rent a HD copy of the movie for 3.49. When you buy it
off Amazon like this you dont get a physical copy of the movie you simply
get a digital download which is linked to your account. There are also free
movie websites where you can find the movie but I wont go into detail about that as the
Simpsons producers didnt give them permission to show it.

Hand-held consoles:
Hand-held consoles refer to a gaming console, or device, which you can hold in your hands
and play game via. The most common and popular hand held consoles are the Nintendo DS
and PSVita. Several years ago the most popular hand held console was the GameBoy but
that has since died off with the release of more powerful devices. These gaming devices are
specifically designed for playing game which is why when you look at
them theyre covered in controls that work perfectly with the position
of your hands. Because of the ergonomic of the devices they arent the
most comfortable for watching videos with, along with this most of the time their software
doesnt support video playback over the internet through websites such as YouTube. Due to
all of these problems that occur when trying to watch Simpsons episodes on a hand-held
console its easier to just watch them via your mobile phone or table.

Genre 2

Generic codes and conventions


Content:
The Simpsons is rated as a 12 because some of its content could be upsetting for a younger
audience as it contains things such as the use of alcohol and subtle sexual references that
only older people are supposed to get. Homer could very well be the do not try this at
home poster boy for anything since he is often hurting himself by doing stupid stunts.
Heres the description of some of the content that gives it the age 12 rating from
commonsensemedia.org: 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. In most of
the episodes you will see Homer choking Bart by strangling him around
the throat, this could be seen as something you shouldnt show to a
younger child as they might think its acceptable for a parent to strangle
their child, it is played out though and is clearly done as a gag. Most of
the time when Homer does this he gets told off by Marge which also
shows that it is something you shouldnt do.
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Style:
The style of the Simpsons is to show a very exaggerated view of what the American family
life is like through their everyday life. Each episode has a different story which only lasts for
that episode as on the next episode theres a completely different story to be shown. With
some of their stories about the family traveling to different places such as to England, Japan
and Brazil they like to exaggerate stereotypes about that place and push the boundaries of
what they can get away with. The show was controversial from its beginning and has made
the news several times. In the early seasons some parents characterized Bart as a poor role
model for children and several United States public schools even
banned The Simpsons merchandise and t-shirts. In January 1992.
After these complaints the show toned itself down slightly but still
managed to get into trouble in 2002 when they were nearly sued
by the Rio de Janeiro tourist board for creating an unreal image of
the city on the show. As you can tell the style of the Simpsons is
to try and make fun of different cultures and stereotypes through the characters
interactions with certain places and people, unfortunately this sometimes ends up with the
show getting in trouble.

Symbolic:
Due to all of the different episodes of the Simpsons which each explore a different story
theres lots of things that people can take in their own way and develop their own opinions
on. Because of this the show sometimes has to be careful about what they are showing as
someone could interpret it as something else. All of the characters in the Simpsons
symbolise a different personality that you might get within a family, Homer is the dad of the
family who works to provide for them. Unfortunately hes presented as someone that is
rather dumb and has a small drinking problem, showing that even Dads that provide for
their family can have flaws. Marge is a housewife who doesnt work and just looks after the
kids whilst Homer is at work. This is the typical thing for a wife to be doing but with more
recent years women have started taking the main role of providing for
the family. Bart is the stupid kid of the family who is always getting
into trouble either at home or at school, Lisa on the other hand is the
total opposite of Bart and is seen as the perfect child that any parent
wishes for. Maggie is just a baby who shows that you can live in a
family like theirs and still be innocent.

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Cultural:
The Simpsons family are seen as typical white Americans, along with the
majority of the other characters. There are several different characters in the
show though who come from different cultures and support certain cultural
activities. Apu is one of the two Indian character in the Simpsons, along with
his wife and eight children. The Apu character is seen as the typical
working Indian in America since he owns his own shop which Is called
the Kwik-e-Mart. The cultural reference which is made with Apu and
his family is that Indian people always have large families, which is
indicated through them having eight children. Apart from this theres
not much else to do with their family that links in with their culture as they arent one of the
main character. Another cultural reference that links in with American
is that everyone goes to a typical church, in the case of the Simpsons
its the First church of Springfield. The reason this is included in the
Simpsons is that most families in American go to church on a Sunday
as its seen as the right thing to do. This is indicated through the Simpsons family as none
of them are really religious, especially Homer who always falls asleep during church.
Grounds keeper Willie is the only Scottish character in the show and
because of that hes used for all of the cultural references about
Scotland. Having this diverse range of characters means the show
appeals to more than just an American audience as other people feel
a part of it.

