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Were Still Relevant Dammit / The Simpsons

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A common complaint about the newer seasons is their over-reliance on using current events and pop-culture for laughs a la South Park and Family Guy, such as Mr. Burns' endorsement of Mitt Romney for President in 2012. Making things worse, these references tend to be dated the first time they appear on the show (some of these can be chalked up to Animation Lead Time, others not so much). Anvilicious political commentary has also become more common, almost all of it bashing Republicans:


  • Walter White and Jesse Pinkman made a live-action appearance at the end of the couch gag for Season 24's "What Animated Women Want", which aired in April 2013, a few months before the other show ended.
  • This trope is blatant in season 15's "Co-Dependent's Day" when the family goes to see Cosmic Wars: Episode I, and it's a parody of the disappointment of Episode I, complete with an obvious Jar-Jar Binks potshot in Jim-Jam Bonks. It would've been relevant in 1999 or 2000, but this episode was released in 2004. It also creates a Celebrity Paradox because Star Wars has been referenced by name dozens of times, and parodied.
  • In season 17's "See Homer Run", they did a parody of the California 2003 recall election... in 2005. It wasn't just a throwaway gag, it was the plot of the whole episode.
  • "Gorgeous Grampa" parodies Storage Wars and has Bart wearing shutter shades.
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  • "Politically Inept, with Homer Simpson", a 2012 episode whose plot is a Take That! at Glenn Beck's Fox News show... which had been cancelled the previous summer (not to mention the fact that South Park had done essentially the same thing in fall 2009, when Beck's show was generating far more buzz, and The Daily Show had done so repeatedly since November of 2009.)
  • Newer Treehouse of Horror episodes have become this as the pop culture they parody are already a few years old and spoofed into oblivion. "Treehouse of Horror XXIII" which aired in 2012 and spoofed Paranormal Activity, which was released in 2009 and "Treehouse of Horror XXII", aired in 2011 and spoofing Avatar, which was also released to theatres in 2009 come to mind.
  • "The Computer Wore Menace Shoes" was an episode from 2000 about Homer discovering the Internet and using it to start a gossip page. This came maybe 2 or 3 years after the Internet had become mainstream, and a solid decade after computers.
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  • The Season 25 premiere, "Homerland", is a full episode parody of Homeland.
  • From season 25, Homer sings about "swag", of all things. While it's supposed to be a parody of older people trying to prove they are still relevant, it didn't quite have the result the creators were probably hoping for.
  • Season 25 also had an episode simply titled "YOLO", which aired in November 2013, long after "YOLO" stopped being relevant.
  • The season 25 episode "You Don't Have to Live Like a Referee" features a parody of Jared Fogle from the Subway commercials. Jared was in his prime in the early 2000s and hadn't been prominently featured in advertising since 2008 - six years before the episode aired. This has now crossed the line into Funny Aneurysm territory due to Fogle's 2015 arrest for numerous pedophilia-related charges.
  • Artie Ziff going broke in "The Ziff Who Came to Dinner" is a parody of the Enron scandal, down to the crooked Z statue, which had happened two years prior.
  • Take any recent episode and there's bound to be at least one or two forced jokes per episode about smartphones. One particular example is "Looking for Mr. Goodbart" focusing on a Pokémon GO parody almost months after Go was extremely relevant;note  it also included a parody of the Pokemon anime's opening songnote  with what was supposed to be animesque art, but it looks more like a western-produced "How To Draw Manga" book.
  • In season 27, Smithers was made 100% gay (as in, not only in love with Mr. Burns) to cash in on the gay rights craze. Some otherwise progressive critics criticized this move, as it was obviously solely done to win the series PC points in light of its heavily decayed quality.
  • The ubiquitous celebrity cameos are commonly viewed as this. They were rare during the program's early years, usually confined to older well-known celebrities appearing as themselves, with younger ones usually voicing a one-time character. Since the late 1990s, celebrity cameos have become one of the show's major draws (or drawbacks, depending on your attitude). The most egregious example is "When You Dish Upon a Star" in which Alec Baldwin, Kim Basinger and Ron Howard (none of whom are known for being comic performers) get an episode whose entire plot revolved around them.
  • "Radio Bart" was clearly inspired by the media circus that surrounded toddler Jessica McClure when she was trapped in a well (though the episode itself is mostly a parody of Ace in the Hole).
  • In the eighth-season finale, "The Secret War of Lisa Simpson", Lisa decides to apply to the military school Bart's been sent to, which had previously not allowed girls. Anyone watching at the time could see it was clearly inspired by Shannon Faulkner's real-life struggle to be admitted to the Citadel military college in South Carolina.
  • "New Kids on the Blecch" in which *NSYNC had a guest appearance. Painfully outdated now, seeing that this boy band quit only a year later and is now mostly remembered as "that forgettable band Justin Timberlake once was part of" or as Backstreet Boys rival.
  • The 302nd episode, Season 14's "Barting Over"note , contained a fawning cameo by Tony Hawk and a briefer one by blink-182, both of whom were really big at the time (2003) but wouldn't be for very long, especially Blink-182, who broke up in the mid-2000s. Tony Hawk's dialogue in particular may cross over into Totally Radical. There's also the reason why Homer blew Bart's commercial money: to buy back incriminating photos of him nearly dropping his child over a balcony like Michael Jackson did in late 2002. Originally, Homer was supposed to blow the money on a star in the sky that went supernova, but the writers at the last minute changed it into something more current (which would serve as little more than a pop culture footnote years later).
