Remember when The Simpsons was the most controversial show on television?
Ah, those were the days. Long before Seth MacFarlane hijacked Sunday nights on
Fox with his clunky set-ups, forced irreverence, and puerile attempts at satire,
The Simpsons' portrayal of the modern American family drew plenty of ire
from media critics who questioned whether Bart Simpson should really be a role
model for young viewers.
Well, the March 13th episode of The Simpsons proved that after
22 seasons the show still has an edge. With guest stars Cheech Marin and Tommy
Chong, the show focused on – yup, you guessed it – marijuana, a subject
ill-suited for the Family Hour (the show aired at 8:00 p.m./7:00 p.m. Central).
For children watching the show and its numerous drug references, it was the
equivalent of taking your kids to Chuck E. Cheese with the Grateful Dead as the
animatronic band. Thus, for the glorification of marijuana, The Simpsons
has been named Worst TV Show of the Week.
In the show, Cheech & Chong have returned to Springfield as part of their
reunion tour. As anchorman, Kent Brockman explains, they were once weathermen
for the local TV station, but when police burned a stash of marijuana near the
studio, they got high from the fumes and the rest was history. Bart and Lisa,
however, have never heard of them, causing Homer to lament that he has failed as
a parent. “I swore the day my son was born, he would appreciate stoner comedy,”
Homer proclaims. He takes the children to the “media room” – the attic – to
listen to Cheech & Chong’s comedy LPs. When Marge calls out to them, Homer
frantically tells Bart and Lisa to hide the dope. Bart informs him that they
don’t have any dope, causing Homer to realize that the roach he was smoking was
During Cheech & Chong’s live comedy performance, Chong has a creative melt down
and abandons the remainder of the tour. Homer fills in for Chong, but quickly
realizes that Cheech’s onscreen persona is a far cry from his actual life. Homer
expects the tour to be nothing but high times. During a psychedelic fantasy
sequence, he envisions walking into the Quickie Mart with Cheech and Apu pours
them doobies from the Slushie machine. They light their joints directly from the
sun. But the truth is, Cheech is a strict task-master, and nothing like he is in
the movies, to Homer’s dismay. Eventually, Chong decides to return to the tour
and Homer is more than happy to trade places again.
may have been on the air for 22 years now (and counting), and while there are
plenty of adults who watch the show, no one can deny that there is also a
sizable audience of children. Since Cheech is a portrayed as a straight-laced
stick-in-the-mud, the subtle anti-drug messages in the show are completely lost.
In the end, sober still equals boring.
For exposing young viewers to glorified representations of drug use, The
Simpsons has been named Worst TV Show of the Week.
Parents Television Council,
Clean Up TV Now, Because our children are watching, The
nation's most influential advocacy organization, Protecting
children against sex, violence and profanity in
entertainment, Parents Television Council Seal of Approval,
and Family Guide to Prime Time Television
are trademarks of the Parents Television Council.