Thanks to ‘The Simpsons,’ Some Fans Really Thought Fabergé Eggs Were a Drug Thing

Bleeding Gums Murphy’s chosen vice wasn’t mentioned once during the D.A.R.E. assembly
Thanks to ‘The Simpsons,’ Some Fans Really Thought Fabergé Eggs Were a Drug Thing

Like so many tragic jazz cats before him, Bleeding Gums Murphy had an expensive habit that was hard to kick, but it wasn’t hard drugs any more than it was hard-boiled.

While watching The Simpsons, it can often be easy to forget that, at its core, the show is a family affair, and, as such, Matt Groening and his writers generally try to keep most episodes TV-PG. Sure, there are dirty jokes here and there. Yes, there’s an occasional curse word. And, of course, one of the most beloved, quoted and GIF’d episodes takes place almost entirely inside a burlesque house. But at the end of the day, Bart and Lisa are 10 and 7 years old respectively, so their antics have to at least partially play to a pre-pubescent audience — unlike the real-life biographies of just about any jazz legend, living or dead.

Lisa’s musical mentor, who first appeared in the Season One episode “Moaning Lisa,” was meant to be both a parody and a pastiche of all the troubled jazz icons who came before him. Specifically, Bleeding Gums Murphy was based on the 93-years-old and still kicking saxophonist Sonny Rollins, who struggled with heroin addiction throughout his early career. However, early in The Simpsons 35 seasons-and-counting run, heroin probably wasn’t going to play well on a Fox sitcom, so The Simpsons swapped out so many jazz musicians’ drug of choice with an addiction to buying bejeweled Fabergé eggs for Bleeding Gums Murphy’s destructive vice. 

Over in The Simpsons subreddit, one fan recently admitted that the family-friendly joke flew over their young head, asking, “Am I the only one who thought for the longest time that Fabergé eggs were some sort of drug?”

Its easy to see why Bleeding Gums Murphys whirlwind backstory in the Season Six episode “'Round Springfield” could have confused younger viewers in 1995. At the time, D.A.R.E. was at its peak, and schools across the country still thought that the best way to scare kids off of hard drugs was to make them seem as extreme and dramatic as possible. Seeing a slumped-over musician surrounded by foreign-looking objects in a dark alleyway was effective shorthand for drugs to a generation of kids who grew up watching horrifying deflated corpses on TV, and even the “egg” part of Fabergé egg had a whole word association thing going for it.

The average child in the 1990s had little-to-no knowledge of the history of the House of Fabergé or the legendary ornate Easter eggs they gifted to the royal family of Russia in the late 1800s, but they did know that musicians and drugs went together better than the peanut butter and jelly filling of Uncrustables. They also probably thought that this Steve Allen guy was some sort of creep — god knows what kind of recipes were in that cookbook.


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