The Simpsons and the Musical

By Chris Morgan (2008)

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By its nature, the musical has to be considered a niche genre. That is to say, it is highly unlikely for somebody to go see a musical unless they are a fan of the genre. This is most likely due to the fact that when people think of the musical, they think of integrated musicals, in which characters break into song and dance in the midst of the movie without heed or logic to it, and it can be very disorienting to man filmgoers. Additionally, these films cast aside narrative structure in favor of frills and pomp and elaborate song and dance numbers, which causes the genre to be derided by some. This leaves musicals for the most part on the margins of popular culture.

However, if there is one show that is an universal pop culture experience, it is The Simpsons having been on the air since 1989, it is one of the most successful and popular shows of all time. It is firmly engrained within our culture, not just in the world of entertainment, but spanning into almost all segments of life. Why this is prevalent on the topic of musicals is that The Simpsons has often references musicals within the show, including several episodes that serve as parodies of more well known Hollywood musicals. There is even an episode entitled “All Singing, All Dancing” which provides commentary on the nature of the musical itself and its place in popular culture. While The Simpsons has taken its shots at musicals from time to time, it has helped keep them in the collective conscious of society, even amongst those who are not fans of the genre, and an argument can be made that despite occasional satire of the genre, the show and its creators are certainly not anti-musical.

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