Technical:
The Simpsons show is create via computer animation. Even though
the show is now over 20 years old the look of the show has
changed only slightly, mainly through the refining of characters and
the improvement of lighting. The characters on the left are the
most recent version of the characters, as you can see they look very clean and have smooth
edges. On the right are the first versions of the character which have rougher edges and less
realistic body proportions. Along with the characters the scenery of the show has improved
dramatically as well with brighter colours and cleaner edges with the improvement of
animation software. All of the shots on the Simpsons are done as if the camera was on a
tripod and not moving, this is because its much easier to animate this way as you dont
have to think about how characters are going to look when the camera moves. Instead they
just use jump cuts to different camera angles if they need to show a different perspective. In
more recent seasons the show has started to use more advanced camera techniques where
the camera movies into the shot, these arent used in every episode
though as they require more work to produce and only work well in
certain situations. Despite how simple the animations can look the
lighting is relatively well done, the shadows are simply streight lines

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and dont have any gradient to them but this matches the style of the programme. You can
see in this picture how the shadows and lighting are done.

Changes over time


Audience:
As the Simpsons has been running for over 20 years now there will obviously be some
changes in the audience that watches as people that used to watch them would have grown
up and might not have time to watch anymore. Other people might have stopped watching
as they didnt like how the show changed, this is one of the main reason behind the change
in audience though since people say the show has been going downhill from around season
7 as the creators started to run out of ideas. For channels like Channel 4 that show the
programme at a set time during the day their audience figure usually stay around the same
as watching the Simpsons becomes part of their daily routine, with the number of repeats
that are being shown though the numbers may begin to drop as people get fed up of
watching the same episodes several times a month. Even though the show is a cartoon
there are still lots of adults that watch the programme as its a cartoon aimed at an older
audience than what most cartoons are. With it being shown on the television relatively early
at night theres still lots of younger people that may watch the show with their parents, this
wouldnt have been the case when the show first came out as not everyone had a television
so you would be very lucky to see the programme as a child.

Ideological shifts:
Because of the 20+ years of screening that the Simpsons has had there would have been
many changes in whats acceptable to talk about or make jokes about that would have
changes parts of the show. You wont find any terrorist acts in Simpsons episodes since that
is something that is seen as very serious and not a topic that should be made fun of or
referenced in a cartoon. One of the programmes more controversial episodes is Homers
Phobia. This episode revolved around Homer distancing himself from a new friend John
after Homer finds out hes gay. Homer is also worried about Johns influence on Bart, so
Homer takes Bart hunting to ensure his masculinity. The episode is highly praised and
considered one of the shows best episodes. Its praised for dealing with misconceptions of
homosexuality and still maintaining the series sense of humour. This episode was released
in 1997, but if it was released today then I think it would have a huge uproar as people are
very sensitive about this topic now.

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Re-definition:
This refers to how something has been re-thought up and changed. Around early to mid
1993 the Simpsons went through a huge change. Homer became dumber and more
careless. Bart became more fearless and strong, like in The Simpsons Movie Bart laughed as
he fell off the roof and hung by the gutters. Lisa and Bart began fighting less in "Lisa the
Beauty Queen" when she joined that Little Miss Springfield pageant. Marge's voice began to
change in Season 2 like in the episode "Simpson and Delilah". Other characters have also
changed. Apu was more stern but quickly changed in "Krusty Gets Busted", when he says,
"Okay, okay. I know the procedure for armed robbery. I have been robbed many, many
times." And Krusty himself changed and from Season 1 on, "The Telltale
Head", his voice was much different and very deep. All of these changes
show how the show has developed over the years as it has gone through
different writers and voice actors. The show has gone through many writers
and as a result has had lots of different writing styles over the years which all
result in a slight change to the show.

