Functionally Dysfunctional

Alexander - Centennial, Colorado
Entered on March 13, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30

Nearly everyone in the United States would recognize the yellow skin, protruding belly, and the two small hairs on top of Homer Simpson’s hair. When I was younger, the notoriously dysfunctional Simpsons family was banned from my house. Apparently the escapades of the slingshot-wielding Bart Simpson would set a bad example for me. My parents could simply not see the value in a cartoon. However, I believe that behind all of the satire and sarcasm, The Simpsons can teach you everything you need to know in life.

In sixth grade, all of my friends were huge Simpsons fans. On field trips, they would quote their favorite lines and talk about the best episodes. I felt left out, so one night I decided to break our house’s rules and watch a show. My parents had left the house for the night, so I figured it was the perfect opportunity to see what I was missing out on. The episode that was on that night revolved around Homer moving back to his old farmhouse. In order to make a living, Homer and the family develop a new breed of plant known as “Tomacco” which is a cross between tobacco and tomato. All of the animals at the farm become addicted to it and eventually Homer is forced to destroy it. Being a sixth grader, I laughed when Homer fell down the stairs, when Bart taunted Lisa, or when Homer uttered an iconic “D’oh”. However, the image of a Tomacco-addicted horse stuck with me. I turned off the TV satisfied with the humor in the episode but also with a surprising moral.

Eventually, I was able to convince my parents to let me watch the show regularly. I quickly found that the show was filled with much more substance than a normal cartoon. Episodes focused on Homer learning to appreciate his obnoxious neighbor. Bart realized the importance of giving Lisa a birthday gift. Lisa explored her religious beliefs despite her mom’s resistance. Marge learned the value of relaxing and taking a break. The list goes on and on. I admit that I do not usually tune into the Simpson’s for the life lessons; I don’t think that was the writers’ main goal. However, it is always a nice surprise when and episode strikes a chord with me. The Simpsons may not always be politically correct. Parents may cringe at the image of Homer strangling Bart. But I am willing to admit that I have learned a lot from the show. As a sixth grader, I was shown the danger of tobacco. And while not every show has strong ethical undertones, the ones that do can truly educate children. I know they helped me.