Characters Of The Simpsons Archetypes Of American

Characters Of The Simpsons: Archetypes Of American Society Essay, Research Paper There are stereotypes of different people and beliefs throughout American’s thinking. From early

Characters Of The Simpsons: Archetypes Of American Society Essay, Research Paper

There are stereotypes of different people and beliefs throughout American’s thinking. From early

on we learn to associate certain cultural differences to certain individuals. The cartoon

representations on The Simpsons are a perfect example of such associations. Each character

from the long-running, prime time television show is an archetype of individuals in the

American society. Homer, Lisa, Barney, and all the rest give us a look at what “typical”

Americans should act like while, at the same time, critiquing their attitudes and behaviors.

The Simpsons is not the average cartoon show. Although it features cute, animated

people and many humorous situations it was not meant for children. This is how the show’s

writers can get away with such a complex stereotype for each character. Adults and in particular

American adults will understand references made buy the characters, their actions and thought

processes. When picked apart the main characters of the show, the Simpson family, each have

their own Americanized attitudes, which when thrown together encompass the typical “nuclear”


To set the scene for this example, picture a family of five, all doing their various daily

activities: the little boy skateboarding around the neighborhood causing trouble, the little girl at

school concentrating on her music, the mother and baby at the supermarket, and the father

driving home from a hard days work at the plant. All of a sudden the viewer is in this family’s

house watching them flop onto the couch in front of the television and doing something to make

you laugh. This is just the beginning credits from every Simpsons show. From the description

given here, it sounds like a nice normal family but actually seeing the events transcribed here

paints a very different picture. Each family member in the sequence does something

stereotypical of an individual in America.

Bart, for example, is getting into trouble, running into people on the sidewalks with his

skateboard. His character could be the preteen troublemaker we see all across the country. Yet

he is clever when performing his wild and crazy antics all over town. In one episode, Bart writes

in for a personal ad in the paper. Come to find out the lady behind the ad is his teach Mrs.

Krabappel. He uses his street smarts and child’s imagination to create a fake man, write her love

letters, and even come up with a picture to send. Realizing the trouble this could cause him, Bart

ends the “relationship” but in an extremely creative manner. The mischief of this ten year old

boy could be called typical of all boys his age.

Granted not all little boys end up getting into so much trouble. Any parent can confess

that, for the most part, their children are well behaved and good natured. Elementary school

teachers are always telling the school and the parents about the great things their students have

been doing in class. Although this is true, there are those that like to make a teacher’s and

parent’s life a little more interesting. Bart is a representative of all the antics school-aged boys

get into. In no way is Bart a true picture of these boys. He is there to exaggerate the problems

we, as a society, perceive these little boys to have, therefore making the show funny and

interesting to watch.

In another episode, there is a great example of how our society thinks that makes

everyone laugh. The Simpson family is having a barbecue and Lisa, being the vegetarian she is,

presents her father, Homer, with a salad to eat instead of his roast pig. The initial purpose of the

get-together was to help the family get to know the rest of the community. But much to Lisa’s

surprise Homer shuns her food singing, “You don’t make friends with salad!” The social

implications of status are shown here, the salad being of lower quality and prestige than a huge

roast pig. Again the writers are making fun of how Americans look at social gatherings such as

barbecues and questions their relevance. Do people really need to have meat to make friends?

No, not at all. Any true friends would like a person for who they were and not what they serve

for dinner. This is another exaggerated aspect of American thinking. It holds little truth but

what is there is blow out of proportion enough to make us laugh, and realize how futile the act

really is.

This process of putting American society under a microscope is what The Simpsons show

is all about. Without the characters being so typical, so exaggerated, it could not “poke fun” at

what American culture has become. This show takes people we see, such as our neighbors, TV

newscasters, and even celebrities, and blows them out of proportion. In a sense, the character

becomes the archetype for American citizens. The qualities the characters show us is the

supposed norm, and sometimes , it is too close to reality. Every time one of these “norms”

appears through a character’s thoughts or actions, we pause to think and consider how silly, yet

real, the action or thought was. If we can picture our friends, bosses, or children as being that

character on the screen, then writers for The Simpsons have done an excellent job. They have

drawn us in and shown us the stereotypes and patterns of behavior we fall into. At the same time

we laugh, knowing that it is all right to make fun of yourself once in a while.