The Simpsons is a show that satirizes a vast variety of serious social issues. Although this particular episode is primarily about the attempted murder of Homer's boss and Springfield's wealthiest resident Montgomery Burns it still manages to satirize nearly every serious social issue that we are faced with today. The show satirizes these issues by using exaggeration or presenting them in unlikely situations. They relate the comedy to the audience by using the social issues that are familiar and important to them. The Simpsons is primarily geared towards an audience of middle class family folk and is one of the few cartoons watched by both children and adults.
In just this one episode there is a rather lengthy list of social issues that they contended with. In one way or another they dealt with each of these issues: homosexuality, alcoholism, murder rate, incompetent hospitals, incompetent police, children being capable of murder, elderly people being stupid, church being a business, a society with people who would rob a church, greed, media, capital punishment, obesity, crime in show business, cross dressing, mental health, perversion, incompetent doctors, disease, illegal aliens, trying children as adults, trigger happy juries, and more.
The Simpsons uses a plethora of ways to get their satire across to the audience. Many of them are conveyed through the various characters in the show. Chief Wiggum and his staff are incompetent, cowardly police officers. Apu is an illegal alien/Quickie Mart employee. Willie is a mentally ill school janitor. Krusty the Klown is a drug-addicted host of a children's show. Barney Gumble is the local alcoholic. Waylon Smithers is a closet homosexual. Grampa Simpson is a forgetful, absent-minded elderly man. Another clever way they use satire is with the various signs throughout Springfield. For example, in this episode the sign in front of the church reads: Archbishop carries less than $20. Suggesting both that the church is like a business and that our society contains people vicious enough to rob a church.
The Simpsons are a typical middle-class American family. The head of the family, Homer, is simply put a fat, lazy moron who works for the local chemical plant. Marge is a housewife that is smarter than Homer, but not much. The kids are Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. Bart is a typical mischievous underachiever with a tendency to get into trouble. Contrasting Bart is Lisa, she is the nerdy, talented over achieving sibling. Although much involved in the episode at hand the youngest daughter Maggie usually just walks around and falls. The fact that this family is so typical makes the show appeal to most people. Many people can relate to a clumsy, middle-aged father or an underachieving little boy or a nerdy little girl. The family being so "normal" also makes the situations that they are put into that much funnier. How many families are placed at the hub of an attempted murder investigation? These outrageous situations are also prevalent in most other episodes as well.
The show involves serious issues for many reasons. Perhaps the main reason is because they are universal subjects. Many people are concerned about serious social issues. Shows like The Simpsons take these serious issues and turn them into comedy. Such comedy makes both the makers of the show and the viewers feel better about the issues that personally effect them. They also use alienation to further aid themselves. By laughing at Barney the alcoholic or Smithers the homosexual we feel superior to real life Barney's and Smithers'.
The Simpsons uses a wide range of comedic devices to make their audience laugh from very intelligent satire to slapstick. They stock every show with so many jokes that it takes a couple of viewings to catch them all. It is probably because of this that the show appeals to such a wide variety of people. No matter who you are something in the show will strike you as funny.

Analysis Assignment #2
The Simpsons