Review: Springfield Confidential: Jokes, Secrets, and Outright Lies from a Lifetime Writing for the Simpsons

Springfield Confidential takes a broad look at the authors' working years as The Simpson's writers, examining what makes the show popular, its early behind-the-scenes feud, its weird cast of creators, and some answers to pertinent questions fans love to ask.

WHO WOULD ENJOY READING IT?
Fans of the show would love the answers and clues shown here. For example, did you know Moe and Chief Wiggum were allegedly modelled after animals? A gorilla and pig respectively.

Also, aspiring creatives would find solace and wisdom in the authors' depiction of the world of writing and comedy, what it takes to do a great work and the pitfalls littered across its landscape.

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THE BOOK
The book confirmed my intuition about some creative issues that have troubled me for a while. The book reveals that a lot of great things about The Simpsons where not planned or strategised. For example, the "Moaning Lisa" episode cemented Lisa's personality as the conscience of the show. However, it was not planned to be that way and that episode almost ended up not being made.

Furthermore, the book teaches that there is no need to disrupt a good thing for the sake of change. The Simpsons has followed a specific formula since almost its beginning and it has worked a treat for them. More importantly, I learnt that bureaucracy is an enemy of good ideas.

MEMORABLE PASSAGE
In theory, The Simpsons is liberal to the point of anarchy, and Fox is conservative to the point of fascism. People always ask, why do they let us get away with it?

First off, The Simpsons came to Fox before there was a Fox News Channel. At the time, Fox’s reputation was daring and sexy. It was a perfect place for a show that could never have survived on any of the big three networks. Fox gave us immense freedom, and still does—they almost never question our content.

Why? Money. The people behind Fox are capitalists, and we bring in a lot of capital—$5 billion, by one estimate. (But no profit—I own 1 percent of The Simpsons’ profit, and to date I’ve never gotten a penny. Every fiscal quarter, Fox sends me a statement that reads, We’ve grossed five billion dollars, but our costs are five billion and eight dollars. You owe us eight cents. I am living proof that not all Jews have business savvy).

Springfield Confidential: Jokes, Secrets, and Outright Lies from a Lifetime Writing for the Simpsons by Mike Reiss and Mathew Kickstein is available in major online bookstores. Many thanks to Dey Street Books (HarperCollins) for review copy.

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