I wasn't allowed to watch The Simpsons growing up. It wasn't until I was 10 or so that my parents let my sister and I watch a single episode, and then only because they'd heard it had some kind of moral: "Bart learns a lesson," something along those lines. I remember the exact episode: "Radio Bart," season 3, episode 13. Aired in January 1992. I was so stoked to finally be able to watch the show, even if it meant the possibility of having to learn something. (I didn't learn anything.)
Anyway, I just watched The Simpsons for 24 hours straight. The last episode I made it through? "Radio Bart."
As you are probably aware, FXX is in the midst of a 12-day marathon of every single Simpsons episode ever, in chronological order. I mainlined the whole first day, 10 a.m. Thursday to 10 a.m. Friday. Bathroom breaks only, plus once I went downstairs to meet the pizza-delivery guy. It was a great idea at first!
SEASON 1, EPISODE 1
Thursday, 10:00 a.m. Let's do this.
10:10. The early animation is not as terrible as I remember; the voices are certainly different, especially Homer's, low and slow. The first episode is Christmas-themed, weirdly; Flanders has the best lights on the block. The first season isn't really funny, but at least he's involved.
10:22. This is the first apartment where I've had cable in three years, so I'm not up on my commercials. There's a Foot Locker ad that is attempting to humanize Scottie "No Tippin'" Pippen, which is apt, because my roommate's little dachshund rescue pup is named after him. The Scottie Pippen in my life is currently snoozing. Sheesh, he didn't even make it 22 minutes.
10:31. Shouts to FXX for running on the minute. I'm already sick of commercials, though, and have been nearly browbeaten into buying the new Madden.
10:45. Bart cheats in school and gets placed in a private school for young geniuses; a proud Homer resolves to spend more time with him. This idyll of milkshakes and games of catch is unlikely to last.
11:00. Bart's chalkboard writing in the opening credits isn't witty yet: Here, we get "I will not skateboard in the halls." Meanwhile, it's starting to get real toasty in my apartment. I'm going to have to remove my robe.
11:05. Ah, here's a commercial for the Simpsons/Family Guy crossover episode. Thankfully, Otto the Bus Driver has arrived to help us forget all about it.
11:25. The dog my roommate is watching (not Scottie Pippen, another one) just puked right in front of me on the living-room rug. I have no joke here. Not a lot of jokes in this episode, either.
11:40. I didn't even finish my bagel; dog puke kinda ruins everything. The dog's name is Wally. Thanks a lot, Wally.
11:45. Moe's bar looks totally different in the first season, and it takes you right out of the episode.
12:05 p.m. First Nelson sighting! It's always interested me how sometimes Bart is getting bullied, and sometimes he's the bully. It's the former for now.
12:12. I had planned on documenting good commercials, but they all suck. Diablo 3 looks scary and confusing; I'll probably just stick with Madden.
12:36. Most of these first episodes have included characters either eating or transporting cupcakes somewhere.
12:45. This is season one's first actually good episode, mostly thanks to Bleeding Gums Murphy; when Lisa first meets him, he's doing the "I Never Had an Italian Suit Blues."
1:09. At the beginning of this episode, Ned Flanders tells Homer he should buy something on credit, which is not very Flanders-like. It does lead to Homer buying an RV, though. I actually don't think I've ever seen this episode.
1:13. So many of the commercials are for video games. I wonder what the marathon's demographics actually are. High school and/or college kids home on summer break? Nominally adult stoner bruhs just waking up? Or 27-year-old men writing think pieces?
1:34. Boredom is setting in heavy: I'm cleaning a pair of white sneakers. Even Pippen is bored. Homer is watching football before church. How late is church in Springfield?
2:02. The family goes to the mall in this episode, which is always a good thing, if only because of the store names. The winner this time is "Girdles 'n' Such."
2:16. This is the first real emotional episode, as Homer fears Marge might be cheating on him. Just a hint of the heaviness to come.
2:40. I did not plan very well, and thus have very little food on hand for this endeavor. I'm eating the last of some hummus I have with tortilla chips. This is a sad living room right now.
2:44. FXX is now advertising Mike & Molly reruns, coming this fall. I wonder if they'll do a marathon for those.
2:50. This is another marital-strife episode, as Homer gets photographed dancing with a stripper at a bachelor party. Ten episodes in and this is already the heaviest cartoon ever.
3:05. Homer threw out his back after tripping over one of Bart's toys. I'm going to join him on the floor, actually.
