If you’re like most people my age (in your late 20s or early 30s), you grew up watching The Simpsons. The longest running cartoon in history, the Simpsons first aired in 1989 (’87 if you count the shorts from the Tracey Ullman Show). 22 years later, it’s still going strong.
And while I consider myself a big fan of the show, I can’t help but feel that on yesterday’s season finale they jumped the shark. The plot, which was fairly weak for a Simpsons season finale, revolved around a romance between ancillary characters Ned Flanders (the annoying neighbor) and Edna Krabappel (Bart’s teacher).
To give you some back story in case you live under a rock and have never seen the show, Flanders is a uber-religious conservative, whereas Edna has a rather checkered romantic past with lots of partners. You may have expected hilarity to ensue from this unlikely pairing – it didn’t.
But that brings me to my point – at the end of the show, Ned was having doubts about continuing to date such an experienced woman and was debating whether he should continue their relationship. And here The Simpsons producers did something rather unusual: they left this decision up to the fans.
By logging onto thesimpsons.com, fans of the show can vote on whether the couple should stay together.
While I like the idea of including the viewers in show decisions, from an established show like The Simpsons, it seems like a desperate ploy for attention. This is particularly true when you consider how irrelevant these characters are to the show in general. Sure, Ned’s Christian morals play a good foil to Homer’s buffoonery, and Mrs. Krabappel is a nice antagonist to Bart’s antics, but they’re simply just not very interesting characters on their own.
And while I understand the desire to leave the fans wanting more by leaving questions unanswered on the season finale (sort of like their “who shot JR?” take-off “who shot Mr. Burns?”), as a longtime Simpsons fan, I can honestly say, I don’t care. I don’t care whether Nedna stays together.
Bringing the audience into plot decisions is an innovative approach to television, but interactivity for its own sake seems like a waste to me. But then, what do I know? I’m just a guy.