In season six, episode sixteen of The Simpsons, “Bart vs. Australia,” Bart calls collect to a young Australian boy to ask what direction his toilet flushes (clockwise, by the way) and is then involved in an international affairs crisis after racking up over $900 in long-distance charges. What ensues is not only a series of riffs about Australians vs. Americans, but a heartfelt and wonderful character journey for Bart and the rest of the family. There’s a reason that every other TV writer’s room today is all-too-familiar with the phrase, “The Simpsons did it.”
The Simpsons isn’t “high-concept” in the way that Rick & Morty or Adventure Time are “high-concept”. Instead, the writers have committed themselves to telling stories within the American middle class family, a premise that has shown to be full of endless possibilities for over 30 years, sans alternate universes.
The Simpsons writer’s room is a place I’d like to find myself one day. With an alumni list that consists of writers like Conan O’Brien and Mike Reiss (National Lampoon), that room has been home to the smartest storytellers of all time. The Simpsons have long-suffered from being pigeon-holed by critics as, “irreverent,” and I’ve always though that was unfair. The deep and solemn respect that the writers have shown for their premise and their audience for three decades and counting, proves that their writer’s room has always been full of nothing but reverence.