4 Times ‘Simpsons’ Jokes Were Secretly Personal F-Yous
It’s no secret that The Simpsons is crammed full of snarky references to pop-culture icons, but few of these gags seem motivated by personal experiences as we doubt that Matt Groening ever had a beef with Orson Welles, and presumably, none of the writers ever feuded with the cast and crew of MacGyver. That being said, we did find a handful of jokes from The Simpsons that, upon closer examination, were inspired by real-life disputes and altercations, like how…
A ‘Ren & Stimpy’ Burn Only Came After Its Creator Knocked ‘The Simpsons’
The Simpsons lobbed a few insults at their fellow ‘90s animated brethren Ren & Stimpy over the years, most brutally, during a scene set at the Emmy Awards, when the clip presented for Ren & Stimpy’s Emmy-nominated season premiere was just a black screen with text reading: “CLIP NOT DONE YET.”
This was a reference to the cartoon’s famously troubled production — one of the major factors behind why Ren & Stimpy’s creator, John Kricfalusi, was fired from his own show by the network was because “the program’s delivery deadlines were not being met.” And the reason why The Simpsons’ writers unleashed this particularly harsh burn was seemingly because Kricfalusi had previously criticized their scripts, stating in an interview that the show “succeeded despite the writing.”
Clearly, no grudges were held, as Kricfalusi was later invited to helm a couch gag in 2011.
Of course, this was before everybody found out that he’s a giant piece of shit.
Poochie Was a Parody of a Real Note From Executives
Out of fears that The Itchy & Scratchy Show had become stagnant, chain-smoking executive Roger Meyers Jr. proposes introducing a new character to the series despite the dramaturgical dyad formed by the titular duo. The result is Poochie, the in-your-face, proactive doggie character who lasts for just one episode before his tragically fatal journey back to his home planet.
This entire storyline was inspired by a terrible suggestion made by real Fox executives who proposed that Simpsons writers could “introduce a new teenage member of the Simpsons family to attract new audiences.” Not only did the Simpsons team not take this note, they used it as inspiration for “The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show” insultingly attributing the idea to wildly clueless, creatively bankrupt entertainment executives.
As further meta salt in the wound, the episode explicitly played Fox’s suggestion for laughs by actually adding a hip new teen character to the Simpson family: Roy.
‘Two Bad Neighbors’ Was Specifically Written as a ‘Personal Attack’
One of the oddest premises of any Simpsons episode — up to including the time Coyote Johnny Cash guided Homer through a psychedelic Carlos Castaneda-inspired trip — was the one in which George H.W. Bush randomly moved onto Evergreen Terrace, just across from the Simpson family. “Two Bad Neighbors” found Homer and Bush locked in a bitter rivalry that was only resolved when the former president finally packed up and left.
In real life, The Simpsons playfully traded insults with Bush and his wife, Barbara, after the First Lady called the show the “dumbest” thing she’d ever seen, and the president trashed Homer and company in a speech. But even once the rancorous dust had seemingly settled, producer James L. Brooks had the opportunity to meet Barbara Bush at a White House event and, after cheerfully introducing himself, received a “drop dead, withering cold look.”
These events are why writer Bill Oakley conceived of the idea for “Two Bad Neighbors,” although the episode didn’t make it to the air until years after the feud. This is why fans were confused that the storyline, which lampoons a former U.S. president, largely avoided the subject of politics. That’s because, according to Oakley: “It’s not a political attack, it’s a personal attack.”
Justin Timberlake’s Limited Vocabulary Was Payback for Complaining About the Script
In “New Kids on the Blecch,” Bart and his friends form a boy band, inadvertently becoming pawns in an elaborate scheme to brainwash kids into joining the Navy (and destroy the offices of Mad Magazine). Along the way, the kids get to meet the members of NSYNC, including Justin Timberlake and all of the other guys whose names we totally remember.
You may recall that Timberlake repeatedly says “word” ad nauseam — but that wasn’t always the plan. Reportedly, Timberlake suffered a death in the family and wasn’t able to record with all the other NSYNCers. The script called for Timberlake to say “word” just one time, but when he showed up for the session, the 19-year-old star objected to the line because it “wasn’t a phrase he himself used.”
Timberlake was eventually convinced to record the line, but as payback for the aggravation, the Simpsons team re-used his line reading multiple times so that the Justin Timberlake character added “word” to the end of nearly every sentence. Actual footage of him saying “word” was even inserted into the closing credits.
No word on whether or not Timberlake cried himself a river as a result.
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