Five Jokes from the First Season of ‘The Simpsons’ You Now Need Wikipedia to Understand

Five Jokes from the First Season of ‘The Simpsons’ You Now Need Wikipedia to Understand

Let’s journey back to 1989 and 1990. Back then, the Game Boy was billed as the first handheld gaming system, Cheers was a top-rated sitcom and violently choking your son was an acceptable form of child-rearing. This was also when Season One of The Simpsons aired on Fox, and while the golden era of The Simpsons has aged better than most shows, there are some dated jokes in there that still may leave you scratching your head. 

Here are five gags from the show’s first season that are easier to understand with a tab for Wikipedia open on your phone…

‘Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Nixon, Comet, Cupid, Donna Dixon’

In the very first episode of the show, “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire,” Homer is training to become a mall Santa, and as he names the reindeer, he says, “Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Nixon, Comet, Cupid, Donna Dixon.” Most people probably still know who Nixon was, but Donna Dixon is a name that’s faded from the spotlight. She was Miss Virginia in 1976 and acted in the 1980s and 1990s. Her biggest credits were the Tom Hanks sitcom Bosom Buddies and Twilight Zone: The Movie, which she appeared in alongside Dan Aykroyd, her husband at the time.

‘Like Jane Goodall and the Chimps’

I hope people still know who Jane Goodall is, but if not, the 90-year-old primatologist is the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees. And back in 1989, she was definitely a household name. In The Simpsons’ second episode, Bart is mistaken for a genius after cheating on a test, but when genius school makes him miserable, he proposes an idea to the school psychologist for him to return to normal school to study all the “regular dumb kids.” The psychologist then compares this idea to Goodall studying chimpanzees, which is a pretty hilarious comparison for a school psychologist to make.

‘There Are No Good Wars’

After Bart and his army of bullied kids defeat Nelson, Bart offers the following disclaimer, “There are no good wars, with the following exceptions: The American Revolution, World War II and the Star Wars trilogy.” That last bit is probably the most dated joke in all of Season One as there are now three Star Wars trilogies and all of them are certainly not good.

International House of Answering Machines

When Homer forgets Marge’s birthday in “Life on the Fast Lane,” he rushes to the mall in search of a gift. If the concept of a shopping mall that isn’t abandoned isn’t dated enough, one of the stores Homer considers buying a gift from is the “International House of Answering Machines,” a device no one has needed for decades. 

‘Just Look at These Amusing Caricatures of Gore Vidal and Susan Sontag’

In “Krusty Gets Busted,” Krusty goes to jail for robbing the Kwik-E-Mart, and Bart and Lisa try to prove his innocence. As they gather evidence, Lisa points out that, although Krusty is illiterate, the security footage showed him reading The Springfield Review of Books. Later on, when Sideshow Bob has Bart on the kiddie show that he now hosts, Bart points out this piece of evidence. Sideshow Bob, who was in the process of framing Krusty, quickly replies, “You don’t have to be able to read to enjoy The Springfield Review of Books. Just look at these amusing caricatures of Gore Vidal and Susan Sontag.” 

Vidal and Sontag were American authors and intellectuals who, as of 2012 and 2004 respectively, are both dead. 

Back when “Krusty Gets Busted” aired in 1990, this joke was meant to demonstrate what an elitist Sideshow Bob was. Today, the joke is still elitist, but it’s also terribly dated, as is the idea of any sort of print magazine. Just ask Sylvester P. Smythe.

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