The Simpson is now arguably the biggest sitcom and animation of TV history, but what is it that makes it so successful compared to traditional sitcoms. In order to answer this question, we have to look at sitcom as a whole; then the difference if any between modern and traditional sitcoms. Sitcoms when first released were aimed at families and it tried to show what American should be like. Sitcoms are popular for many different reasons; some of these including that they were episodic in nature therefore you didn’t have to watch them from the beginning. Also the American had fought in world war two, so shows like “Leave it to Beaver” showed them what they want. The producer used varies comic devices to make the audience laugh; these including visual humour, word play, funny situations and hyperbole.
Traditional Sitcoms used to follow a narrative structure; such as the father worked and the mother was a housewife. The family was set in a white sub-urban community “utopias” where the elders were still respected. The storylines were set around the family which was middle-class and they were very tight together. Most of the characters in traditional sitcoms were good, but to stop it being too sugary, they had one or two bad characters that cause small problems. As world war two was just over, the American media and government was trying to maintain the American’s image of freedom and the image of hope. The Simpsons has some of these characteristics but it does break most of them. The first difference you see straight away is that the characters are mostly yellow and this is because it was supposed to catch the eye of “channel flickers” quoted by Matt Groening. Also because it is an animation, it can be more unrealistic therefore use more hyperbole. Unlike families in traditional sitcoms such as “Leave it to Beaver”; the Simpsons family is far from perfection as shown by Homer, the unreasonably and lazy father. The main difference in storylines is that Simpsons is not afraid to talk about controversial topics and make fun out of politics. This makes the Simpsons more realistic then traditional sitcoms were therefore audience got more involved with the family
The Simpson’s trademark when compared to others sitcoms is it opening sequence; there is no other like it. It has different functions; one of the main functions is to clearly establish the setting and the main character The Simpsons family. They are introduced visually; we see Homer work in the power plant and leaving as soon as the whistle blows; Marge doing the shopping; Bart writing up lines and Lisa playing a saxophone solo. We learn a lot from this opening sequence such as that Homer is not passionate about his work or maybe lazy; Marge is the traditional housewife looking after Maggie; Bart is not the perfect child like Beaver and Lisa is a rebel and more intelligent then most students. It also shows that the TV is the centre of their family life as they mostly gather around it. The opening sequence also informs the audience that “The Simpsons” is also a comedy because it creates humour such as the couch gag. It also involves the audience straight away from the start with the three things that changes: Writing on the Billboard, Lisa’s solo, couch gag. The opening sequence shows that this is not like other conventional sitcoms; as we see everyone is not perfect, and the nuclear power plant which would be frowned upon by most people. As most people, after the Chernobyl nuclear incident, would not like to be near a power plant.