“The Simpsons is a show that rewards intelligence…the smarter you are, the funnier it is,” claims Pinsky. “They have this way of making these characters so well rounded. You can see the things that are good about them and things that are not so good about them.”
One of the complex characters that Pinsky admires is Ned Flanders, Homer’s neighbor.
When Pinsky approached the writers and creators of The Simpsons, they told him the addressing religion was an act of “creative desperation.” The writers did not expect the show to last as long as it has – 18 years – and they needed new issues to discuss on the show. At the time, very few other shows had the guts to tackle religion from a comedic perspective. Religion has provided The Simpsons with a frame to discuss ongoing cultural and political controversies over the years, including gay marriage.
Pinsky also found that because The Simpsons is an animated program that it is easier for their audience to stomach a religious message. That may explain why religion has flourished as a subject for other cartoons, such as
The Simpsons Movie opens in theaters today.
Also on the show: William Lobdell, staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, on how covering the religion beat caused him to lose his faith.
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