Why ‘The Simpsons’?
The majority of videos that I use in class come from The Simpsons. Students used to ask me why I did not use a more “realistic” show like Friends or Seinfeld instead. Now before I show the first Simpsons clip, I take a moment to explain.
There are three reasons that I use The Simpsons as videos in class:
- They are available to me. Media law in the U.S. says that if you own a DVD, as an educator you may save the content in one other format in order to share with students. I own the first 8 seasons of the Simpsons so it is legal for me to copy them to a computer format to share in class. With over 20 years of episodes there is a lot of material to select.
- They are generally familiar to students. Students usually know the characters so there is less background information that I am required to provide to introduce each clip.
- The animation means that the show is usually “over the top.” In other words, when characters mess up, they mess up in a big way and that makes it easier to see and learn from their errors.
I do worry that one day “The Simpsons” will be completely out of date and every year I find fewer students who are able to fill in “how does this episode end?” questions. However, I still get good reception from students on the whole. I’ve had older students who said before class they avoided the show because it was “trashy” but really enjoyed the clips. That being said, most of my clips are from the first eight seasons when the show was focused on the characters much more than the newer episodes are.
There are many newer episodes of The Simpsons available for free at hulu.com along with an assortment of videoclips from earlier seasons. These can be shown in class or embedded in a web site. For specific clips that I use in class, see the videoclips category.
Photo courtesy Simpsons Wiki.