The series is a satirical parody of the middle class American lifestyle, epitomized by a family with the same name, which consists of Homer, Bart, Lisa, Marge and Maggie. It is based on a mix of screwball political and social comedy and satire, all in an atmosphere of sharp sarcasm which disrespect the taboos of our modern society.
The show is set in the fictional town of Springfield and parodies American culture, society, television and many aspects of the human condition.
The Simpsons is widely considered to be one of the greatest television series of all time; in 1999 Time magazine named it the 20th century’s best television series and in 2000, the Simpsons family was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
It has won dozens of awards since its debut, including 27 Primetime Emmy Awards.
The cartoon is full of strong criticism about American TV, the Republican Party and in particular about former Presidents Bush and Clinton; there is also a critical vein against Fox (the network producer) and against the controversial billionaire owner Rupert Murdock. Over the years, episodes have been dedicated to famous personalities of the star system like U2, Britney Spears, the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney.
One of the most important themes that the Simpsons address is politics.
It is a common theme in this animated television series and this phenomenon has some crossover with real American politics; US conservatives voiced opposition to the show early in its run, when it was still controversial for its crude humor and irreverent take on family values.
Political topics addressed on The Simpsons include homophobia and gay marriage, immigration and border control, drugs and alcohol abuse, gun rights, environmental issues, election campaigns and corruption.
Former US President George W. Bush has always criticized The Simpsons, saying that Americans need to believe in family and real values. These remarks led to a series of jokes focused on Bush, his politics and his family.
Due to controversial issues, the series has been censored by broadcasters and by governments of foreign countries; Fox has never adopted censorship policies on the cartoon, although on several occasions, the producers have asked Matt Groening to cut certain dialogues before the airing of the episode.
The show was censored in Britain, Venezuela, Argentina and was banned in Russia and China; in Japan, the last episode of the tenth season, entitled “From Tokyo with horror” was never aired, due to the comic portrait of some icons and holy figures, like Emperor Akihito. Moreover, this episode is not in the local DVD edition of the tenth season.
In Italy, in contrast to what happened to other American cartoons such as South Park, Family Guy and American Dad, the series has not suffered censorship, even if the dialogues were lightened.