One of those problems with The Simpsons...

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One of those problems with The Simpsons...

Post by Archonix » Sun Dec 17, 2006 11:39 am

Just talking with Chris, after spying a clip from the infamous anorexia episode (where, if you don't know, Lisa decides she's fat and stops eating). It struck me that this episode was trying to make some sort of a point, but one of the inherent limitations of the show prevented it from doing so in any decent way. I mean, how can you possibly have an 8 year old kid with an eating disorder?

Ok Graham never say never...

It may be possible, but how likely? Not very. The rality is that these sort of disorders hit at around the age of 16 when, as Troy McClure might say on your informational video about sex, "changes begin to happen". It's one of those things. I believe this highlights one of the unintentional problems with the show that other sitcoms don't have; the lack of teenagers. They're all either kids or 30-somethings. The lack of teens makes it very hard to do certain kinds of story, leaving the writers to try and force round pegs in to square holes whenever they try to address them. Add that to their apaprent inability to remember major plot details from week to week and... well.

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Re: One of those problems with The Simpsons...

Post by fanworker5 » Sun Dec 17, 2006 12:19 pm

I mean, how can you possibly have an 8 year old kid with an eating disorder?
You've obviously never been to New York City. ;D lol, but, seriously, crazier things have happened in reality. I'll agree with you on the fact that the show needs more teens. The "Bullies" being the few teens of the show just won't cut it.
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Re: One of those problems with The Simpsons...

Post by Casper » Sun Dec 17, 2006 1:35 pm

Lisa has a lot of inperfections, being 8 years old and super smart etc etc...

I find it questionable that sombody so young has such a grasp on religion, to the extent to seperate from the family and become budest.
But that too would have been more realistic should Lisa be, at least 14.

I think probably the most realistic young character on the show is Ralph. But then again, between having an ultra realistic show, and having some fantasy for the purpose of comedy, I prefer comedy. As long as it isnt Homer pain. Then more Homer pain. Then maybe Lisa's cat dies again, but this time under 'funnier' circumstances like a UFO landing on it...
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Re: One of those problems with The Simpsons...

Post by Tony_Baritone » Sun Dec 17, 2006 2:18 pm

I've made this point in chat quite a few times, and I agree.  It makes writing the show that much harder (both for the show and fanfic) as most of the issues one associates with teen years have to be transferred to preteens or (rarely) adults, making things ring just a little off.  Granted, Lisa's intelligence and maturity levels make things a little easier, but then you have the problem of how to balance her childlike and adultlike qualities.  Of course, it could be a way of saying that the "problems" that teens face frankly pale with those of adults (and are far less important than they are in their minds) and they should STFU.  I don't fully endorse that--teenage years are more perilous than when they were that age--but clearly the adult writers don't have much use for a teenage perspective.

Fanworker5, you need to fix that link.

And for those that legitimately don't know, Yeardley Smith has had well-publicized bouts with eating disorders.  I can almost guarantee that has something to do with how this idea came to be, or at least how it came to the tube.
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Re: One of those problems with The Simpsons...

Post by c_nordlander » Sun Dec 17, 2006 3:16 pm

I couldn't agree more.

As I see it, this is one of the problems that could easily be solved by aging the characters. Not in real-time, obviously, but if they're going to deal with teenage problems like anorexia (or, to take other possible examples, smoking, or hormones, or underage drinking), they should make sure that the characters are of an age to make it plausible.

As for Yeardley Smith suffering from eating disorders, I don't see how that's any excuse. If the people behind the show want to say something valid about that problem, which is laudable, a good first step would be not to make the issue grotesque (and, by extension, unrealistic) by forcing it on a completely unsuitable character. What's next, Mr Burns finds out he's HIV positive? Better to make no statement at all than to, as Graham put it, force a round peg in a square hole like that.

To be fair, I haven't seen the episode in question, and can't make any specific comments. My opinions here apply solely to the premise.
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Re: One of those problems with The Simpsons...

