Zombie Simpsons Lives In Brentwood, Thinks Everyone Else Does Too

Chalkboard - The Food Wife

“Look everybody, my purse exploded!” – Marge Simpson
“Come on everybody, we’re going to the fanciest restaurant in town!” – Homer Simpson

There once was a show called The Simpsons.  It was about an upper-lower-middle class family that lived in small town Anywhere, USA.  That family wasn’t quite poor, but they could only barely make ends meet.  Their city wasn’t a thriving metropolis, it was another beat up burgh whose past was brighter than its future.  Part of what made the show so searingly funny was the way it took unpleasant realities like staving off poverty and living in America’s worst city and made them jokes.  The bleakness of the Simpsons’ life was an integral part of not just the setting and the stories, but of the show’s entire outlook on life. 

None of that is true on Zombie Simpsons.  There’s a rainbow at the end of everything and the streets are paved with gold.  The Simpson family is now so prosperous that they have three laptops, go on expensive outings, and eat at nice restaurants every night of the week.  Springfield itself is filled with trendy eateries and the well fed yuppies who love them.  The whole thing is all but unrecognizable to anyone who hasn’t spent time in or around the posh sections of Los Angeles.  Even the meth labs are nice.

That cozy, upper-upper-middle class sensibility is a big reason why Zombie Simpsons is so punchless, even when they set their sights on a fat target like celebrity chefs and food fads.  Instead of skewering something, they hold it up for the gentlest of ribbings.  Instead of making fun of pompous celebrities, they invite them on the show to be feted in yellow.  “The Food Wife” was less a satire of foodie culture than an advertisement for it. 

Of course the episode was also shot through with the usual list of Zombie Simpsons problems.  People acting wildly out of character (when did Bart and Lisa become the same person?), scenes that make no sense (why don’t you strangers join us for dinner?), teleporting characters (wasn’t Wiggum inside before Marge got there?), and a story so thinly conceived that they needed to have Marge exposit how she was feeling no fewer than half a dozen times. 

As if to underscore how weak Zombie Simpsons has become, the episode’s lone standout was a song written for them by Adult Swim darlings Tim and Eric.  And while they had a few video game ideas that rose to the level of cute, most of the episode was a mash note to the perks of living relatively high on the hog. 

Anyway, the numbers are in and they are rotten and stale.  Just 7.53 million viewers wondered why they weren’t watching the Food Channel last night.  That’s down about half a million people from last week and keeps Season 23 well on track to be the lowest rated ever.  It’s almost like celebrity chefs only appeal to a narrow slice of people.  Fancy that. 

32 Responses to “Zombie Simpsons Lives In Brentwood, Thinks Everyone Else Does Too”

  1. 1 Yodelin' Zeke
    14 November 2011 at 2:07 pm

    THANK YOU. I’ve read this blog for a long time but never posted, and I have to break my silence to agree with you. You really got to the heart of why this episode bugged me so much. How could they afford to eat at fancy restaurants every night, and why does Springfield have so many upscale restaurants in the first place? I also come from an “upper-lower-middle-class” (as the REAL Simpsons so brilliantly put it) household from a dying Midwestern industrial town, and a big part of the show’s appeal was its brilliant handling of that sort of lifestyle (even if most of the writers were Harvard grads).

    The two things that pissed me off most were the fact, as you mentioned, that the Simpsons now suddenly have three laptops (seriously, WTF? I thought for sure when they were stacking the laptops on top of each other that they were building to some sort of joke, but no, instead we get Homer crawling upstairs while bawling for some reason), and the fact that Homer can now build shit for no reason. One of my favorite running gags about Homer from the early years was Homer’s complete lack of handiness, which reminded me of my own dad. Now somehow he can build dozens of perfect baseball bats and a birdhouse for no other reason than to service an unfunny throwaway joke.

    Yeah, I’ve often been an apologist for Zombie Simpsons in the past, but not anymore.

  2. 14 November 2011 at 2:09 pm

    I’m surprised with the way ZS calls things: “Funtendo Zii” or myPod, I’m surprised they didn’t refer to Tim and Eric as Jim and Derick.

  3. 8 Stan
    14 November 2011 at 2:17 pm

    I had nothing against the laptop stacking joke. It didn’t require resolution, just having laptops stack on each other for a family like the Simpsons is actually a satire of how every effin family in the US now has at least one laptop, as to how cheap the tech has become.

    On the other hand, restaurant life is as believable as Homer going on a tour with Cheech and Chong all of a sudden. I mean logically no, it doesn’t make sense. But they have to start somewhere, and if it wasn’t for the mechanical understanding of the plot, I certainly believe they could’ve started it with the family winning a shitload of cash at the E4, as to make sense how they can afford restaurants Kent Brockman has to choose a booking for.

