Database for Animation Studies


Frank Grimes’ Enemy: Precarious Labour and Realism in The Simpsons

Although many fans have identified the end of The Simpsons’ golden era in 1997, at the beginning of season nine, there has been little critical analysis of what that shift signified for the show and for popular culture as a whole. For The Simpsons, this shift signifies two important qualitative changes: first, in the changing definition of work, from a Fordist model of employment to a precarious one, and second, as a result of the first, in its mode of realism, moving from an internally coherent to a fractured portrayal of the characters’ lives. The first sign of this transformation comes in season eight through the character of Frank Grimes. His relationship to Homer marks a turning point, after which characters and viewers alike are no longer able to inhabit a stable Fordist universe. If the task of realism, as a mode of expression is to approach social reality then The Simpsons’ failure to provide consistent characterizations reflects neoliberalism’s own dislocations.

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Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal
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