I've finished my 39th book of the year. This means that I have 4 months left to read 11 books, which is a bit ahead of schedule to finish 50. Not bad. This most recent read was The Simpsons; an Uncensored, Unauthorized History by John Ortved, which, if nothing else, made me want to revisit many episodes of the show and reminded me of how awesome it has been.
On the one hand, it's about the Simpsons, which has been an integral part of my pop culture experience for pretty much its entire existence, so I was pretty much guaranteed to like it. Like the author, I have heard frequent refrains of "Boo-urns" and often think of "Choo Choo Choose"ing someone. I've definitely asked people if I broke something or made it better, and yoink is a totally cromulent word that delightfully embiggens my vocabulary.
On the other hand, it's unauthorized and it's an oral history, so it doesn't really include everyone you'd be curious about (though it does include my favs, Conan O'Brien and Hank Azaria), but does include some people who you've never heard of, which gets a bit confusing, and there are definitely portions where he puts his opinions out there as facts. Like saying that the entertainment landscape was sad in the late eighties--while I agree that Family Matters is...not very good (if you've tried to watch any amount of it in the last few years, I'm sure you also agree, at very least, that it has not held up, especially if you saw a part that involved that weird...teleportation/cloning...stuff), he directly mentions Cheers, Roseanne, the Cosby Show, Family Ties, and Golden Girls. I do get the critique that things are too positive (saccharine, as he calls them) in some of these shows, but to me, they are classics, and several of them were groundbreaking in their own way.
One major point the book seemed to be making, while trying not to look like it was making it, was that Matt Groening really has very little do to with anything, aside from initially drawing the characters and naming them (it was one of the animators who came up with the color scheme, including the signature yellow skin, and there's a quote from him about how she never got proper credit, but who else should have been giving her credit if not him?). His involvement is illustrated by his pitching the following idea: in an episode where Marge was going to let her hair down for the first time, he wanted her to have rabbit ears underneath. Luckily for all of us, this was vetoed.
Apparently Jennifer Tilly was married to the guy who ran the show in the beginning. There's this weird quote from her: "We were really young, and I didn't want kids, and Sam didn't want kids, but to make up for it, we had--as couples often do--this imaginary kid running around that was always getting into trouble. Our imaginary kid was always taking the Porsche out for a spin. Or we'd leave a store, and Sam would say to him, "What do you have? What are you holding?" As couples often do? Have any of you ever done this? I know I haven't.
There were several great quotes from George Meyer, writer/producer from 1989-2004. One about launching a TV show: "Launching a new TV show is probably one of the most difficult things that a writer can do. In the early days, it's like a baby crawling across a freeway. It's such a miracle if it gets across." And another about the optimal ratio of goofing off to hard work. His answer: two-thirds goofing off.
It was interesting to read about the staff's interactions with some of the celebrity guests. The most interesting was, perhaps unsurprisingly, Michael Jackson. One of the editors is talking about sitting right next to Michael Jackson at the table read. He's basically so in awe of this happening that he's not even able to look. Then he hears Man in the Mirror, looks over, and it's not Michael Jackson singing. It's some guy he brought along as some sort of stand-in! So, this editor doesn't know whether the real Michael Jackson is singing in the episode or not. Supposedly, the real Michael Jackson did the Happy Birthday, Lisa song, but it is the imitator doing Man in the Mirror.
The worst sentence to read: there would probably be no Fox News if not for the Simpsons.