    In all, I stand by what I wrote earlier – this episode is good for their level, the Season premiere was much worse for example.

    P.S. Springfield didn’t have a beach either, that didn’t stop them from making “The Squirt and The Whale” a couple years ago.

    • 15 November 2011 at 3:29 am

      What about in “Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Badassssssssss Song”? They’re seemingly on the beach there at one point.

      Otherwise, I agree with your points, and I also want to say something that will probably get backlash, but eh… this season, every episode of the Simpsons has been better than the one before it (not counting Treehouse, which was down there with the worst episodes of the Simpsons EVER), in my opinion. I mean, none have been “Good” but yeah. Nothing has really even been as bad as last season yet. Hmm.

  4. 10 Thrillho
    14 November 2011 at 2:26 pm

    I put this in the cateogry of “Decent…for Zombie Simpsons.” There are still glaring flaws, and it doesn’t hold a chance against the golden era Simpsons, but I thought there enough good jokes (The Human Centipede video game seems like the kind of idea the show would have come up with in the ’90s, only I think they would have added a few more jokes to that) and a reasonable enough pace to save it from being completely terrible. I wouldn’t be surprised if this ends up as the seaon’s highlight, which does really show how far things have fallen.

    One thing I hope you’ll address is how lazy their product parodies have gotten. Gamestation 3? Ooh, take that, Sony!

    • 14 November 2011 at 5:16 pm

      Sadly there actually is a modern update of Centipede called Human Centipede…so they may have intended it as a joke, but someone beat them to the same concept and name by at least a year.

  5. 12 Mr. Snrub
    14 November 2011 at 4:54 pm

    Will you please stop calling the show Zombie Simpsons? I agree with pretty much what you said but that stupid childish name actually makes me want to disagree.

  6. 18 Phil
    14 November 2011 at 5:17 pm

    So glad you liked the song. I was dreading having to defend it in later comments sections.

  7. 19 Mr. Incognito
    14 November 2011 at 6:56 pm

    Looks like everyone in Springfield has a copy of Frink’s teleporting machines nowadays. What a day and age they live in!

    • 15 November 2011 at 3:55 am

      The funny halves of all the characters must’ve been beamed somewhere else, leaving the corny side of the characters in Springfield. (Like that episode of Star Trek where there were 2 Kirks.)

  8. 21 Patrick
    14 November 2011 at 10:01 pm

    The beauty of The proper Simpons is that it wasn’t set in any state so they could make fun of the whole of the 48 states at once :D and also do you want to know how awesome the satire and the everything else of the old simpsons was… I’ll tell you, the legend of stand-up Bill Hicks (strong tv-hater) loved it, THAT’S HOW GOOD IT WAS and he even said he wanted to live in Springfield, one can only wonder what he would say about it now (and the world today as well for that matter)

    • 15 November 2011 at 3:25 am

      Everytime I see Bill Hicks mentioned anymore, I am overwhelmed with happiness (and sadness, too, that he isn’t around to comment on how fucked up the world is). Truely the best “comedian” ever and a total genius.

      “They proved that if you quit smoking, it will prolong your life. What they haven’t proved is that a prolonged life is a good thing. I haven’t seen the stats on that yet.”

  9. 15 November 2011 at 3:20 am

    While I usually agree point-for-point, I come from a town that is similiar to Springfield and have probably the same sorta living situation as the Simpsons, financially, and we have 3 laptops. You can get a DECENT laptop for around $350 now. I mean, maybe The Simpsons’s laptops were all used, maybe they were older… I know one was a Mac (Lisa’s, right? Figures…) which you know… costs more. Heheh. But yeah. I know plenty of people way poorer than me (and I’m pretty poor!), who have laptops… I know a girl in debt out her ears who has 2 nice laptops (maybe that’s why she’s so in debt!). Even if laptops — seemingly an essential part of living, to many people — can be deemed just a luxury item and seem unaffordable, The Simpsons spending past their capabilities is not shocking and is actually sorta funny and goes with the spirit of the show. Maybe the laptops were stolen from Flanders?…. would the joke have worked if each one said “property of Ned [or] Rod [or] Tod [or, sure, MAUDE]” on it? Well, I guess at least there would have BEEN a joke, but eh.

    …Granted, a part of my soul dies each time I see the Simpsons using new technology and talking about “Blogging” and whatever, but to me it just represents the cold faceless stale boring lifeless thoughtless formless clinical cultural vaccuum we all exist in, anyway (irony alert: POSTING THIS VIA A SONY VAIO LAPTOP — NOT FROM A PHONE THOUGH, WHOO — ONTO A BLOGGGG USING DSL!).

