Tuesday, September 02, 2008

30 Rock = The Simpsons With More Fingers and Less Pronounced Overbites

To celebrate the historic occasion of Liz Lemon being selected as the Republican vice presidential candidate (sure, she's fictional, but being the executive producer of a fictional show still counts as experience that's necessary for the Republicans' neo-imperialist ambitions!), I'd like to offer this trenchant analysis that's been moldering as an unfinished draft since May.

If you're a Simpsons fan like me -- though you probably aren't a fan like me, since Matt Groening is my cousin and all; but, for the sake of argument -- if you're a Simpsons fan like me, then you've probably wondered for the past 10 seasons exactly where its surreal genius disappeared to, which certainly didn't end up on its animated spawn. Post-Simpsons cartoons have been bitterly nihilist -- e.g. South Park and Family Guy (which, in its reincarnated form, is also unfunny). Even the progenitor, which since "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" has skewered our favorite dysfunctional family with the acidic touch only a loving relative (i.e. my cousin Matt) can provide, has long ago wandered from its originating philosophy: as awful and ridicule-worthy as people are, the essential guiding principle of The Simpsons is (or was) big-hearted humanism. But as the First LOL of Thermodynamics states, comedy with heart can't be destroyed. The question, then, becomes, "Where did it go?"

The answer: it's grown extra fingers, corrected the horrible, horrible overbites, gotten over its jaundice, and -- here's the key, folks, pay extremely close attention to this -- put on a sexy pair of glasses. That's right, the spirit of the The Simpsons have gone all fleshy and 3D on us and lives on... in 30 Rock! (Well, I suppose that this revelation didn't totally surprise you if you happened to know how to read, but let's not pay too much attention to details if they get in the way of making good copy.)

Behold, after the jump!

Homer Simpson
He's loud, obnoxious, in-your-face and possibly brain-damaged/mentally ill, so who else could Homer be on 30 Rock but, in a younger and blacker way...

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Lisa Simpson
Imagine everyone's favorite (ok, my favorite) character from our favorite family in all her self-assured liberal rectitude... but squeezed through the bittering sieve of 30-some odd years of neuroses and myopia, grown up Lisa would look a lot like...

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Marge Simpson
The most obvious nag on 30 Rock is obviously Liz, but she can't be two Simpsons because that wouldn't be fun. Instead, if you think of Marge as the show's sole straight (wo)man, then Pete Hornberger! Of course, he's way balder than Marge, but on the other hand, she doesn't have a sexy Justin Timberlake hat, so there.

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Bart Simpson
Bart's an interesting case because he's the one character who has arguably changed the most over the course of the show's run (the other arguable character being Homer, of course); before becoming Homer Jr. (we can call him "HoJu"!), Bart was the lil anarchist, the id-driven hellion who tried to subvert authority (Homer's especially -- this was when he wasn't the bald ape's sidekick) in the early, pre—shark jumping days of The Simpsons. So now I get to bifurcate him into two 30 Rock characters: if you take anarchist Bart and add a dash of cougar, you get Jenna Maroney. On the other hand, if we view HoJu as part of Bart's process of growing up, and if he had gone to business school, well then, that's...

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Just kidding, I mean:

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Maggie Simpson
Maggie presents a natural challenge since 30 Rock doesn't have any character who doesn't talk, but worry not, your fearless host will tread boldly ahead. On the one show, we have the baby, and on the other show, we have the babe -- yes, Cerie Xerox!

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(Yes, that's her last name.) Think about it: if The Simpsons took place in real time, then Maggie would be 18 by now, the same age as Cerie.

If I can scramble my own analogies for a moment, Maggie mostly clings to Marge, and on 30 Rock, the closest thing to a maternal influence on Cerie is Liz, but in this case, the mother-daughter relationship is tilted sideways. Liz doesn't support Cerie or nourish her even metaphorically, but Liz rather depends on Cerie for feeling validated as a single woman.


Ned Flanders
Everyone's favorite smilin' Evangelical just needs to swap his green sweater and glasses for an NBC blazer, in which case well by golly...

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Milhouse
Only his mother thinks he's cool while everyone else sees him as a pushover/punching bag/loser, and I couldn't bother to screen cap him: Josh Girard! (I was actually sorely tempted to align Frank with van Houten.)



Lenny & Carl
If Homer's buddies had an inexplicable weakness for telecom stock and a burning desire for Josh to think they're cool, they'd be Grizz & Dot Com.



Martin Prince
Roundly ridiculed for his excessive erudition, just like Toofer.



Comic Book Guy
Simultaneously pithy and smarmy with no native fashion sense, filled with contempt for others besides himself...

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Duffman
Meet Dennis Duffy OH YEAH!

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Mr. Burns
If Burnsy were 40 years younger, nicer, and the CEO of a Sheinhardt Wig Co. subsidiary, he'd be Don Geiss.



Langdon Alger
Arsenio Billingham. Obviously.



Smithers
If Waylon were clingier, he'd be Jonathan.

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Doctor Nick Riviera
Say hello to Doctor Leo Spaceman!


Corey
If Corey wore a backwards cap...

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So I guess that makes Lutz a true original, huh?

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Indie rating: Love - "The Good Humor Man He Sees Everything Like This"

4 comments:

Margot said...

Well I am a fan like you (minus the blue blood) ever since the Tracy Ullman Show, when we would rush *into* the living room when a commercial was coming instead of the opposite, because that’s when we got to see The Simpsons. Remember the one at the animal park where Bart is goofing off and ends up in the Shark Pool? Homer yells at him to get out and he says, “No thanks, I feel safer in here.” And they were TRULY ugly back then. Way cool.

I have been trying to get into 30 Rock because everyone (with tastes like mine) loves it, but it hasn’t stuck yet. OK, I’ll give it another try when you put it that way! Besides, it’s not like I have anything to do now that SYTYCD is over… Say ‘hi’ to Matt for me :P

Leee said...

I'm a blue blood in the McCain sense, in that I'm related to cousin Matt by marriage. You have me on The Tracy Ullman Show, though, because the only short I remember watching, though I did try to watch them all as a lad, I think, was when a vase got stuck on Bart's head and Lisa and Maggie were messing around with him.

Have you made it to the second season of 30 Rock? A few duds, but seriously, the closest thing to season 4 of The Simpsons since season 5 of The Simpsons. But if that doesn't float your boat, maybe it's just not your bag.

Margot said...

I only watched a few moments a couple times and haven’t gotten the “mood” yet – but I tried and failed with Family Guy many more times until I finally “got it” and love that show to death. Based on the people I know who like it, I will be lovin’ it soon :)

I remember the vase on the head! Jeez I just read there were 48 of those shorts – didn’t remember that many. Sure hope we get a collection some day…

KWYJIBO!

Chus said...
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