The Simpsons Shorts Just Keep Getting Worse
At a certain point, I have to blame myself. The Simpsons shorts just aren’t good, and it’s on me for getting my hopes up. Prior to the recent double header, the last short was a Billie Eilish vehicle, and while it had a couple of chuckles, it seemed wasted as a short. The Loki crossover which preceded it was, in my mind, the worst thing The Simpsons have ever put out. I know you all think The Simpsons is trash these days, but I also know you don’t watch it anymore. It wobbled in the mid-20 seasons, and it’s not Golden Age quality anymore, but it’s not the garbage it’s often dismissed as. Unfortunately, The Simpsons shorts are every inch as terrible as The Simpsons episodes that exist in your mind.
I’m not saying this to tear down The Simpsons, although I would love them to stop making the shorts. I’m a major Simpsons fan. I’ve seen every episode, and every episode bar the new season at least twice, while my viewing counters for seasons 1-15 are in double figures. I love this show, and I hate seeing it used as a marionette this way. It’s not as good as it once was, sure. But it was once the greatest show in television history. Season Eight can go against any season anywhere. It’s a punishingly high standard to hold it up against. The shorts, though, have no standards. And I have no idea why I’m still being subjected to them.
Our most recent short is called Welcome to the Club, wherein Lisa teams up with some classic Disney villains. Stupid emotional obsessive little me, I got my hopes up. I love the Disney villains, and I thought this might be an interrogation of how Lisa has gradually shifted from the family’s moral compass to the show’s antagonist, often existing only as a roadblock to the schemes of Homer or Bart. Instead Lisa sings a silly song, Kevin Michael Richardson voices Captain Hook with a ridiculously deep baritone, and the credits roll. Another entirely pointless venture that wastes what might have been a good idea. Even as a Treehouse short, which are desperately hit and miss these days, this might have had a chance. Instead the idea is wasted as a short that serves nobody aside from probably getting some curiosity clicks for Disney Plus.
I should have seen the writing on the wall with the last short, Plusaversary. Another Disney crossover, it was basically just a four minute advert for Disney Plus, which you could only watch by getting Disney Plus. Why are you advertising this thing I already have? It’s like going to the cinema and the trailers all showing the movie you just paid to see. It’s like the waiter recommending the spaghetti while you’re midway through twirling it onto your fork. Bart plays Mickey Mouse, reprising his satire from The Simpsons Movie, but is that really what passes for entertainment these days? Woozle wozzle?
It’s worth remembering that things weren’t always this way. The very first short, a wordless adventure of animation centred on Maggie and her pursuit of a butterfly, was nominated for an Oscar. However, things have gone sharply downhill since Maggie Simpson in The Longest Daycare. Its direct sequel, Maggie Simpson in Playdate With Destiny, showed the dangers of trying the same trick twice. The threequel was just The Longest Daycare again but with Star Wars, and since then every short has been a crossover. As well as Billie Eilish and Loki, Bad Bunny got in on the act before the two shorts that are just Disney.
The Simpsons is still actively on the air, pulling in solid viewing figures, and the most recent season has not been added to Disney Plus despite the finale airing in early June. There are better ways to support the show than to have it churn out shorts, but I’m not sure Disney wants to support the show. It wants to use the brand.
The Simpsons shorts are the most promoted Simpsons content these days, and it’s a shame that Disney is content with turning The Simpsons into something you’d see on Quibi rather than backing its late revival more. Season 33 will finally hit Disney Plus this month, but its doubtful it will be featured in the Disney emails, splashed across the front pages, or used in promoted social media posts like Welcome to the Club. It’s not enough that people think The Simpsons is trash these days, Disney seems determined to prove them right by only showing them the worst the show has to offer.
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