Obsolescence:
This is where something or someone becomes obsolete meaning they arent needed
anymore or fall out of fashion meaning they lose popularity. You could say the Simpsons has
started to become obsolete as the writers have ran out of ideas and the episodes become
dull, people say the way to revitalise the Simpsons would be to bring back the writers from
the shows heyday but they still might be out of ideas. Thats the problem you get when you
have over 600 episodes that each have their own individual story, you begin to run out of
interesting ideas that stand out from all of the others episodes. Certain people are saying
that they should cancel the Simpsons to put it out of its misery as they dont want to see
such an iconic show go down in a pile of rubbish. To help bring fresh ideas to the show the
producers could start accepting fan made storylines as they might have a different way of
thinking than the hired writers.

Spoof/Parody:
A spoof, or parody, is a humorous imitation of something, most commonly a film. This is
done through exaggeration of certain characteristics or features of the film. The Simpsons
has had many parody episodes due to it being a humorous cartoon. The Simpsons
wonderful movie parodies have been fan favourites since the beginning. The Simpsons have
made lots of Batman references through their different seasons: The first major one came in
season 4, Episode 7 Last Exit to Springfield. Lisa has to go to the
dentist where it turns out that she needs braces. The reveal of her
new teeth mirrors Jack Nicholsons Joker (from Tim Burtons
Batman) as he sees his new face for the first time. Homers turn as

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The Pie Man has some decidedly Gotham-esque qualities, like the signal in the sky. But
Mr. Burnss Fruit Bat Man came even closer to the Dark Knight that we know and love.
The Simpsons ability to make short parody sketches of almost any film they want is one of
their iconic features and always keeps the episodes interesting as you look out for any
movie references.

Pastiche:
A pastiche is a copy of a genre which is usually done respectfully but sometimes can be used
as an inferior was of exploiting other peoples good ideas without giving full credit to the
source. In cinematography pastiche is where a film maker uses the same style, lighting and
camera angles as another film maker that they admire. Pastiche is used throughout The
Simpsons, as not only does it show intertextual references it often imitates a well-known
scene putting a humorous spin on it. In this episode rather than imitating a whole scene, it
simply abstracts iconic elements from it; for example in Back To
The Future Marty was considered a washed up rock star as he
could no longer play in his band due to injury, in Bart To The
Future, Bart was also considered a washed up rock star. Both
characters saw their future to be a somewhat failure, for during
the scenes they re-lived, Bart got evicted and Marty was fired.

Narrative structures
Single strand:
A single strand narrative is when one story is told from start to finish. There is usually a
particular point or moral that the producer is trying to make, or get the audience to engage
with. Most single strand fiction narratives follow a set format of equilibrium > disruption >
equilibrium. This means that the story opens with everything as it normally is, then
something happens which gets resolved and then everything ends up back to normal. The
Simpsons uses this single strand narrative structure for its episodes as stories are individual
to each episode and dont carry over like you see with most TV programmes. The advantage
of using this technique is the stories they come up with can be very brief and dont have to
be detailed enough to span several episodes, instead they just have to
make the story last around 25 minutes. Another advantage of having
stories that only last a single episode is you can play the episodes in any
order and not have to worry about only showing half of a story.

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Multi-strand:
Multi-strand narratives tell two or more stories alongside each other. These stories can be
completely different but also may link together in certain way, each hinting clues at what
the end of the story will be. The Simpsons doesnt use multi-strand narrative as since the
episodes are so short it would be difficult to tell two or more different stories all at the same
time without confusing the viewer with whats happening. Even on the Simpsons movie
which was almost an hour and a half long It still used the single strand narrative as thats
what the viewers are most used to and can easily follow. Also the
writers are only used to writing these single strand episodes so if
they were asked to write multiple stories that all linked into one
then it might not have been a very good movie.

Closed:
A closed narrative means that the story starts in a certain place and will be resolved at the
end giving the impression that there is nothing more to add to the story and that everything
has been resolved. This is the more common narrative used in films and TV programmes
such as the Simpsons as viewers always want an answers and dont want to be left with
questions that are unanswered as they may feel they have wasted their time watching the
whole movie to not even be given a full conclusion. All of the Simpsons episodes use a
closed narrative as it allows every story to have a complete ending
where the viewer isnt left asking questions. Even the Simpsons
movie follows this closed Narrative as Im sure they didnt plan on
making a second Simpsons movie where they continued to the story
and then finished with a closed narrative.