3:10. Floor update: It's made my back feel pretty good, and then Scottie Pippen sauntered over and wouldn't stop licking my face.
3:35. This is the first big Krusty the Clown episode, wherein he's convicted of robbing the Quickie Mart. Bart sets out to prove Krusty's innocence, though, so probably nothing bad will ever happen to him again. Also, Sideshow Bob's robe kind of looks like mine, so I'm going to toss that bad boy back on. I feel like Pippen will appreciate it.
3:50. Arby's is running an ad about a sandwich that has all of their meats on it. I'm not hungry anymore!
4:00. In later seasons, Moe the bartender is always having an awful time with women. But here, he's giving Homer romantic advice. This'll end well.
4:12. Another Family Guy crossover commercial. It's so funny how this is happening now, given that in season six, they did a crossover with The Critic, and Matt Groening got so upset he wouldn't put his name on the episode. Shit done changed.
SEASON 2, EPISODE 1
4:33. Moving on from iced coffee to Diet Coke. Time to get JACKED. Season two starts with a bang: Martin is the first character you see.
4:45: It's too hot in my living room. Had to turn on the AC unit, lest I get too comfortable and slip into Nap Mode.
5:13. Just had my second toasted bagel with butter. Great planning on the food front, Luke.
5:15. I'm going to hop on Tinder for the first time in ages and try and invite a young lady over to watch with me. Also, Harvey Fierstein is a voice in this episode, and is a welcome addition to the nuclear power plant.
5:30. It's the first Treehouse of Horror episode, which is a nice change of pace from all the Homer/Bart stuff. I just did some jumping jacks to hopefully stave off couch sores.
6:02. I just got a jolt of energy, because maybe friends will come join me now that people's real jobs are letting out! No Tinder responses though.
6:16. A lot of firsts this episode: The family goes to the company picnic at Burns Manor, and we're also introduced to Eddie and Lou, a/k/a the cops. Itchy & Scratchy's big debut, too.
6:36. Moe's bar looks like Moe's now. Things are falling into place. It's also a baseball-related episode, which always pays off. I'm also starting to yearn for a new form of entertainment, though. The Cubs game that's on right now would suffice, though that's probably even more boring/depressing.
7:00. I've dipped into the caffeine again. I've been alone with the same media for way too long, and little things are starting to agitate me: too many people using "bae" on Twitter, for example. It's all gravy, though, because this is a Ned Flanders-heavy episode.
7:14. This new Sin City movie they're running ads for might be funnier than some of these early episodes.
7:20. Bart and Todd Flanders are having an intense mini-golf battle; I could definitely manage a hole-in-one on this course.
7:30. All the ads for Carl's Jr. are actually starting to look appetizing. It's the Texas BBQ Thickburger! THIS IS MY AMERICA.
7:35. This is a Thanksgiving episode, and one of the first legit funny ones: It amps up both the wit and the weirdness. As see the Thanksgiving Day Parade commentators:
Commentator 1: "Here comes our friend Bullwinkle!"
[Bullwinkle springs a leak.]
Commentator 2: "Looks like ol' Bullwinkle has gotten a taste of his own medicine! Did what I just said make sense?"
Commentator 1: "No, not really."
Commentator 2: "Oh boy, now I know how the pilgrims felt!"
7:47. My friend Dave just got off work and is bringing some Red Bull over. My spirits just rose by 43 percent.
7:50. Stamps.com has made it from podcasts to prime-time TV commercials. Movin' up!
8:05. Most of my friends are at an open bar. I'm starting to hate this show.
8:10. This is a really funny episode where they go to see monster trucks and Bart decides his life goal is to become a daredevil. I think I'll actually go see the new Sin City.
8:19. I'm doing a set of stretches now, out of both boredom and a genuine concern for my well-being.
8:30. DAVE IS HERE! He's got 12 beers and six Red Bulls for me. Dave the God! Dave the Young Lord! I love him. On to beer one. It's the champagne of beers, Miller High Life. Keeping it classy.
8:38: Best character voice of the first two seasons: Dr. Marvin Monroe. Meanwhile, Marge starts the organization S.N.U.H. (Springfieldians for Nonviolence, Understanding and Helping) after Maggie starts copying the violence depicted on Itchy & Scratchy. It's pronounced Snuh.
9:03. We have our first Phil Hartman-voiced character: the lawyer Lionel Hutz. RIP Phil Hartman. Also, the devil in this episode looks exactly like the robot devil in Futurama. Lazy Groening. Dr. Nick Riviera shows up in this episode, too! Big series turn right here.
