Mike Scully’s “The Simpsons”: When everything went wrong

Most people agree that The Simpsons started to go downhill after Mike Scully took after. Ten years ago, I wouldn’t think that way at all, probably because I wasn’t clever enough to notice that when I was a ten-year-old boy. When I was a kid, I enjoyed The Simpsons no matter what season it was in. Today, every time I watch a Simpsons episode from Mike Scully’s tenure as showrunner, it’s gotten harder and harder to deny that under Mike Scully, one of the greatest TV shows of all time had begun to degenerate into everyday trash.

the simpsons

It may as well just be any other sitcom if it were just a cartoon.

In my opinion, no TV show should ever last more than at least six seasons. For me, The Simpsons’ golden years were over after season 9 ended, but evidently Mike Scully didn’t see it that way. Rather than keep the show as a clever alternative to the mainstream trash that was on TV, Scully went about turning it into another brand of mainstream trash to be eaten up be middle America.

To be fair, season 9 was still really good. In fact, it was the last of the classic seasons, despite some dumber moments. By season 10, however, Mike Scully had turned the show into just another cartoon. It even looked different to season 9. From here on out, the show becomes just another cartoon, complete with exaggerated personalities, cheesy dialogue, and nonsensical premises.

What’s really interesting is that the seasons under Mike Scully tend to centre around jerkass Homer. The problem here is that Homer is a guy who’s not only stuck in the 70’s, but he’s also a complete slave to the perceptions given to him by TV and movie stereotypes. In “Kill the Alligator and Run”, he tries to jam in the same crowd as a Kid Rock concert. When he takes the stage, he sings the god-awful “We Built This City”. Then again, he’s the same person who’d ask Bachman-Turner Overdrive to play “Taking Care of Business”, then skip to the “working overtime” lyric.

Another problem is that jerkass Homer reigns supreme here, but even with that, Lisa is still given special status here, even though by now she’s become a preachy know-it-all who’s never happy unless everyone does things her way.

All the other characters got royally screwed during Mike Scully’s tenure. In the old days, Marge was simply a level-headed parent who detested violence. By the end of Mike Scully’s tenure, she had become a nagging wet blanket who can only exist in a bland environment with no surprises whatsoever, believing only what she’s told.

In the past, Bart was simply a troubled kid whose misdemeanours were the result of Homer’s negligent parenting. By the time Mike Scully was done with him, he became nothing more than a dumb, attention-seeking prankster whose antics has no meaning, and I don’t think the ADD theory posited by “Brother’s Litter Helper” makes a shred of sense.

brother's little helper

Then again, does this make sense?

During the Mike Scully years, Mr. Burns’ character had been reduced to the kind of cartoon supervillain that Smithers predicted he would be in the beginning of Season 7. In season 10, he decides that he would rather be hated just because there’s no effort to it, and in season 12, he makes Homer to a bunch of degrading pranks (which including posing as a female panda) in return for money, and when Homer doesn’t want to do it anymore, he tries to coerce him with money. However, he doesn’t really do that much in those seasons. There are plenty of other cartoonishly cliché villains, and each new one that gets introduced keeps sucking harder and harder.

The big problem with Scully’s episodes is that they leave very little to the imagination. Everything’s put in front of you, as though the show is now meant for children. To be fair, some of these episodes are still funny, and they’re definitely better than all the newer episodes, but under Mike Scully’s tenure, the show became so dumb and formulaic that it has become a facet of the low-brow culture that it sought to mock.

In 2007, Mike Scully onced jokingly said “lower your quality standards. Once you’ve done that you can go on forever.”

If that’s Mike Scully’s lesson, then it’s a horrible one. I’m guessing that’s the solution the writers preferred, because after Al Jean became the showrunner in season 13, the show became even worse than ever, to the point that it eventually became the noisy, unwatchable corpse that it is today.

In conclusion, the Simpsons should have retired after season 9. The worst part is that the writers and the producers didn’t even try to fix the mess that Mike Scully made, as though they knew it was too late to undo the damage. As a result, we have a show whose writers and producers are unwilling to see that the show has past its prime, and are thus unwilling to pass the torch to a new generation.

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