'The Simpsons' Marks 30 Years On Air For 30 years Bart, Marge, Homer, Lisa, Maggie and the other citizens of Springfield have entertained people around the world. The Simpsons also created a path for many other animated sitcoms.
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30 Years Later, 'The Simpsons' Are A Part Of The American Family

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30 Years Later, 'The Simpsons' Are A Part Of The American Family

30 Years Later, 'The Simpsons' Are A Part Of The American Family

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Thirty years ago today, TV watchers met one of America's most enduring families, "The Simpsons."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE TRACEY ULLMAN SHOW")

JULIE KAVNER: (As Marge Simpson) Hold on, all of you. There's no need to slurp your soup so loudly.

DAN CASTELLANETA: (As Homer Simpson) She's right, you little slobs.

KAVENER: (As Marge Simpson) Let's try a little dignity around here.

NANCY CARTWRIGHT: (As Bart Simpson) Okie dokie, Mom.

(SOUNDBITE OF GULPING)

INSKEEP: Marge, Homer, Bart, Lisa, Maggie - "The Simpsons" began their existence just filling time. They appeared in 48 little filler segments on the sketch comedy program "The Tracey Ullman Show." And they were different from "The Simpsons" we know today.

MAUREEN FURNISS: At first, they were what we call bumpers that went between "The Tracey Ullman Show" and the commercial break.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

That is Maureen Furniss. She teaches animation at the California Institute of the Arts. We were talking to her on Skype.

FURNISS: "The Simpsons" were very quick little segments that were united by some particular theme. One that stands out in my mind is the burping contest. The kids are drinking sodas and belching. And poor Marge is trying to get them to stop.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE TRACEY ULLMAN SHOW")

KAVENER: (As Marge Simpson) Bart, are you burping again?

CARTWRIGHT: (As Bart Simpson) Maybe.

KAVENER: (As Marge Simpson) What is it with this burping?

YEARDLEY SMITH: (As Lisa Simpson) It's fun.

KAVENER: (As Marge Simpson) I absolutely forbid burping in this household.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOOR CLOSING)

CASTELLANETA: (As Homer Simpson) How's it going, everybody?

(SOUNDBITE OF BURP)

CASTELLANETA: (As Homer Simpson) Oops, pardon my French (laughing).

GREENE: No, Steve, stop. We are not having a burping contest in here. Now, the animation back then...

INSKEEP: (Laughter) When the microphone is off...

GREENE: Yeah, the animation way back then, it was cruder than it would become. The characters - I mean, they almost looked scribbled. They were the creation of a newspaper cartoonist Matt Groening. His comic strip "Life in Hell" featured a neurotic rabbit, his illegitimate son and their gay friends.

FURNISS: Everybody was very eager to see what Matt Groening was going to do with animation. And "The Simpsons" made a new bar for TV animation, especially things that were much more crude humor. When "The Simpsons" came out, people were so worried about the crude behavior. But they didn't, you know, have any idea that things like "South Park" or "Beavis And Butt-Head" were on the horizon and would be much more outrageous in a lot of ways.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE TRACEY ULLMAN SHOW")

CARTWRIGHT: (As Bart Simpson) Don't shove Maggie. She's just a little baby.

CASTELLANETA: (As Homer Simpson) Don't hit your little sister. She's a girl.

(As Grampa Simpson) Keep your hands off him, Homer.

CARTWRIGHT: (As Bart Simpson) Apology accepted, Homer. I'd forgive you, too, if you used a breath mint.

CASTELLANETA: (As Homer Simpson) Why, you little...

CARTWRIGHT: (As Bart Simpson, choking).

CASTELLANETA: (As Grampa Simpson) Homer.

INSKEEP: Homer and Bart have had a chokehold on television ever since they got their own show in 1989. Sometimes they're kind of profound, literary. And they're now the longest-running situation comedy in television history, real or animated.

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