Open:
An open narrative does not clearly have a definitive beginning or end so it mostly used in
programmes such as soaps where theres a continuous story that has lots of different
endings and beginning that all add to the main storyline. The advantage of using an open
narrative for a programme such as a soap is it allows the writes to end episodes on cliff
hangers if they wanted to, this is to encourage the viewer to come back and watch the next
episode as they will want to know what happens. There is never usually a complete ending
to an open narrative as the producers keep adding to it as well as ending
certain aspects of it. The Simpsons doesnt use an open narrative as like I
previously stated they keep stories to the length of each episode so they
dont leave viewers on a cliff hanger.

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Linear:
Linear narratives are simplistic meaning you could draw a straight line from the beginning to
the end of a story by following a clear list of events that all end up leading to the end. These
narratives start the story at the beginning and tell consecutive events that all lead up to the
end of the story. Linear narrative are the easiest to follow as everything always leads to the
end and there arent any side story that might distract the viewer from the main storyline.
Films often put small side stories alongside the main storyline to add more depth to the film
and also to lengthen it if the main storyline isnt long enough. The Simpsons uses this linear
narrative for all of their episodes, including the film as it is the easiest to follow, and since
their audience is around 10+ a story that is easy to follow is best. One of the amazing things
about the Simpsons is you can watch the start of an episode, miss five minutes
and still understand whats happening since the story lines are so simplistic.
Even the Simpsons movie which is an hour and a half long uses a Linear
narrative because the creators just wanted to create a movie that was a special
episode which lasted three times as long.

Non-linear:
Non-linear is the opposite to linear in that the storyline isnt a straight line, it goes in several
different directions which all have their own side stories, a Non-linear narrative is more
difficult to understand and follow. In this type of narrative events are portrayed out of
chronological order or in other ways where the narrative does not follow the direct pattern
of the events featured, such as parallel distinctive plot lines, dream immersions or narrating
another story inside the main plot-line. This technique is often used to mimic the structure
and recall of human memory, but has been applied for other reasons as well. The Simpsons
uses nothing like this as it has always used the more simplistic linear narrative which is
easier to write, along with follow.

Alternative narrative:
There are two different types of alternative narrative, realistic and formalist. A realistic
narrative is one that tries to be as realistic as possible so the viewer feels immersed in the
story and may even believe its true. These types of narrative are used in programmes such
as soaps where the producers try to represent the characters and story in a realistic way
through the story and the way the characters reach to certain situation and events. The
other alternative narrative is formalist. Unlike Realistic Narrative, Formalist Narratives
generally make it very clear to audiences that they are watching a made-up story which the
director can play with in any way they like. They tend to use the narrative structure to
highlight themes the director feels are important by stylizing, exaggerating, or distorting
particular elements in ways that convey the artificiality of the film experience. Since the
Simpsons is a cartoon it uses formalist narratives as it over exaggerates certain aspects of

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the programme to make it more funny, you also wouldnt be able to


perform some of the tricks and stunts that they do in the Simpsons if it was
filmed in real life and not made using computer animation.

Enigma:
An enigma, also known as a puzzle, is a technique often used in narrative to create a sort of
riddle that the reader or viewer has to figure out by them decoding it. An enigma in a
programme such as the Simpsons could be something as simple as one of the characters
saying something and then the viewer has to try and figure out what they meant by it, or it
could be something more complicated that is played out through the whole episode.
Producers often add these enigmas into a programme to keep the viewer focused on the
screen so they dont miss a clue which could help them figure out
what this puzzle is. One of the running puzzles in the introduction
of the Simpsons is trying to figure out what the number says on the
checkout when Maggie is scanned. It goes by very fast if youre
watching the programme so the only way to see it is to tape the
programme and then try and pause it on the correct frame. Small things like this can make
something as simple as a programme intro interesting as youre constantly looking for little
Easter eggs that can be solved.

Climax:
The climax or turning point of a narrative work is its point of highest
tension and drama or it is the time when the action starts during which
the solution is given. The climax often occurs nearer the end of a film or
programme as they want to build tension all the way through to keep
the viewer interested in what happens at the end. For a programme such as a soap where
the storyline is constantly evolving there may be several different climaxes that happen in
one episode or through several, this is because smaller side stories may come to an end and
get resolved. In the Simpsons since the episodes are all their individual stories near the end
of each episode there will be a climax of the story where the viewer finds out what is going
to happen at the end. In the Simpsons movie the climax or turning point was when Homer
had to throw a bomb out of the top of the huge dome which was surrounding their town. To
do this he had to ride up the inside of the dome on a
motorcycle whilst carrying the bomb. All of the tension builds
up until he throws the bomb out of the hole at the top of the
huge glass dome. The moment is the climax of the movie.

