The Simpsons reach 500 episodes

By Katie Finlon

Twenty-three seasons. 500 episodes.

Ay caramba.

“At Long Last Leave,” the 500th episode of The Simpsons, will air at 8 p.m. Sunday on Fox.

According to Entertainment Weekly, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will make a cameo on the episode. Assange is under house arrest in Great Britain, and he recorded his part in a location unknown to Simpsons producers.

Musician Alison Krauss will provide a special theme song for the episode, according to the Huffington Post.

When Homer and Marge find out the town residents are trying to kick them out of Springfield, the family takes off and ends up in a town on the outskirts of Springfield. There they meet Assange, who sort of becomes their new Flanders.

The Simpsons is the longest scripted animated show aired on American television, said communications professor Matt Swan.

After 23 seasons and earning so many titles and awards, the question begs to be asked: What made The Simpsons stick around in the midst of new shows like Family Guy?

Swan said its humor appeals to most demographics and age groups. Even now, he enjoys watching the show.

“I think those still are very fresh, and I think everyone from kids to people in their 60s and 70s can still enjoy the Simpsons,” Swan said. “Where shows like Family Guy, American Dad and South Park tend to be written mainly for a younger audience, like 18 to 35 year olds.”

The show’s success depends on both timelessness and completely immersing itself into pop culture, said junior communications major Casey Grogg.

“I think this being such a popular show, even this far along, goes to show that age has nothing to do with it,” Grogg said. “Just completely immersing yourself into the media, in pop culture, can get you that far along, and I think it gives anybody just watching the show a respect for older people.”

Not only is the show the longest-running animated series, but it is also the longest running primetime comedy series in American television history, according to IMDb. It is also the longest-running spin-off series of all time, its parent series was early sketches of the Simpson family from The Tracey Ullman Show.

Swan said the purpose of any show is to have the audience constantly expand and rejuvenate itself for years to come.

“I think the Simpsons has been very successful in doing that,” he said. “I think it continually finds people discovering it for the first time. It’s become such a cultural icon. The Simpsons will always be airing somewhere, even after the show eventually comes off the air.”

Junior communications major Josh Vezina agrees that the show has some kind of staying power.

“The fact that it’s still on in a critic-driven world shows that writers must be doing something right,” he said. “The fact that some TV shows can’t even finish a season makes this an even greater feat.”

The people of Springfield might not appreciate 23 seasons of the Simpsons, but viewers continue to help them reach American television milestones.