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Tag Archives: David X. Cohen
The Simpsons: “The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show” Is the Perfect Showbiz Satire with Just Enough Heart
In “Homer the Smithers” Mr. Burns apologizes to his mother for pulling the plug on her, adding “Who could have known you’d pull through and…live for another five decades.” There’s a similar vibe in “The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show,” an episode that seems to be contemplating a looming end to The Simpsons way back in Season 8, little realizing that the show would be renewed for twenty-two more seasons and counting. Showrunners Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein believed the series was winding down at the time, and true to that perspective, this episode seems to ask how much longer the show could reasonably continue until the network, the fans, and the creators themselves were simply too exhausted to go on.
As I discussed on The Simpsons Show Podcast, the irony of an episode devoted to that type of reflection airing less than a third of the way through The Simpsons’s run inevitably colors any look back at “I&S&P.” But the episode still works as an epitaph for the show’s classic years (with “Homer’s Enemy” serving as a coda) and presents a prescient view of the inherent difficulties that would make it harder and harder for The Simpsons to flourish as it aged, even before the quality of the show started to wane. And yet, what makes this installment of the show still so salient — despite the ways in which it both guessed wrong and eerily predicted The Simpsons’s future — is that it offers a universal satire of the issues that plague any long-running T.V. show, and of television as a whole.