It’s almost universally agreed that the golden age of The Simpsons spans from Seasons 3 to 9. I personally have an issue with this adage for two reasons. One, perhaps slightly controversially, I actually think the drop in quality occurred somewhere in Season 8. Two, it seems to unfairly miss out on the greats that are scattered within the show’s second season - “Lisa’s Substitute”, “Homer vs Lisa and the 8th Commandment” and this stone-cold classic.
Rather than centering on the show’s then-breakout star Bart, or indeed any of the Simpson brood, “Two Cars…” focuses its attention on secondary character Mr Burns and his run for political office after his nuclear plant is involved in a scandal involving his plant’s atrocious environmental record. For a program only on it’s 17th episode, it’s fair to say this was a ballsy move. It pays off big time - while the episode is as laugh-out-loud funny as you’d expect from classic Simpsons, it also acts as a sharp satire of the more absurd aspects of American politics, in particular the media frenzy that drives it. Fast forward to 2016, as the rest of the world watch gobsmacked at the current Trump v Clinton circus, this episode’s message is more relevant than ever.
What makes “Two Cars…” a defining episode for the long-running show is that it points to how the show transformed - what had been a mildly subversive but cosy family sitcom had broadened its scope to lampooning the world around them. It’s ambitious, intelligent and hasn’t been topped by any of its animated rivals. And on that note, I’ll hand over to Mr Burns for the final thoughts.
"Ironic, isn't it, Smithers. This anonymous clan of slack-jawed troglodytes has cost me the election, and yet if I were to have them killed, I would be the one to go to jail. That's democracy for you."
Agree with this list, or do you have a different episode that turned a show into a classic? Share your thoughts down in the comments.