9:15. Dave and I ordered a pizza. It's not on a bagel. I hope my body accepts it.
9:35. The pizza has arrived. This is the highlight of the marathon so far.
9:42. This is a very sad, tender episode, as Homer thinks he's dying and tries to get in time with everyone in his family before he goes. Relax, Homer: It's 2014, and you're not even canceled yet.
9:52. The pizza has slowed down the drinking, but Dave is pushing us on and grabbing another round. Homer wound up back at Moe's, so it seems appropriate.
10:01. It's the first McBain appearance! Here's a McBain supercut that seems like a real movie. It's awesome.
10:07. This is a flashback episode to when Homer and Marge go to the prom. One of my favorite lines so far is Marge rebuffing Barney's own advances: "I wouldn't go to prom with you if you were Elliot Gould!"
10:30. This episode is about stealing; I think I'll pirate a movie in solidarity. Draft Day it is!
10:48. I'm calling it at four beers as Dave abandons me. I'm alone again.
10:50. Tinder update: one response. They declined to join me. Oh, well. Maybe drinks next week!
11:05. This is the first episode where I'm just staring at the screen and don't know what's going on. My mind is starting to shut off. I think Homer is supposed to hook up Marge's sisters, Patty and Selma, with some dates? Either way, he did get to go to an all-you-can-eat BBQ buffet, which sounds lovely right about now.
11:16. One of my roommates has joined me—she's never seen the show before! Seriously! She was just never interested. She's already commented on being surprised at the emotional depth of it all. She's also been smoking weed.
11:41. My other roommate has been sick today, and has presumably been sleeping this whole time. I'm assuming hearing the theme song so frequently has been subconsciously soothing.
11:54: We have more McBain in this episode, and also a Dr. Hibbert sighting. He has a mustache, which is weird. Also, Danny Devito is voicing Homer's half-brother, and it's great, of course. They should've used DeVito more.
Friday, 12:06 a.m. My lids are getting heavy. Do your work, Red Bull.
12:11. We've a good storm cooking outside. Scottie Pippen is not into it.
12:22. Hibbert has lost the 'stache. What if I get loopy around 5 a.m. and attempt to recreate it on my own face? No, gotta push that thought out.
12:39. What if, when I finally fall asleep, I do a Rip Van Winkle deal and sleep for a crazily long time? Like I wake up, and The Simpsons is completely off the air?
12:48. Another nice stretch where I wasn't comprehending what I was watching. This is getting fun!
12:59. This is a really sad episode. Grampa falls in love with a lady at the retirement home, but she dies while he and Homer are locked in a Discount Lion Safari overnight. My pot-smoking roommate is not wrong re: the emotional heaviness.
1:07. They're going to Mt. Splashmore in this episode; I haven't been to a water park in so, so many years. Shout-out to Fairview Aquatic Center in Normal, Ill.
1:11. I just laid down on the couch. This could prove fatal, but stretching my legs out feels spectacular. I'm also hearing phantom text-message alerts.
1:31. Just saw a really weird Jack Links Beef Jerky commercial where a tiger came out of this guy's stomach. I should've stocked up on beef jerky.
1:42. This is a very good episode—Dustin Hoffman plays a substitute teacher. There's a beautiful Homer and Lisa moment at the end of the episode when he comforts her after Hoffman's character leaves town; things are getting mad emotional. "All of the special people to me are under this roof," Homer tells her. It's almost 2 a.m., and I'm welling up, and wouldn't mind talking to my dad right now.
2:02. It's crazy to see the graphics in these Madden commercials compared to the animation in these early Simpsons episodes. Technology!
2:07. Values.com is taking up a lot of ad space right about now.
2:22. Homer's voice is getting closer to Prime Homer voice. He's almost there.
2:33. We're close to season three, and on a run of great episodes. Bart is obsessed with getting the first issue of the Radioactive Man comic book: He also makes the frightening connection that Casper is the ghost of Richie Rich. I keep getting little pockets of energy, then get totally zapped. Soldiering on.
2:40. A giant Squishee from the Quickie Mart would be so choice right now.
3:07. Seven more hours seems like a Herculean feat. At least Mayor Quimby is around.
3:11. I'm starting this new move where I sit up, then lay down flat on the couch. It's a great leg stretch. At this hour, it's the little things keeping me going.
3:26. Another nice burst of energy from Red Bull no. 3 and the unveiling of Monty Burns' book Will There Ever Be a Rainbow.
