A cartoon pioneer walks us down his Memory Lane.
In 1988, an at-the-time extremely progressive, heavily funded Fox network asked Matt Groening and Sam Simon to create a cartoon. Not believing that the show would be a success, they wrote scripts that would please them rather than imaginary viewers. But The Simpsons became a hit and made their creation a 20th-century institution. Reiss (Santa's Eleven Months Off, 2007, etc.) joined the crew of writers after many rejections for other positions. The Simpsons was not his first choice. During this time, he worked closely with the two creators, learning nearly everything through them. “A writers’ room is a delicate thing—it’s not enough to be funny; you also have to get along with everyone,” he writes. “One irritating or obstinate writer can bring the entire machinery of a show to a halt.” The author breaks down his story just like he would organize an episode of the show: in three acts. He takes us from his early days in the writer’s room to his subsequent excessive weight gain as a devoted writer who paid little attention to self-care, the various failed and successful visits he made to campuses around the country to discuss the show, and the behind-the-scenes nitty-gritty of production. Interspersed throughout are “Burning Questions,” assumedly those that people have asked him over the years. Each time, Reiss provides both a question and answer that injects the text with entertaining humor. “The Simpsons thrives on human stupidity,” writes the author. “The dumber people get, the better our show is.” Always honest, playful, and engaging, the book will provide fans with deep insight into the show’s history but also into its daily production and future. Superfans might even be tempted to go back to the first episode and experience the show all over again.
A charming look at a cherished American show.