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Equilibrium:
Equilibrium is just another way of saying how something is equal, for example if a
programme has a balance between being funny and serious then you would say it is at
equilibrium. When producing a programme such as the Simpsons where it is supposed to be
comedic you dont want to try and make everything in the programme funny as it would
lose its meaning, instead you want to catch the viewer off guard with a funny line or scene
which is exactly what they do. Other aspects of the narrative that are important to keep
balanced are cultural references and jokes, if you have too many jokes about a certain
culture then you may end up offending people because they feel like they are being
targeted. If you make fun of everybody though then people cant
say youre focusing on them as everyone else is having the equal
number of things said about them. The Simpson is very good at
having an equal narrative which is why it has been around for over
20 years and is still popular today.

Representation
Negative:
There are lots of characters in the Simpsons who have a negative side, but these are the
characters who are represented in the most negative way compared to the others.
Homer is seen as a sort of negative character because of his drinking problem with
beer, the fact he constantly strangles his son, and his lack of intelligence. Even
though he is a nice character who looks after his family he has some strong negative
to go along with the positives.
Bart is also a negative family member of the Simpsons since he is always getting
into trouble either at school or at home. He is well known for carrying his
slingshot around in his back pocket, along with pulling pranks on the school. Bart
is also the less intelligent out of the two children which could also be seen as
something negative since he is older than his sister, yet she is much smarter.
Barnie is the town drunk who is always at Moes with Homer and his other friends.
Most of the time we see Barnie he is drunk. Despite him being a nice character
who tries to take care of his friends I would say he is a negative character simply
because of his heavy drinking problem which is what hes most known for.
Fat Tony is the mob boss of the town so is definitely one of the negative characters.
He is presented as intimidating and someone that you dont want to get involved
with as they will try and manipulate you.

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Positive:
The Simpsons also has its fair share of positive characters who try and balance out the
negative ones. Here are the most popular positive character:
Lisa is seen as the good girl of the Simpson family because of he amazing
intelligence and friendly personality. Despite her brother always being horrible she
tries to be nice to him, along with the other members of the family. Even though
she is younger than Bart the way she acts makes it seem like the other way around.
Marge is Homers wife so has to try her best to keep him in line, even though that
can be difficult sometimes she stays calm. Marge is the one who looks after the
kids the most whilst Homer is at work, because of she is seen as the more positive
out of the two parents as she is a better influence on them.
Apu is the owner of the kwik-e-mart which is the local shop where most people go
shopping. Apus character is very positive and always tries to look at the bright side,
which can be difficult when you have eight babies to look after. Apu is often robbed
by a character named Snake but still keeps the shop open after all of this bad luck.
Ned Flanders is probably the most positive and friendly character on the Simpsons
which can be annoying at times because of how friendly he is, this is what annoys
Homer because he cant handle how perfect Ned is. We dont know what job Ned
has as were never told, all we do know is hes a very strong Christian.

Social groups:
In a show such as the Simpsons where theres a whole town of different people who can
appear in an episode theres obviously going to be lots of different social groups that the
producers could come up with. These are some of the more common social groups that
appear in the majority of the episodes:
The drinkers. These are the people you always see in Moes bar, they
mostly hang out together since they are all drinkers. Some characters
we only get to see in Moes whilst other such as Homer Lennie and
Karl make appearances outside of the bar.
The bullies are one of the better known social groups in the
Simpsons since they make an appearance in the majority of
episodes, either inside the school grounds or out. The four members
that make up the group are all around the same age but are led by
the main bully called Nelson. The producers of the Simpsons have
poked fun at real bullies through the characters as Nelson lives in a trailer with his mom and
all of the other bullies are in similar situations. Theres also an episode where they say that
they bully people because theyre thick so try to make themselves look better by beating
other people up, again making fun of real bullies.

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A third social group you find in the Simpsons in the police officers.
These three characters are the people who make up the Springfield
police department, and are run by police chief Wiggum. Despite
being the chief, Wiggum is presented as the dumber of the three
and is constantly corrected by his co-workers for his silly remarks. Im not sure if the way the
chief Wiggum character comes across is to poke fun at certain police officers or was just
made that way to add some humour to the police force.

