In the Halloween spirit, I’ve decided to turn my gaze at what has become an annual tradition – The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror specials. In the older seasons, they’re the one time where the Simpsons universe gets to reject reality in the spirit of sending up various horror clichés and films. As the series wore on, however, the actual show began to lose touch with reality, becoming yet another cartoon, and in the same manner, the Treehouse of Horror specials became even more redundant.
Treehouse of Horror episodes are usually there just for fun, which means that the writing does take a bit of a backseat (except for the first Treehouse of Horror, which was brilliant). From season 10 onwards, however, the Treehouse of Horror special would simply get cheesier, with paper-thin writing and humour that derives mainly from how absurd it all is.
Some of the segments are better than actual newer Simpsons episodes, but I can’t help but think that nowadays, the Treehouse of Horror special has basically become an excuse for random violence and gory moments that would be unacceptable anywhere else. And some segments are written so poorly that it seems as though they weren’t even trying anymore. One in particular, “Heck House”, attempts to poke fun at hell houses, but the writing was so terrible that it almost seems as though they’re agreeing with the hell houses in question.
Suffice it to say, the Treehouse of Horror specials got old almost as quickly as the actual show, perhaps because the writers simply can’t put as much effort into writing three Halloween shorts every year, which isn’t exactly surprising considering how long the show has run. The only effort they put into them is how they look, and the newer Treehouse of Horror specials seem like they’re trying to shock audiences for its own sake, and it doesn’t even work.
Thankfully, these episodes are outside the normal canon of The Simpsons, so the story isn’t completely a concern, but they still get old in the same way the real episodes get old, because the same old writing style is used over and over again, and after a while, it stops working. The last great Treehouse of Horror episode was Treehouse of Horror VIII (which had one of my favourite segments – “The Homega Man”). After that, they all sort of went stale, and the fact that we treat Halloween as something that’s “just for kids” doesn’t help much either.
It’s getting late, so I may as well wrap things up on a lighter note.