I’ve always been of the belief that the second half of The Simpsons’ existence hasn’t necessarily been worse than its true golden age (think seasons 4-10), just different. While the plots are often not as poignant – it’s hard to find a lot of new things to say after so many years – the show has never lost its pace or penchant for rapid-fire joke delivery that, despite what many people want to believe, still hits way more than it misses.
But in the show’s Lego episode last Sunday, the classic atmosphere of the show was evident to even the most hardened former fans and brought with it plenty of existential fodder.
In it, Homer has constructed (…) a fantasy world for himself where the world is made entirely of Legos and, naturally, no one can ever get hurt. The familiar humor and elevated one-liners are there, but the real strength of the episode hinged on the plot.
It’s a Homer-Lisa story we’ve seen before – the two can’t connect and ultimately find something that brings them together – but when Homer is crushed that Lisa ditches a contest for Lego creations to see a Hunger Games-esque movie with her newfound friends, it’s like The Simpsons stepped right back into the 90’s. Homer constructs the Lego fantasy to cope with losing his daughter as she grows up, but he eventually realizes that the joy of having children is watching them grow up in the first place.
The Simpsons were back, for one night at least.
But it also goes to show that this sitcom, entering its mid-twenties, can still grab you with a story and remind you of a golden past that is more than a decade old. That in itself is pretty special.