Stages of Decline

Here’s an insightful look at the six stages of The Simpsons, labeled as:

1. Lacerating Punk Satire

2. Traditional Humanist Sitcom

3. Absurdist Thrill Ride

4. Deconstructionist Self-Parody

5. Pop Culture Chatroulette

6. Triumph of the Nerds

My favorite era was the transition between stages two and three (1992 – 1996, roughly). Fantastical realism is a lost art (and no, don’t throw Harry Potter at me).

I was looking through the list and thought that it could also be applied to the “American experiment” in general, starting with pretend sympathies for the French Revolution, going all the way to the present Cubicle State—although you would need to rephrase # 6 to be something like “Triumph of Technology,” or “Triumph of the Machine.”

This transition is, of course, neatly summed up by a Simpsons quote: when a generic lawyer character is being sucked down into the bowels of the earth in one of the many rapture-themed episodes, his last words are: “Remember me… as a drain on society.”

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