  • "MyPods and Boomsticks" was filled to the brim with jabs at Apple and Steve Jobs (Mapple and Steve Mobs in the show) and it was obvious the writers weren't very familiar with them. This was carried over to the episode where Homer gets a MyPad and thinks Steve Mobs is contacting him from beyond the grave. note 
  • The opening to "To Surveil with Love" in which the entire Springfield populace lip syncs to Kesha's "TiK ToK" was an obvious attempt at pandering to a younger demographic (though this was done as part of a gimmicky stunt called "FOX Rocks" where FOX cobbles up musical moments from their Animation Domination shows, which is why the very serious Family Guy episode "Brian & Stewie" had a clip show of musical moments tacked on it). Many older fans growled at this unnecessary attempt to be hip.
  • "The D'oh-cial Network": It had loads of references to Facebook (the episode was even a parody of The Social Network), Twitter, Apple products, and stores that had recently gone out of business as of 2011. It also ended with an Anvilicious Aesop about not depending on technology. It doesn't help that the scenes ostensibly parodying The Social Network show little evidence that the writers even saw the movie. That the episode prominently features Creep by Radiohead, which was featured in the trailer but not the actual film, reinforces this impression.
  • One episode even lampshaded this with Itchy and Scratchy doing a Black Swan parody, with Krusty commenting on how the parody was considered current at the time it was written.
  • Fall Out Boy performed the ending theme songs as guests on an episode that aired in 2009.
  • "Lisa Goes Gaga" (the episode focusing on Lady Gaga's guest appearance) — much like the Ke$ha couch gag from "To Surveil With Love" and all of "The D'oh-cial Network" — played out like a Simpsons-Lady Gaga crossover fanfiction. While there have other episodes where the celebrity guest was central to the plot rather than a brief cameo, this was essentially a twenty-minute tribute to Gaga, which may have been great for her fans, but not to anyone else. The episode rehashed a lot of jokes about Lady Gaga that have been done before (and done better elsewhere) and received some backlash from fans.
  • A surprisingly quick example comes from the Couch Gag to "Gorgeous Grampa" which has the cast do the Harlem Shake.
  • "Whiskey Business" continues the trend with references to the Occupy Wall Street pepper spray cop and the Tupac Shakur hologram.
  • "Beware My Cheating Bart" had a subplot where Homer, intending to exercise, buys a treadmill that has streaming video built in. He soon becomes wrapped up in watching episodes of Stranded, a blatant Lost parody, keeping notebooks full of clues and plot points from each episode. The episode first aired in 2012, two years after Lost went off the air. However, Marge does point out that Homer is watching a series that is several years old and treating it like a current event.
  • Season 27's "Barthood" is a parody of Boyhood a few years after the film came out.
  • One Halloween episode had a scene where incarnations of the characters appeared referencing popular, contemporary anime and cartoon characters. This included Lisa as Mikasa from Attack on Titan, Bart as the titular protagonist of Naruto, Maggie as Pikachu from Pokémon, Marge as Rangiku from Bleach, Homer as Zoro from One Piece, everyone as South Park characters, everyone as Minions from Despicable Me, and everyone as Adventure Time characters. At least the joke has Lisa explaining the characters as spinoff characters created by an "evil marketing entity".
  • The Fox Animation YouTube channel posted a video where Homer plays Pokémon GO. While it recycles animation from an older episode with minor edits and new voice clips, it still applies.
  • Season 20's "How the Test Was Won" has Principal Skinner make a threat that references the famous "Got any grapes?" line from "The Duck Song". Unlike most examples here, it does fit the time zone of 2009 (the episode's release date). However, it seems rather painful after the song became irrelevant in 2012 or so.
  • A theme song in Season 29 depicts Maggie holding some Szechuan Sauce in a reference to the item's increase in popularity after Rick and Morty brought it back into the public eye.
  • Season 30's "Heartbreak Hotel" not only features a storyline based around Homer and Marge taking place in The Amazing Race, a near decade after it had reached its popularity peak, but also has an entire sequence where Marge and the rest of her family refers to her as a n00b for messing it up. Naturally, not only does it not apply in this context,note  the entire sequence reeks of the writers attempting to seem up to date on internet slang... despite said slang itself having long since started falling out of use since The New '10s.
  • Season 30's "Bart vs Itchy & Scratchy" attempts to cover the controversy of the 2016 all-female Ghostbusters reboot with a female Itchy & Scratchy, three years after that controversy. Throwing it aside for Bart joining a parody of Pussy Riot.
  • Season 30's"E My Sports" involves Homer coaching Bart to be an e-sports player.
  • "I'm Just A Girl Who Can't Say D'oh" is inspired by Hamilton, which was released four years prior. This is more of a downplayed example as this play continues to be extremely popular within the musical theater fandom, as well as outside of it.
    • The same episode has Bart flossing while mocking Lisa, a dance repopularised by Fortnite in early 2018. The episode aired in April the next year. However this one ends up slightly subverted. While the game is still insanely popular and profitable, Hype Backlash has caused a slight decrease in popularity.


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