Ink & Paint: "Who knows what they'll come up with between now and when the show becomes unprofitable?"

So, unless you've been living under a pop cultural rock lately, you've probably heard that The Simpsons is in danger of being cancelled over contract negotiations with the cast.  This announcement came about a month after Fox said they're considering a cable channel that is nothing but Simpsons reruns (more on this later).  The AV Club shows how ending the show could actually net Fox more money than continuing it, and like many, I find it hard to sympathize with a cast who already makes millions of dollars performing on an increasingly irrelevant show.

Some morons (usually on Yahoo, whose comment section reminds me why we should have a basic logic test for anyone looking to register to vote) have thought this is because The Simpsons is stepping on the conservative toes of Fox's corporate owners.  They have failed to realize that shows like The Simpsons (as well as the McFarlane shows and the F/X comedies, other popular targets for politically-fueled conspiracy theories) have made those toes a lot of money; in fact, I am sure that when your average concerned Fox News viewer writes in on how they should totally do exposes on those horrible Family Guy or Archer shows, they probably crack up laughing before having a money fight.  To most of the civilized world, profits & livelihood trump any sort of political posturing (this is why most of the civilized world no longer votes and why we're in the pathetic state that we're in).  So yeah, take off the tinfoil hats for a nanosecond and listen to this cold, hard truth.

The Simpsons stopped being entertaining a long time ago.  For me, the last episode I watched was the one where Lisa converted to Buddhism because the guest star wanted that; it required so much of the cast to act completely out of character for it to work that it was painful, and like so many of the guest star episodes, it afforded them a chance to use the show for their own soapbox.  Better episodes had done this (I'm thinking of the one with Paul & Linda McCartney), but they remembered to be funny.  This apparently was replaced by characters acting out of character and shouting at each other.  But that was the last straw for a run of terrible episodes.  I'm not the only one who bowed out - it seems like I stuck around longer than most in the vain hope it'd be good again - but for those of us who grew up on The Simpsons, its current state is just sad.  So if it were to end because four million an episode somehow still isn't good enough for the cast and put it out of its misery, I think people would miss it less on its present merits as entertainment and more on a nostalgic level.

That said, I would not be adverse to the notion of a Simpsons network.  This is because the syndicated episodes are only the ones from the past few years - in other words, none of the actually good episodes.  Giving the show its own network would mean that the older episodes might get screened again for viewers (although being edited for syndication would still be done, if only to justify getting "uncut" DVDs).  It's nothing I'd go out of my way to see, but if it meant being able to see a "Treehouse of Horror" that's actually funny or a Lisa episode that isn't hyper-preachy or a guest star used in a way that makes sense randomly while I'm flipping channels, I'm all for it.

I will be honest - if I heard The Simpsons was cancelled, I would be sad at first.  Like I said early, it's practically a tradition, even if there hasn't been a genuinely funny "Treehouse of Horror" in years, let alone one that actually aired before or on Halloween.  But then I'd think about all of the missteps from the past decade or so, when the writers that defined the show were replaced by people trying to mimic them half-heartedly and brought in all of the terribleness that so many viewers now associate with the series.  It would be a mercy killing, one that I would argue is a few years overdue.


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