Lessons from The Simpsons Characters
Homer Simpson; First impressions are shallow
On the surface Homer Simpson is a buffoon. He is an insensitive spouse, an inept parent, and an incompetent worker. A close examination shows the shallowness of such judgments. Soon after graduating high school Homer impregnated his girlfriend and promptly married her. The nuclear power plant was the only employer in town that paid a new employee, who didn’t have a college degree, enough to support a family. Homer got a job at the nuclear power plant. He had no talent or interest in working at the power plant. There were other jobs better suited to his talents but fate[i] and family considerations[ii] prevented him from keeping any other job except the nuclear power plant job. Despite numerous temptations from beautiful women Homer has remained faithful to his spouse. He is devoted to his spouse and attempts to do whatever she asks of him.
[i] And Maggie Makes Three – In this episode Homer figures out he can make just enough money working at his dream job if everything stays just as it is. He quits his job and gets his job at the bowling alley. Then Marge becomes pregnant with Maggie and Homer has to go back to working at the nuclear power plant.
[ii] You Only Move Twice – In this episode Homer gets a supervisory position working for the Globex Corporation. He excels in this position but resigns because his family is unhappy.
Marge Simpson; Trying to improve your spouse is not being a good spouse.
On the surface Marge Simpson is a long suffering wife and a devoted mother. A close examination reveals she is a jealous, domineering, and judgmental woman. She never misses an opportunity to point out her husband’s faults[i]. Despite her lack of respect for him she gets angry anytime another woman gives him any attention. Her jealousy caused Homer to give up a lucrative career as a manager to a Country Western singer.[ii] Marge is not without faults. She has a gambling problem, has on occasion drank too much wine, and came close to having an affair with her bowling instructor.
[i] The War of the Simpsons – In this episode when asked Marge spends hours pointing out Homer’s faults. When it was Homer’s turn he said Marge was perfect.
[ii] Colonel Homer
Simpson; Acting intelligent makes people overlook many of your faults.
On the surface Lisa Simpson is a good, intelligent girl. A close examination reveals she is also mischievous[i], manipulative[ii], and rude[iii]. Because she gets good grades in school her misbehavior is largely overlooked. Is she truly intelligent[iv] or is her intelligence is simply a result of her reading and repeating what others have written?[v]
[i] Duffless – In this episode Lisa’s experiment for the science fair is to prove her brother Bart doesn’t have the intelligence of an average hamster. Bart won first prize at the science fair. Lisa complained about the outcome but Bart understood how to win while Lisa didn't
[ii] Million Dollar Abe – Abe becomes a matador and becomes popular. Lisa, who believes bullfighting “is a cruel pseudo-sport” plays on Abe’s emotions to get him to stop the bullfights.
[iii] Lisa’s Substitute – In this episode Lisa calls her father a “baboon”. Marge, true to character, chastises Homer.
[iv] They Saved Lisa’s Brain – In this episode Lisa and Springfield’s other smart people put themselves in charge of the city. They make a mess of things.
[v] Separate Vocations – In this episode Lisa takes a career aptitude test. The test results show she is best suited to be a homemaker.
Abe Simpson; Bitter people often have reason to be.
On the surface Abe Simpson is a feeble, bitter, old man. A close examination reveals all his life people have used and abused him. He had a faithless wife who deserted him and her son[i]. Abe’s son sent him to a retirement home two weeks after Abe put a down payment on Homer’s house.
[i] Mother Simpson
Ned Flanders; Casual or non-believers often dislike the devout for being devout.
On the surface Ned Flanders is a narrow minded Christian zealot. A close examination reveals him to be good natured and generous to a fault[i]. He often loans things to Homer which Homer never returns. While Ned has many definite opinions he doesn’t proselytize. He is an expert at turning the other cheek. Homer despises Ned.[ii]
[i] Bart’s Comet – In this episode a comet is headed for Springfield. The only person with a fallout shelter is Ned Flanders. In his kindness he lets everyone in the town inside his shelter. There is one person more than the shelter can hold so the rest of the town votes Ned out of the shelter. He willingly leaves.
[ii] When Flanders Failed – In this episode Ned Flanders opens a store. Homer hopes for his failure.
Montgomery Burns; Sometimes the old ways are the best ways.
On the surface Montgomery Burns is a greedy old man who is completely out of touch with modern times. This is largely true but it is shortsighted to dismiss him as a cruel fossil. Montgomery Burns owns and operates a nuclear power plant. His employees are mostly lazy and inept. Despite this he keeps the plant running and makes a large profit. Others who have tried to run the plant using modern business practices failed miserably.[i]
[i] Burns Verkaufen der Kraftwerk – In this episode a German company buys the power plant. They institute modern business practices and set out to follow the regulations for the operation of a nuclear facility. They soon discover running a nuclear plant this way is a financial disaster and sell the plant back to Mr. Burns.