In the past 2-3 years, some people have been questioning how well referential sitcoms will age. Thanks to the popularity of streaming media and an insatiable desire for more and more content, many of us are seeing dozens of TV shows for the first time through Netflix and Hulu. And the availability of these shows gives younger generations a chance to experience (and criticize) the sitcoms that once captivated their parents and grandparents.
The Simpson’s often times does draw inspiration from pop culture and historical events, but the writing is sharp enough that you don’t need to remember the invasion of the Falkland Islands in order to get the joke. It’s the reason why Millennials are still quoting classic Simpsons episodes from 20 years ago, while shows like Murphy Brown have largely been forgotten.
But despite the brilliance that is the Simpsons, there are the occasional jokes that are only funny if you were born before 1975, or you do some Wiki research. Here’s my list of 5 Simpson’s jokes that are completely dated:
This one is full of dated references (the CD player, Homer talking about the US Festival, the scene takes place in a record store) but let’s focus on Apple Computers. It’s hard to imagine a hip, twenty something being unaware of Apple. Then again, in the mid-90′s it was probably hard to imagine Apple rising from obscurity and becoming a powerhouse of cutting-edge consumer technology. To some it’s ironic, but without knowing Apple’s history, the jokes loses all meaning.
“There was nothing in Al Capone’s vault, but it wasn’t Geraldo’s Fault.”
Who is Geraldo and why is he in the guy from boardwalk Empire’s vault? The incredibly violent but sympathetic mobster from the HBO show was a real person, and in 1986 TV personality Geraldo hosted a live 2 hour event, culminating in the vault being cracked open for all of America to see. What riches from the Roaring Twenties would be unearthed? Unfortunately the vault was empty, leaving only Geraldo standing there, egg on face.
“Oh, it’s that record club. The first nine were only a penny. Then they jacked up the price!”
Ah, the record clubs. 9 records for just 1 cent, as long as you buy several more at exorbitantly high prices. They actually survived in to the late nineties (selling CDs, of course, but still offering that too good to pass up deal). It was a total ripoff, and Homer being the man who once said “Extended warranty. How can I lose?!”, couldn’t help but fall for it.
Haig in ’88
Alexander Haig served as Chief of Staff under Reagan, and ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination in 1988. His biggest blunder coming during Rappin Ronnie’s assassination attempt when he told reporters that “he was in charge”, despite being 5th in the presidential line of succession. I have no idea why Homer is bloodied and bruised, or why he was a supporter of Haig, and yet I still find that mugshot hilarious.
“Remember Alf? He’s Back! In Pog Form!”
Pogs are a completely indefensible toy from my childhood, and to this day I still don’t know the rules. I think you and a friend stacked the pogs, then used a slammer to knock them over? But who cared about the rules, because all your favorite characters had their own pog! The Ninja Turtles, Thundercats and….Alf. While the idea of Milhouse loving Alf (and that apparently “he’s back”) is hilarious, I can’t imagine anyone under 20 who really knows what pogs are (I’m not entirely sure either, and I grew up with them).
“Lobo…Lobo….bring back Sheriff Lobo!”
“Rosebud” is a perfect example of the Simpson’s ability to parody something (in this case Citizen Kane) without requiring that you see the movie in order to get most of the jokes. But as Homer is having a particularly intense dream about the NBC sitcom, The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo, most who don’t remember the late 70′s TV show are scratching their heads. This was apparently one of Homer’s favorite shows, as he also mentioned it in the episode Marge in Chains.