SEASON 3, EPISODE 1
3:30. Season three has begun. Six and a half hours left. Survival Mode. Bars are still open for another 30 minutes in New York City. Somewhere close, someone is taking an ill-advised last shot.
3:36. Homer's voice as we know and love it has arrived! It's higher-pitched and goofier; previously, he'd sounded just plain stupid. This is making me very happy at this hour. He just got put in a mental asylum; Michael Jackson does some voice work.
3:39. Homer's asleep and mumbling, "Football … boobies …." Later, I'm going to dream about going to Moe's or something.
3:41. Nooooo! I haven't seen an ad for that Family Guy crossover travesty in a long time, and here it comes again, ruining all goodwill.
3:51. I just got heartburn. A new fun wrinkle in the night!
4:11. Mr. Burns never remembering meeting Homer never gets old.
4:32. A Flanders-centric plot is a godsend right now. The "Leftorium" episode! You can't fall asleep while you're laughing.
4:50. Red Bull does not mix well with heartburn.
5:00. Another Troy McClure sighting. This is very welcome. You may remember him from such films as The Revenge of Abe Lincoln.
5:14. I am here for this Gotham show coming to Fox this fall. Donal Logue is that dude.
5:16. Bart is working for the mob, which means we get Fat Tony, which means we get the incomparable Joe Mantegna.
5:20. Values.com has spent some cheddar. They have like four different commercials in rotation right now.
5:33. A fifth Values.com joint! It's not taking much to get me excited right now.
5:42. Bart didn't get invited to Milhouse's birthday party. Season three is where the show is really hitting its stride: They really start developing characters outside the Simpsons themselves.
5:54. I just caught myself staring at the wall at this art piece my roommate has hanging up with a bunch of little mirrors connected to each other. That was basically the last 10 minutes.
6:11. Here comes the sun.
6:17. Krusty keeps canceling dinner plans with the Simpson family; Bart writes him a letter that includes the phrase "get bent." I resolve to start using that more in my daily conversation.
6:27. I just ate the last of the pizza Dave and I got earlier. Hopefully it brings my heartburn back to keep my mind on something besides this show I once loved.
6:42. Another Treehouse of Horror episode. This one is going down rough. The short stories aren't cutting it. I need a longer narrative in my life!
6:50. "Get a mammogram, man!" is a t-shirt I'd actually wear.
7:02. My left eye keeps closing. Either it's giving up, or I had a stroke that I didn't notice.
7:20. Homer is working two jobs to pay for the pony he bought for Lisa. He's really tired. We are all Homer.
7:30. Troy McClure is back! You may remember him from such films as Buck Henderson: Union Buster and the television program Troy and Company's Summertime Smile Factory.
7:45. It would be nice if Dr. Nick could prescribe me an amphetamine.
8:00. An all-time great episode: "Flaming Moe's." Almost every line is a joke. Moe: "It's like there's a party in my mouth, and everyone is invited."
8:11. I'd like to think that whoever set off a car alarm outside my window was trying to help me stay awake.
8:24. Aerosmith performs "Walk This Way." The animators did a good job of translating Steven Tyler's plasticity to the small screen.
8:35. Homer sells his power plant stock before it goes way up.
8:45. Homer gets laid off. I feel you, dog.
9:03. My last hour! All these episodes just seem the same. Just yellow blobs speaking at me. This one's a flashback episode, with Homer telling the kids about he and Marge's wedding, Bart's birth, and his introduction to the nuclear power plant. Nice, but too cutesy.
9:18. I just got my last second wind. Also, my eyeballs are about to fall out of my head.
9:30. This is it. My last episode. A mere 47 episodes and 23 and a half hours down. Yep: "Radio Bart."
I didn't learn anything this time, either. Back then, I just wanted to be part of the conversation—to see what all the hubbub was about. Nearly two decades later, I'm definitely more attuned to this show's dark side. (The townspeople stop caring about the boy trapped in a well when they find out it's actually Bart. Damn.)
But watching these non-stop and in exact order, it's also finally clear to me that The Simpsons did not start out as a whip-smart comedy: The animation is clunky, the voice work a little clinical. But the show's huge heart was immediately apparent, and has in fact sustained this show for decades, and sustained me for the last 24 hours. I am going to need some time apart from Springfield and its inhabitants, however.
Friday, 10:00 a.m. I'm toast.
Luke McCormick advises you to eat his shorts. He is a writer living in Brooklyn and tweets as @LUKEmccorm.
Lead image by Jim Cooke.
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