This side-by-side clip of two Simpsons scenes from different decades sparks debate about animation quality

Greg Evans
Saturday 16 January 2021 15:57
Showbiz
(20th Century Fox)

The Simpsons is one of the longest running shows in television history, having first aired in 1989 with its 32nd season scheduled to come to an end in May 2021.

During that time there have been many, many changes to the show, from the characters, the crew writing and directing the show, and even how we feel about certain aspects on The Simpsons which haven’t aged as well. 

All of those might seem like inevitable changes as all shows evolve and change over time, especially one that has been around for as long as The Simpsons

However, a very noticeable change on the show is its overall look and animation style, which was changed to high definition in 2009 at the beginning of the 20th season. This resulted in a brand new intro for the show, which was mostly the same but had a few minor changes which you can see in this video.

One scene in that intro which has remained the same, in terms of the way it plays out, is Marge at the supermarket with Maggie. For unexplained reasons, baby Maggie somehow ends up on the checkout conveyor belt and is scanned in by the shop assistant and is placed in a paper and eventually the shopping trolley. Marge momentarily looks concerned but that soon subsides when she realises her daughter is safe and sound. 

Almost everything about this scene in the current intro is the same, although the new version does include the addition of Maggie being annoyed at her rival Gerald. 

One thing that has changed though is Marge’s reaction to the scene. In the original she looks visibly alarmed, but in the newer version her expression barely alters. Another odd change is her robotic head movement, which compared to the original – featuring an extravagant swish of her iconic hair – looks like a downgrade. 

This difference was highlighted on Twitter earlier this week by professional animator Dan Root, who shared the two scenes in a side-by-side video with the added comment “still think about this from time to time.”

The two-second clip has now been viewed more than 1.7 million times on Twitter, with many feeling that this is an indictment of how far the show has fallen below its previous standards (a consensus that many who believe the show has outstayed its welcome would probably share).

Others felt that is was evidence of just how much pressure and lack of time modern animators are under these days.

However, some thought there was a simple explanation, suggesting that the changes to Marge were because the scene’s gag has been switched from her to Maggie.

Root has since added that he personally doesn’t see anything wrong with either approach and that the new intro is a more realistic reflection of the type of animation now on offer in the show.

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