    …Anyway, despite my town being relatively poor and run-down and low populated, there are still “nice” (see: super-clean, “only-rich-people-eat-there”) restauraunts here. This kinda goes with the above point, but many towns seem to spend beyond their means… this town has a ton of ugly ass million-dollar-plus sculptures all around town because at some point someone called us an “art town”. I mean, I agree that the Springfield of old would have probably been run down everywhere and not have anything “nice” to it, but again… soulless, bland, boring, clean, stale, etc… it kinda goes with the times and territory…

    “Even the meth labs are nice”? Why do you say that? It was a crappy one-room building with a bunch of crappy equipment and one holey couch. If they’ve been cooking for a while, they’d probably be rich enough TO afford a nice meth lab, but the one depicted on the show seemed pretty.. uh.. normal, for a meth lab. It wasn’t a Breaking Bad-style superlab or anything! The most bizarre moment of the episode, and one of the most bizarre in the history of the show, was when the meth dude eats the apple pie and remembers his childhood and cries. What was up with that?

    “why don’t you strangers join us for dinner?” Comic Book Guy has interacted with all the Simpsons a thousand times, and Mel… Mel is just weird. Shrug.

    Maybe I missed it in your write-up but I’m shocked you didn’t mention E4, which was by far the weakest part of the episode. Tired “parodies” of tired games. The Simpsons were usually respectful-to-the-audience and fearless, enough, respectively, to either a) make up their own cultural items or b) make fun of ACTUAL CELEBRITIES/EVENTS (ignoring Tatum and Wolfcastle and other people based on celebrities). Nowadays, everything is a really obvious parody of something really silly anyway. GUTS OF WAR II takes the cake. “Oh, GUTS. CUZ THE GAME’S BLOODY! LAWL!” I mean, at what point in the devising of this episode did ANYONE find that amusing in any way?

    Anyway, great blog!

    • 27 Charlie Sweatpants
      15 November 2011 at 4:45 pm

      The laptop thing wasn’t just annoying because they had three of them (though that didn’t help). It was also the way they just kept appearing. Okay, Marge has one on the table, but then Homer just produces one from behind his back, and for the capper Lisa gets one out of thin air next to Marge. Things and people materialize out of nothing so often on this show you’d think I’d get used to it, but I don’t.

      As for the meth lab being nice, it’s pretty much what the anonymous commenter below said:

      “As for the cleanliness, well I’m guessing that it’s a result of the HD animation, everything resulting in super slick and super clean look, even though it’s supposed to be grimy.”

      That’s it exactly. They can’t make things look dirty anymore because even if they put some cracks in the windows, all the backgrounds are colored uniformly, all the lines are straight, etcetera. There’s no texture to anything.

      • 15 November 2011 at 5:03 pm

        Oh, okay, I see what you’re saying regarding the laptops now.

        And yeah the creepy computerized slick-as-hell high-def coloring burns my eyes. I dunno if you or anyone who reads this blog is into BEAVIS AND BUTTHEAD but they just came back after like 15 years of not being on the air and despite being computerized, the coloring and animation very closely resembles the last season of the show. Which is nice, since being kinda beat-up and ugly/dirty adds to the humor as well as making the animation not so stiff, clean, and sterile even if it IS computerized (this is also a problem I have with many ADult Swim shows, aside from 12 Oz. Mouse which is all MSPAINTed and crayoned and shit). So, Zombie Simpsons COULD still have some interesting coloring/animation but instead they want everything to look clean and professional and I don’t know a single person who thinks it actually looks “good”, beyond a technical level (which it even fails at quite often as your blog has pointed out before).

    • 30 Lovejoy Fan
      15 November 2011 at 4:57 pm

      “why don’t you strangers join us for dinner?” Comic Book Guy has interacted with all the Simpsons a thousand times, and Mel… Mel is just weird. Shrug.”

      Which reminds me, what the hell were those two even doing there? When were either of these characters ever that interesting? (Well, I suppose Mel might’ve been at one point, can’t remember for sure.) I know the writers seem intent on using the same characters as much as possible, but that’s just ridiculous.

      • 31 Patrick
        15 November 2011 at 7:32 pm

        Sky1 have been showing season 2 now and it’s so refreshing to see the characters in appropriate situations rather than the mess we have today

  10. 32 Anonymous
    15 November 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Springfield has become the aproximation of Los Angeles a few seasons back. And I don’t know what caused the writers to model Springfield after LA but Springfield and LA doesn’t mix at all…

    As for the cleanliness, well I’m guessing that it’s a result of the HD animation, everything resulting in super slick and super clean look, even though it’s supposed to be grimy.

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