Post by Terry Y » Sun Dec 17, 2006 3:38 pm

I've been saying for years that the characters need to age.  They've shot themselves in the foot by not doing so.  And when they try to have their characters deal with more mature subject matter, it just comes across as creepy and/or weird.  Good call.
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Re: One of those problems with The Simpsons...

Post by AssistantCrone » Sun Dec 17, 2006 4:26 pm

I haven't seen the episode yet, granted, but.... haven't they done something like this before? Lisa got insecure about her appearance in the 'Little Miss Springfield' ep. That didn't feel out-of-character or too mature for an eight-year-old. (That said, I wouldn't be at all surprised if there exist some eight-year-olds with eating disorders in real life).
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Re: One of those problems with The Simpsons...

Post by fellranger » Sun Dec 17, 2006 5:46 pm

I'm not convinced that the characters need to age or that the show needs more teen characters.  You have to ask the question of whether there's enough in the way of exclusively teenage "issues" to make it worthwhile?  They could probably run through the whole gamut of teenage angst in the space of half a season and then be forced to move on.  I suppose they could get some mileage out of Lisa (and Bart?) at college but then you're into them starting families themselves and we're back into territory that's already been covered or could be covered by the current set-up.
I think Beb has hit the point, that it is possible to cover at least some the ground using parody or allegory as has been done in the past (and done well).  I wouldn't mind a flash-forward ep or two with the kids in their teens, that would give them the opportunity to address this sort of stuff with out having to make irreversible changes to the show.
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Re: One of those problems with The Simpsons...

Post by Archonix » Sun Dec 17, 2006 5:55 pm

I think it's the suitability of the characters to the plot more than anything. One thought that occured to me was how much better that plot cold have been handled if they'd use a different character. Maude, for instance, were she not dead. IMO she's pretty much the perfect character to explore that sort of illness.
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Re: One of those problems with The Simpsons...

Post by fellranger » Sun Dec 17, 2006 6:18 pm

I think it's the suitability of the characters to the plot more than anything.
Oh yes, I'm not disputing that, I just don't think that aging the characters purely to allow the show to directly tackle extra material (which would probably be pretty limited) is worth the loss of the dynamics as they stand (or stood...).  My other argument would be that perhaps they should just work within the limits of the show.  I appreciate that the writers like to push the boundaries but they have managed to cover a lot of ground within the current structure and with a bit of creativity I think there's still room for manouvre as things stand.   
There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning....
And that, I think, was the handle - that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn't need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting - on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave....
So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark - that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.

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Re: One of those problems with The Simpsons...

Post by fanworker5 » Sun Dec 17, 2006 9:38 pm

Fanworker5, you need to fix that link.
i accidentally made a link instead of a quote. Sorry, I'll fix that. :doh:
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Re: One of those problems with The Simpsons...

Post by Casper » Mon Dec 18, 2006 6:23 pm

Besides all that, how many times has (8 year old) Lisa had a birthday?
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Re: One of those problems with The Simpsons...

Post by missy_misery » Wed Dec 20, 2006 6:05 pm

See, this makes me recall the olden days of the show, when stuff like father/daughter difficulties (Lisa's Substititute, Lisa's Wedding), suicide and worker safety (the first episiode) and parents who leave (Mother Simpson) could be addressed by the show with a combination of levity and bittersweet longing.

I think the writing is starting to gradually, slowly go back to that kind of middle ground - parts of "The Haw-Hawed Couple" and "Please Homer Don't Hammer 'em" and "Kill Gill" show a slow uptick in quality that started a couple of seasons back.

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Re: One of those problems with The Simpsons...

Post by sabrina_diamond » Sat Feb 24, 2007 12:09 am

:doh: I feel that the Simpsons have been in a non-aging timeline for too long and they need to age them a little bit... (hey, I wonder what Lisa and Bart will look like as teens?) hmm
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Re: One of those problems with The Simpsons...

Post by Stretch_Dude » Sat Feb 24, 2007 1:19 am

sabrina_diamond wrote: (hey, I wonder what Lisa and Bart will look like as teens?) hmm
Like this, one might assume...
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