HOLLYWEIRD, CA ---- The Simpletons is an animated situation comedy created by Matt Groaning for the Crazy-Like-a-Fox Broadcasting Company.
The supposedly satirical series focuses on the Simpleton family, Homo, Barge, Barf, Pizza, and Maggot, who live in Stinkfield. Supposedly, the show parodies American culture, the middle class, suburbia, society, television, radio, democracy, capitalism, the Internet, newspapers, the arts, toiletries, the "human condition," and what-not.
Groaning says he was inspired by his own dysfunctional family, after whom he named the series' characters, except for Barf, whose name substitutes for his own, because he doesn't mind representing his parents and siblings as complete asses, but he doesn't want to be known as one himself.
The series has become so popular that a full-length motion picture, The Simpletons Movie, was released worldwide in 2007, grossing just short of $530 million. Groaning attributes the film's success to the shots it includes of Barf's bare buttocks, gratuitous nudity that garnered the movie an NC-17 rating.
Time magazine's editors were so impressed with the program that they declared Barf its "Person of the Year" for 1989-2016.
The series has earned various awards, including 31 Primetime Enemas, 30 Fannies, and a Peebody. The Simpletons also has its own star on the Hollyweird Walk of Shame.
Homo, the clan's father figure, works as a safety inspector at a nuclear power plant that has experienced 120 meltdowns since the series began. His wife Barge, who sports a lavender Afro and a perpetual frown, is an unappreciated housewife who is often the victim of Homo's misogynistic, sexist, patriarchal chauvinism. Barf is a pest; Pizza is a member of the topless protest group Mammaries; and Maggot is a baby with a pacifier. A pet canine, Santa's Little Hellion, and a pet feline, Snowballer, round out the family, who are supported by supporting characters even more annoying than the Simpletons themselves (if that's possible).
Stinkfield is sometimes a suburbs, but it has also been a coast, a desert, a farm, mountains, and a gigantic penis. "It's whatever the script calls for," Groaning admitted.
Although Conan "The Barbarian" O'Brien and fifteen other writers tried to make the series funny, since it bills itself as a sitcom, The Simpletons is considered "mainstream trash" by most critics and viewers.
It's juvenile humor is evident in its episodes' titles, which strain, like a constipated person, to get a laugh based on such asinine puns as "Homo the Whopper," a reference to the size of Homo's "endowment," and "Homo Simpleton, This Is Your Wife," a not-so-veiled reference to Barge.
By 2017, the show was so bad its writers went on strike.
Since the characters are cartoons, live actors "contribute" their voices. Retired U. S. Senator Hairy Reed voices Homo; Senator Nanny Pelosi speaks out for Barge; former child actor Danny Bonnydouche utters Barf's lines; Minnie Mouse squeaks Pizza's dialogue; and Arnold the Pig, of Green Acres fame, voices Maggot's pacifier.
The voice "actors" let their roles go to their heads, demanding greater and greater salaries as The Simpletons continued, beyond all expectations, to air. By 2008, they'd extorted Crazy-Like-a-Fox out of $400,000 each, per episode.
But, in 2011, the network threatened to shut down the show unless the "actors" took a 30 percent pay cut, which they were only too glad to do to save their jobs. After all, there isn't much demand, even in Hollyweird, for voice "actors," and they were lucky to be working at all.
Krusty the Klown was The Simpletons' main animator, and he set the tone, unfortunately, for the series' style, such as it is, in creating such unforgettable episodes as "Tennis the Menace" and "Liquor in the Front, Parking in the Rear." Groaning calls Klown a "genius," because Klown is able to animate the series without the benefit of tracing paper, talent, storyboards or, for that matter, even a story.
The Simpletons' parody, satire, and wit are largely discernible in the show's mischaracterization of government and corporations as mean and manipulative, of politicians as greedy, and of clergy as self-righteous and smug.
The series is also known for its humorous one-liners and brilliant dialogue, examples of which include Homo's "D'oh" and Barf's "Eat my shorts."
Pop culture critics say The Simpletons is the best thing since Shakespearean comedy, and the series' catchphrases have replaced the bard and the Bible as America's go-to source of idioms, citing such Simpletons gems as "meh" and "craptacular."
The Simpletons' success has spawned imitators, and American airwaves have become clogged with such fare as South Barf, Familiar Guy, Run of the Mill, and Futanari. Some episodes of these series include crossovers, with Barf visiting a Futanari character or Familiar Guy appearing on Run of the Mill.
Viewership reached its highest level in 1997-1998, when the voice "actors" were being paid $125,000 each, per episode, and sank to its lowest level in 2015-2016, when the "actors" received $300,000 each, per episode.
"You can't save a sinking show by throwing money at it," Groaning griped, "especially when the reason the damned thing's sinking is its actors' bad acting."
Barf's behavior has been criticized by some, including Bill Cosby and President (at the time) George H. W. Bush. Cosby said Barf is a "bad role model for children," because Barf is "confused, frustrated, and horny," and Bush complained, "He reminds me of my son, W."
China ordered the show off the air, saying its own animators could do better, and Venezuela ruled it "unfit for children of all ages." Comedians called its humor "tired," "stupid," and "adolescent," rather than "smart, sophisticated, and witty."
"It's definitely a parody," one comic declared. "Unfortunately, it parodies itself."
Groaning vowed to inflict The Simpletons on America as long as viewers continue to view his "dreck." "Knowing the intellectual caliber of my audience, I anticipate it will go on forever," he boasted.