Ken Tucker
June 15, 1990 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Simpsons

type
TV Show
Current Status
In Season
run date
12/17/89
performer
Hank Azaria, Nancy Cartwright, Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Yeardley Smith
guest performer
Pierce Brosnan, Richard Gere, Stephen Jay Gould, Lisa Kudrow, Edward Norton, R.E.M., Ben Stiller, Reese Witherspoon
broadcaster
Fox
genre
Cartoons/Animation, Comedy
We gave it an A-

It’s a pop-cultural phenomenon, a prime-time cartoon show that appeals to the entire family. It has yielded the season’s one new breakout star, the glowering preteen Bart ”Don’t Have a Cow, Man” Simpson. But more than that, The Simpsons‘ creator, cartoonist Matt Groening, has brought forth television’s most complicated family, a gaggle of squabblers who know, deep down, that arguing is a way of expressing affection in this era of irony.

All this said, here’s one reservation: When Bart’s insults aren’t absolutely top-notch, they can seem like the sort of oppressive rudeness that comes out of the mouths of so many flesh-and-blood prime-time children. As The Simpsons‘ first season went on, however, Bart’s character deepened, becoming more detailed and varied — more than just another disrespectful little wiseacre. A-

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