Social issues:
A programme such as the Simpsons which has a new storyline for each episode can use new
social issues for some of its latest ideas as they can have their own say on them without it
affecting anything since everything goes back to normal at the end of each episode. Some of
the social issues which the Simpsons has covered are gun rights and homosexuality. The
episode which brings up gun rights was named The cartridge family, during this episode
Homer purchases a gun to protect his family, of which Marge
disapproves. Homer begins to show extremely careless gun usage
causing Marge to leave him when she catches Bart using the gun
without their permission. The episode was intended to show guns in a
neutral way, and faced some problems with the censors because of
the subject matter. One of the episode which looks at homosexuality and the feeling
surrounding it is titles Homers phobia. This episode revolved around Homer distancing
himself from a new friend John after Homer finds out hes gay. Homer is also worried about
Johns influence on Bart, so Homer takes Bart hunting to ensure his masculinity. The episode
is highly praised and considered one of the shows best episodes. Its praised for dealing
with misconceptions of homosexuality and still maintaining the series sense of humour. The
Simpsons ability to look at social issues and the situation surrounding that topic is well done
as it always provides both sides of the argument so they keep the cartoon as neutral as
possible.

Stereotyping:
The Simpsons isnt best known for its stereotyping of individual but it does do
it sometimes, for example the Kwik-e-mart owner Apu is a typical stereotype
of an Indian man living in the US. Apu is one of the two Indian character in the
Simpsons, along with his wife and eight children. The Apu character is seen as
the typical working Indian in America since he owns his own shop
which Is called the Kwik-e-Mart. The stereotype which is made with
Apu and his family is that Indian people always have large families,
which is indicated through them having eight children. Theres also a
stereotype that Indian people own small shops such as Apus. In an
episode where the family goes to brazil entitled "Blame it on Lisa" the family embarked

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on an adventure to Brazil, highlighting a mess of stereotypes that earned them a real-life


chiding from then-President Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Among the comments and antics
that landed the family in hot water was Lisas claim that the brightly coloured slums of Rio
de Janeiro were painted that way by the government so that tourists wouldnt be
offended. The episode also portrayed Brazilian street children as thieves, described the
countrys pink and purple currency as gay, and culminated in Homer
being kidnapped and held for ransom by his taxi driver. The ironic
humour of a stereotypical American family poking fun at another
country's gross stereotypes was lost on Brazilian media which rushed
to condemn the show and even threatened to sue them.

Presence and absence:


For a television show like the Simpsons which has lots of different characters it would be
impossible for them to put every character In every episode, and even more difficult to try
and fit them all into the storyline. Instead for each episode certain characters make an
appearance when its their time to take part in the story. One of the advantages of having a
large range of characters is when the writers are coming up with a storyline they wont have
to come up with a new character to fit a certain role as they most likely already
exist. Characters such as these two who were featured in the episode where
the family visited Brazil were made up just for that episode and might not be
used again. But if they ever visit Brazil again then the writers will be able to re-
uses the characters. The main characters that you see in every Simpsons episode are Homer,
Marge, Bart and Lisa. These characters appear in every episode where as other characters in
the show dont. The reason these characters get the most screen time is because the show
is about them, and all of the other characters just make it more interesting by interacting
with the main characters in different situations. Certain characters may not appear in
several episodes through a season, but that doesnt mean they have been killed off. Here
are some of the characters which have been killed off from the Simpsons and will most likely
never come back:
Maude Flanders was killed off in an episodes titled "Alone Again, Natura-
Diddily". After staring in the show since the start Maude was killed off to bring
a change to the main characters, it also allowed the producers to change how
Ned Flanders character acted because of the death of his wife. This character
was killed off after she fell off the back of a stadium, she wont be appearing back on any
episodes since her character was killed and didnt simply leave.
Frank Grimes was featured in only one episode of the Simpsons, "Homer's
Enemy" where he became jealous of Homer because he was successful despite
being a complete idiot. Frank died trying to prove a point about Homer's
incompetence after pretending to be Homer and grabbing onto some electrical
cables. This character hasnt returned to the show yet his son did appear in an
episode to try and avenge his father.

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