Source – bbc.com
The Simpsons: How the show’s writers predict the future
By Sinead Garvan
They’re the most-famous animated family on the planet and have been entertaining viewers for more than 30 years.
From celebrity cameos and sometimes predicting the future, The Simpsons set the benchmark for other animated sitcoms.
“You’re in a room with 10 to 20 really funny people,” writer Al Jean tells Radio 1 Newsbeat. He’s been with Bart and the rest of the family since 1989 when the show began.
“So maybe the best thing is when Trump does something stupid and you’ve got a lot of people who can make jokes about it right away.”
“But,” he says, “there are definitely a lot of distractions”.
Working on the programme is like group therapy.
“There is so much going on in the world that we have to come in and talk about it,” Stephanie Gillis, another of the show’s writers, tells us.
“That’s why I think we end up talking about the show a lot outside of work, because so much of what is going on in the world ends up on the show.”
That’s not all – things that haven’t yet happened also have a tendency to end up on the show.
In recent years The Simpsons have given us a glimpse into the future – including the prediction that Donald Trump would become President.
They predicted the Ebola crisis, smartphones and even Lady Gaga performing at the Superbowl.
“With the Trump one in 2000 we were looking for a funny celebrity who would be president,” explains Al.
It wasn’t as left-field as you may think – President Trump had already said back then he’d consider running for office at some point in the future.
The show’s apparent knack for predicting the future provided a field day for conspiracy theorists when an episode long before the terror attacks on 11 September 2001 saw the Simpsons head to New York City.
“They bought a guide book on New York that had the words 9 dollars on it next to a picture of the Twin Towers, so it looked like 9/11 – but it was totally coincidental,” Al says.
There have been hundreds of episodes and many plotlines about the future but they don’t think the outcomes are as crazy as some fans think.
“If you make enough predictions then 10% will turn out to be right,” Al suggests.
“We are sort of futurologists in that we write 10 months ahead, so we’re trying to guess what is going to happen,” adds Stephanie
The Simpsons is as famous for predicting the future as it is for it’s incredible list of celebrity cameos.
From Chris Martin to Mark Zuckerberg, there have been more than 800 guest appearances.
And it’s become an “I’ve made it” moment for many celebrities. Al says they are always surprised how enthusiastic people from the UK are.
One of their favourite memories is of recording former British Prime Minister Tony Blair inside 10 Downing Street.
“Alistair Campbell [his press secretary] came out and he said we had to keep it all very secret,” Al recalls.
“We wanted to take a picture outside and when we did there were photographs being taken of us by a guy lurking in the bushes.
“I was supposed to keep it a secret and then it was on the front page of the news.
“It was so sneaky but we think it was set up by Alistair Campbell,” laughs Steph. “They definitely planned it.”
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If you wanna know where the world is heading, fire up “The Simpsons.”
The popular adult cartoon show has predicted wild and detailed world events such as Donald Trump running for president, the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bengals’ 2022 Super Bowl win, Russia invading Ukraine, the 9/11 terrorist attacks and much more.
For decades, viewers have watched and wondered how the show’s writers have consistently predicted the future and, after 33 seasons, we’re finally going to find out.
Showrunner Matt Selman told Deadline that the newest season of the show will finally reveal to fans how they continue to shock viewers by accurately predicting the future.
“We have another crazy conceptual episode that explains how ‘The Simpsons’ [knows] the future. It’s a conceptual episode with lots of crazy stuff in it, but it does an explanation of how ‘The Simpsons’ can predict the future,” Selman said.
“The Simpsons” has continued to set records as the longest-running prime-time series, with 728 episodes to date and 98 Emmy nominations and 35 wins.
The series is nominated again this year for Best Animated Program.
The events ‘The Simpsons’ predicted correctly in 2021
“I’m excited about Season 34. It’s probably the best 34th season of any show you’ve ever seen,” Selman joked.
He joined the writing staff of the hit series in 1997 and became a co-showrunner with Al Jean in 2020. Jean has previously shared that he believes the show has been able to continuously predict the future thanks to both luck and the number of episodes produced.
“One of our writers, the guy whose episode predicted Donald Trump as president, said it best: ‘If you write 700 episodes, and you don’t predict anything, then you’re pretty bad. If you throw enough darts, you’re going to get some bullseyes,” Jean told NME.
Still, he noted that he finds the show’s unintentional 9/11 prediction particularly eerie.
“The 9/11 one is so bizarre,” said Jean of “The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson.” “In the World Trade Center episode, there was a brochure reading $9 a day with an 11 styled up like the towers. That was in ’96, which was crazy, like this insane coincidence.”
But other predictions have been more thoughtful. “[Mostly] it’s just educated guesses,” Jean continued. “Stanley Kubrick made the movie ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ in 1968, and there’s Zoom and iPads in it — but that’s because he had futurologists helping him construct what the world might look like in 30 years’ time.”
Jean told fans on Twitter that one of his “educated guesses” was Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Very sad to say this was not hard to predict,” Jean tweeted on Feb. 24, the first day of the invasion, in response to an article titled “Did ‘The Simpsons’ ‘Predict’ the Russia-Ukraine Crisis Way Back in 1998?”
“I hate to say it, but I was born in 1961, so 30 years of my life were lived with the specter of the Soviet Union,” Jean elaborated in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter. “So, to me, this is sadly more the norm than it is a prediction. We just figured things were going to go bad.”
The Michigan-born animator continued, “Historical aggression never really goes away, and you have to be super vigilant. In 1998, when this clip aired, it was maybe the zenith of US-Russia relations.”
“But, ever since [Russian President Vladimir] Putin got in, almost everybody has made it clear that he’s a bad guy and bad things are going to happen,” he added.
Fox announced that the new season of “The Simpsons” will premiere Sunday, Sept. 25. Tune in to find out how the rest of the year will turn out.