The Simpsons have become such a ubiquitous part of pop culture that it’s easy to forget that new episodes are still being made, deliberately, with the same edgy humor and attention to detail as ever. Instead it’s easier to think of them as a real family, frozen in time, never aging or really changing, but living their lives just the same. If you turn on the TV on a Sunday night, you’ll find them, just as you’ll find them in syndication every other day of the week. And finding them, I swear, is a lot less like stumbling upon a show than it is driving past a house and glimpsing the family inside. You know why? Because they’re always going.
Initially I was confused as to what one would do with a Blu-ray of The Simpsons. When would one put it on? Why would one choose a particular season over another? After twenty-five years, where does one begin? Couldn’t you just find them on TV? And yet, I also jumped at the opportunity to get my mitts on the Sixteenth Season of The Simpsons on Blu-ray. Just a simple, “I need that.” You know why? Because we all need the Simpsons. For bad days and sick days and pick-me-ups and doing puzzles and making dinner and just to gather a year’s worth of episodes in one place and say, “OMG. This show is SO GOOD. Still.”
Season Sixteen kicks off with an ever fabulous “Treehouse of Terror” episode, wherein Flanders develops an ability to foresee the future. From there, I dare you not to become hooked as the family endures a never-ending kitchen remodel, bully Nelson comes to stay, Lisa struggles with body issues over her big butt, and Marge becomes part owner of Moe’s tavern. All of this unfolds within the first few episodes, reminding us that this show has been consistently great for longer than just about anything else.
As the season progresses, Homer officiates a gay wedding, Lisa obtains a restraining order against Bart, Selma adopts a Chinese baby, and Bart suffers a heart attack after eating too much junk food. More to the point, the Simpsons endure the perils of growing up, the ups and down of married life, and the day-to-day business of being a family. Though often exaggerated or absurd, there’s an undeniable poignance to the show, making it much more than a cartoon. Notable guest voices during Season Sixteen include James Caan, Kim Cattrall, Eric Idle, 50 Cent, Michelle Kwan, Gary Busey, Jane Kaczmarek, Robert Wagner, Lucy Liu, Joe Mantegna, Amy Poehler, Stephen Hawking, Ray Romano, Jason Bateman, Liam Neeson, Los Lobos, and the late Marcia Wallace. The Blu-ray edition comes with a handy booklet/episode guide and includes more extra features than I can detail here. There’s audio commentary on every episode, deleted scenes, bonus episodes, original sketches, and much, much more.