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The Simpsons, the Only Real People on T.V.: Rolling Stone's 1990 Cover Story

A real-life profile of the cartoon family

February 23, 2011 1:54 PM ET
The Simpsons, the Only Real People on T.V.: Rolling Stone's 1990 Cover Story

The Simpsons exist! These people are orange. Their eyes are very large. They get by with eight fingers apiece. Their hair is, well, hair, though not in any recognizable sense. They're keen on pork chops. And their private lives are popular entertainment. The Simpsons do not understand this. Though they watch television incessantly, they do not know they have a show of their own. They know nothing of their cultural impact or their monumental importance to the Fox Broadcasting Company. They are unaware of the vast array of merchandise bearing their curious likenesses — air fresheners, for instance — nor are they able to ponder the unsettling implication of this. "We keep hearing there's some TV show based on us," says Homer Simpson, befuddled patriarch and doughnut enthusiast. "But I called all three networks, and they said we weren't on." And further: "I mean, I haven't seen any checks."

Photos: A History of Comedy Stars on the Cover of Rolling Stone

As such, the Simpsons live in ignorance. They receive their mail there. And that is where I recently found them. I arrived by bus (Homer's suggestion). He met me at the depot. He could not fathom why Rolling Stone would wish to visit with his family. He himself tries to avoid doing so whenever possible. Still, he seemed to welcome the attention. Homer is a man, it would turn out, who has spent his entire life being barely noticed. He feels this may be because he has never changed his shirt, but who can truly know for sure? At least there have been doughnuts to fill the void. His, then, is a world of honey-glazed despair.

This article appeared in the June 28, 1990 issue of Rolling Stone. The issue is available in the online archive.

Ah, Springfield! Now here is one redolent burg! Smell the burning tires! Smell the toxic waste! Everything you need, hemmed into a small parcel of nondescript acreage: mall, prison, dump site, nuclear power plant (where Homer works), Barney's New Bowlerama (where Homer plays). "Would you like to sleep in our house when you're in Springfield?" Homer asks me. "Because there's no room. So I don't know what we're gonna do if you want to sleep in our house."

Photos: The Simpsons

Homer needs fortification, numbness, beer. We stop off at Moe's Tavern. I order soda. Homer looks stunned. "Let's get this straight," he says, "you want not beer?" He insists we quaff the local brew, Duff beer (slogan: "You can't get enough of that wonderful Duff!"). To be sociable, Moe, the saloonkeep, sidles up and explains how his establishment got its name. "Moe's is not named after me," says Moe. "Everybody thinks that. I just thought Moe's was a good name. But I didn't think of it because I'm named Moe." Homer quickly changes the subject, invoking what is clearly a favorite conundrum: dry beer. "How can you drink it if it's dry?" he cries, over and over, a tad giddily. Much laughter ensues, and coughing spasms. Eventually, he tires of this.

"Now that you've had a few," he says finally, with steely resignation in his voice, "we can go home."

Beavis and Butt-Head, the Voice of a Generation: Rolling Stone's 1993 Cover Story

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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