Ranking, watching and surveying the entire catalog of The Simpsons with showrunner Al Jean

Twenty-five years of The Simpsons has passed before our eyes, and it’s about to happen again — all in a row, all at once.

The FXX complete marathon of The Simpsons — complete with The Simpsons Movie airing in sequence of when during the series it arrived in cinemas — begins this morning and continues for 12 days.

Al Jean, an original member of the writing staff and showrunner since the 10th season (Jean is pictured above at right, alongside Homer Simpson and his creation, animator Matt Groening during promotion of The Simpsons Movie in 2007), offered some thoughts before the marathon.

First off, don’t kill yourself trying to watch all 552 episodes in a row all at once! Don’t try this at home? Yes. Don’t try.

Jean said he binge-watches TV from time to time — “Like say if I’m behind on a series like 24, I watch a bunch in a row. I would say medical doctors have said you can’t go more than two days without sleeping.”

“We, at The Simpsons, do not want anyone killing themselves over watching the show. I think you should definitely record them and watch for later, but I do think you might see a lot of different things and be surprised by what you see if you watch at different points, and we’re going to be live tweeting, not continuously, but every time there’s an episode I wrote or a show ran, I’ll try to get in on them. We’re asking guest stars who did the show if they’d like to tweet with the writers. So, we hope to have a discussion going on for the whole way and throw in interesting things people may not have heard.”

And if you’re looking to rank them in a different order — say your favorites — there’s an app for that. Coming soon. As part of Simpsons World.

“It’s up to the fans. We went and listened to what it seemed that people wanted out of the show, and when the app is fully up and running, which probably won’t be until early next year, you can get clips, you can send clips to your friends, you can do an assortment of clips almost like re-edit like people did with the…stuff, and the voting will be up the users too. It will be whatever everybody who logs in votes for and shows they like or dislike. Shows that people dislike the most may actually get some interest viewing, and it’s not for us to say. That’s the great thing about this app.”

Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie nor anyone else seems to have aged a bit over the past 25 years. Does this mean the show hasn’t evolved?

Any fan who has seen the original first clips or season knows the answer to that.

But take it away, Jean!

“Well, it’s honestly in my opinion, they’ve all—animation wise, a great deal between Season 1 and 2, and of course the storytelling got more complicated too, and then, when I was running it around Season 4, we added a certain number of rewrites, the animatic process. So, it got denser I think although it was always a really funny show, and then, I don’t think it’s really changed though that much in its basic process from Season 2 or even the beginning. We’re always just trying to write a show about family. We’re trying to make it reflect the times that we live in and we have this great cast that fortunately has not changed, and so, we don’t approach it any differently. I can’t say how it looks to somebody on the outside, but I’m really sitting and doing the same thing just trying to come up with a different result than I did 20 years ago.”

So how much longer can they go?

“Well, it seems like saying another 25 is a little bit humorous, but to be realistic, our ratings are really good. If I was looking at it from a network point of view, I would say gee, let’s get a deal for two years with an option for two more. Just look at the demos which are very young, you’d go this show looks like it has a lot of room to run.”

And one of the most popular questions: Which Springfield is it? Groening is from Oregon, after all.

“Well, I won’t say that The Simpsons are in Oregon, but I can definitively say The Simpsons mural will be in Oregon. They are dedicating it, as I’m sure you know, later this month and Yeardley Smith who plays Lisa will be there, and the mockup is going to be beautiful. So, the answer to the question is there is no answer, but there’s no question that Oregon has had a huge influence, not bad, but elements of the show are named after places in Oregon.”

The Simpsons marathon begins at 10 a.m. Eastern today and runs 24 hours a day, over the course of 12 days, FXX will air all 552 episodes of The Simpsons (through Season 25) as well as The Simpsons Movie (airing after episode 400), in chronological order. Ending at Midnight Sept. 1, 2014.

Live-Tweeting via @EverySimpsons and the hashtag #EverySimpsonsEver with fans The Simpsons writers, including Al Jean (@AlJean), Matt Selman (@MattSelman) and Mike Prince (@MikePriceinLA).


Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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