Monday, July 7, 2014

Weekly Top 5: Underrated Simpsons Characters

The Simpsons are an institution. You be hard-pressed to find anyone that hasn't seen at least one episode of the show. What else would you expect from an animated sitcom that's still going strong after 25 years? I've been a diehard fan since the mid-90s, and even for people like me who grew up on the show but have stopped watching in recent years, the show still does gangbuster numbers. So for this week's top 5, I wanted to pay tribute to those characters that don't get as much love as they should. The show may be called The Simpsons, but for a long time the show has been more about the community of Springfield and the citizens therein. The only criteria for the list is that they have to be a regular character to the show, so no one-timers like Frank Grimes or Hank Scorpio, and trust me, there were dozens of other characters I thought about putting on this list, so this was not easy for me to do. So without further Apu, let's get started.

5. Kirk Van Houten

I could just sit here and tell you to go watch the episode "A Milhouse Divided" and that would explain what makes Kirk so funny. He usually only pops up once or twice a season, but when he does he almost certainly brings a laugh with him. You almost feel bad about laughing at him because the thing that makes him funny is the fact that he's just so pitiful, constantly on the receiving end his ex-wife's insults and never able to dig himself out of his hole.

4. Dr. Hibbert

One of Springfield's resident medical practitioners, and likely the only one who actually went to med school. He somehow finds humor in even the grimmest of situations, and a lot of the comedy he delivers come from his trademark laugh shortly after delivering some horribly bad news to his patients. It's likely that he was created as a tribute (or insult) to Bill Cosby, as the show was in competition with The Cosby Show at the time, and Dr. Hibbert (sort of like Dr. Huxtable) is a family man who occasionally wears outlandish sweaters.

3. Kent Brockman

Springfield's Channel 6 news anchor's humor is mostly brought on by him trying to buff up the news story ("The President dyes...his hair") to be more impressive than it is. But he's also a parody on the superstardom that comes with being a television personality. Brockman and Arnie Pie always play off of each other fantastically, and you can sense their disdain for each other. Kent's funniest moment is without question when he welcomes to the new alien ant overlords after some miscommunication with the space shuttle.

2. Ned Flanders

Ned and the rest of the Flanders clan may be a parody of the ultra-conservative, sheltered Christian family, but Ned is one of those characters that has grown on me as I've gotten older, and not just because of my faith. He's the perfect foil to his loud, obnoxious, overbearing neighbor, Homer Simpson. I think everyone has that person in their life like Ned Flanders, that person where no matter how much you try to dislike them, at the end of the day, you're glad you have them in your life.

1. Marge Simpson

Poor Marge, always having to clean up her husband's messes. The thing about Marge is that your heart really does go out to her, and you just wonder why exactly she hasn't left Homer yet. But at the same time, she can be really funny. Any time an episode is centered around Marge, it's almost always good, like the time joined the Springfield Police Force or when she decided to start lifting weights and started abusing steroids (note: I don't find steroid abuse funny...except in this case). Marge is the glue that holds the family together, and without her, the dynamic of the family, and essentially, the show itself, just wouldn't have held up for all these years.

So, do you think I missed someone? Yeah, I probably did. I wanted to put other characters like Disco Stu, Otto, Groundkeeper Willie, and Kearney on the list, but I found them to not be so underrated as the characters I listed.

Thanks for reading.


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