'The Simpsons': America's First Family
The Simpsons is an American animated television sitcom starring the animated Simpson family, which was created by Matt Groening. He conceived of the characters in the lobby of James L. Brooks's office and named them after his own family members, substituting "Bart" for his own name. The family debuted as shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show on April 19, 1987. After a three-season run, the sketch was developed into a half-hour prime time show called The Simpsons, which debuted on December 17, 1989. The show was an early hit for Fox, becoming the first Fox series to land in the top 30 ratings in a season (1990).
The show was controversial from its beginning and has made the news several times. In the early seasons, some parents and conservatives characterized Bart as a poor role model for children and several United States public schools even banned The Simpsons merchandise and t-shirts. In January 1992, then-President George H. W. Bush made a speech during his re-election campaign in which he said: "We are going to keep on trying to strengthen the American family, to make American families a lot more like the Waltons and a lot less like the Simpsons." In 2002, the show was nearly sued by the Rio de Janeiro tourist board for creating an unreal image of the city on the show.
The Simpsons Movie, a feature-length film, was released in theaters worldwide on July 26 and July 27, 2007. Previous attempts to create a film version of The Simpsons failed due to the lack of a script of appropriate length and production crew members. Eventually, producers Brooks, Groening, Al Jean, Mike Scully, and Richard Sakai began development of the film in 2001. They conceived numerous plot ideas, with Groening's being the one developed into a film. The script was re-written over a hundred times, and this creativity continued after animation had begun in 2006. The film was a box office success, and received overwhelmingly positive reviews.
The Simpsons eventually became the longest-running American sitcom, the longest-running American animated program, and in 2009 it surpassed Gunsmoke as the longest-running American primetime, scripted television series. Since its debut on December 17, 1989, the show has broadcast 639 episodes and its 29th season started airing on October 1, 2017.