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The Simpsons are an animated television family who are featured in a popular television show of the same name that began airing on the Fox television network on December 17, 1989. The Simpsons revolves around the lives of five main family members of the fictional town of Springfield. Matt Groening, an American cartoonist, writer and producer, created the television show. Groening is also the writer of a weekly comic strip titled Life In Hell as well as the creator of another Fox animated television series, Futurama. The Simpsons began as a series of animated shorts until it was eventually made into its own half-hour prime time television show which is highly acclaimed and has garnered many awards throughout its duration.
The five immediate members the Simpson family are Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie. Homer Simpson is a somewhat oafish, beer-loving father whose job is safety inspector at the local nuclear power plant. Marge, his wife, stays at home with their three children and works hard to keep the family in balance. Bart, who is ten years old and their oldest child, is a troublemaker as well as a self-proclaimed underachiever. His sister Lisa, eight, is quite the opposite as a morally centered third grade genius who happens to excel at playing the baritone saxophone. Little Maggie, the youngest Simpson at age one, imparts her own special wisdom by not saying anything at all and instead sucks on a pacifier.
Some other notable characters of The Simpsons include: Abraham Simpson, the senile Grandpa; Ned Flanders, the Simpsons’ overly religious neighbor; Charles Montgomery Burns, owner of the nuclear power plant and Springfield’s most powerful citizen; Krusty the Clown, Springfield’s biggest celebrity and; and Seymour Skinner, principal of Springfield Elementary school and Bart Simpson's nemesis. The town of Springfield hosts many other minor neighborhood characters that play into the lives of the Simpsons and contribute to their adventures to varying degrees from show to show. Some play a part in many episodes, while others have made appearances on the show as little as only one time.
The episodes of The Simpsons have covered a wide variety of themes that have evolved over the long lifespan of the program, which also happens to be the longest running American situational comedy, or sitcom, of all time. The program’s main themes revolve around the aspects of typical American family life from the point of view of a highly dysfunctional American family. The Simpsons, having aired over 400 episodes, has covered many other different topics as well, including religion, politics, society, the entertainment industry and many more, sometimes covering several themes within a single episode.
The Simpsons has spawned a billion-dollar merchandising industry that has yielded thousands of different Simpsons-related products including DVDs, t-shirts, video games, music CDs, a theme park ride, a movie and more. There have also been many books written about the show and many studies have been done about its various themes, cultural references and cultural impacts.