The Simpsons and the Use of Irony

When comparing the ideologies of irony by authors Kevin Dettmar and Carl Matheson, I noticed that their views are slightly similar but primarily differ.

When discussing the sitcom, “The Simpsons”, they both agree that the show is unique, but for different reasons. Matheson says “this density of allusions is perhaps what sets ‘The Simpsons’ most apart from any show that has preceded it,” (Matheson Pg. 253). Dettmar, on the other hand, says that “in a program that seeks to expose the foibles of our culture without flinching, irony is the obvious analytical choice,” (Dettmar Pg.

88). Matheson views the show as using allusions and quotationalism to deliver messages to their audience, whereas Dettmar views it as using irony to show the weaknesses of our culture. Another quote by Dettmar says “Running against the implicit logic of the sitcom, it relentlessly works to explore and exploit the gap between the American Dream and contemporary American reality,” (Dettmar Pg. 88). I agree more with the ideas of Dettmar because he does a far better job of explaining irony and making a clear connections with how it portrays contemporary culture in the U.


Ironic Scenes

In Simpsons episode “THE GREAT WIFE HOPE”, after the fight Homer tells Bart that he can’t fight at home and instead he should do it at school so that if he gets hurt they can sue the school. This statement that Homer tells Bart is in fact very ironic because what most would expect any parent to say is for them to not fight at all, especially at school, but Homer is not the average father and “The Simpsons” is above average when it comes to irony.

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This scene also exemplifies the “contemporary American reality,” (Dettmar Pg. 88) idea because in modern society everyone is out to try and sue some to get money to live a more comfortable life.

Another ironic scene that stood out to me is when Homer’s friends are at the bar watching Marge’s big fight and one of them says that all women do is talk a lot and eat bon-bons while watching General Hospital, and right after that he compliments the combo and takes out a box of bon-bons and starts eating them. While most would expect a man to say a stereotype about a woman like that, I’m sure viewers did not expect him to go back on his previously stated stereotype as he did.

The last scene I’ll touch on, is the man operating the fireworks in front of The Simpson’s house, says he has trouble concentrating and he should be on anti-depressants. This scene is not only portraying irony but it’s also another example of “contemporary American reality,” (Dettmar Pg. 88), by poking at the fact that some people think the pharmaceutical company’s and doctors, occasionally mis-prescribe their patients in our modern-day medical world.

Dettmar’s position on irony in The Simpson is much more plausible than Matheson as explained and proven by the evidence in my body paragraphs. The irony displayed in The Simpsons as well as South Park and Family Guy, is a delicate way for the writers to explain to their audience the difference between “The American Dream” and the American dream that we are actually living.

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The Simpsons and the Use of Irony
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