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Arts and Entertainment

'The Simpsons' Gets Renewed For A Record-Setting Two More Seasons

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The Simpsons has been renewed for its 29th and 30th seasons, reports Variety. This should mean that, during its 30th season, the show will surpass Gunsmoke as having the most episodes among any scripted show in TV history.

Gunsmoke, which ran from 1955 to 1975, currently holds the record with 635 episodes in total. Curiously, the Western accomplished this record with a paltry (and we're using the term very, very lightly here) 20 seasons.

The Simpsons had its beginnings on The Tracey Ullman Show, where it was featured as animated shorts that were produced by creator Matt Groening. It wasn't until 1989 that it got its own timeslot on Fox. Ever since, it has been regarded as one of the major cultural touchstones across the globe. To date it has won 32 Emmys, and in 1996 it became the first animated series to win a Peabody Award. Here's Diane Sawyer presenting the award to Groening and company.

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It's hard to imagine now, but there was a time when The Simpsons was regarded as a menace to society. It was one of the first animated shows to bring up "mature" themes, offering biting social commentary that was lost on viewers who focused too narrowly on its sense of irreverence. In 1991, Daddy George Bush famously declared that he wanted American families to be "a lot more like the Waltons, and a lot less like the Simpsons." Later, in a 1996 Simpsons episode ("Two Bad Neighbors"), Homer would get into a fist-fight with Bush (voiced by Harry Shearer) in an underground sewer.

Homer, it seems, has emerged as the victor, as the show's influence can be found in everything from South Park, Family Guy, and even some offerings on the Cartoon Network (The Simpsons' knack of referencing itself, a post-modern gag, has become commonplace today).

Considering the show's popularity (it had more viewers than The Apprentice and The Bachlorette in 2015), was there any doubt that it would go on to break Gunsmoke's record? There were, indeed, moments that had put the show's future in question. In 2011, it was reported that Fox wanted the voice actors to take a 45 % salary cut, and even threatened to hire sound-alikes if the actors refused. Last year, Shearer, who voices many notables such as Mr. Burns, was rumored to be walking away from a $14 million deal (but he ultimately came back).

For the most part, the show has remained largely the same. Bart and Lisa are, apparently, still in the same grade they'd started with. Homer has somehow retained his job as a safety inspector at a nuclear power plant. Marge has kept the same hairstyle, and Maggie still can't talk (though she did utter a word once, as voiced by Elizabeth Taylor).

Adjustments, however, are inevitable for such a long-running show. Some of the more notable changes include the sudden death of Maude Flanders, who was written off the show after voice-actor Maggie Roswell got into a salary dispute. Barney Gumble, formerly Moe's Tavern's most loyal customer, had given up alcohol in an episode written by Homer voice-actor Dan Castellaneta, who wanted Barney to find sobriety. Also, Edna Krabappel, Bart's teacher, departed from the show when actor Marcia Wallace passed away in 2013. Simpsons fans may point to some overarching changes as well. As the show has gained mainstream acceptance, the guest stars of today lean towards the culturally prominent, like Gordon Ramsay, Lena Dunham, and Rickey Gervais. Back in the early days, however, viewers were instead treated to cameos by Ernest Borgnine and Robert Goulet, who actually turned out some of the show's funniest one-offs.

Al Jean, an executive producer and one of the show's original writers, told CNN on Friday that the show's longevity is a result of one-upmanship. "To be honest, just from the beginning, we've always been trying to do the best episode possible 669 times in a row," said Jean. When asked how long the show will be running, Jean said, "I think our new motto is 'on to sixty.'"

If your TV provider has access to the FXX channel, you can watch seasons 1 through 28 on the "Simpsonsworld" site.

Here are some memorable clips from the show (it's hard to pick just a few, to say the least):

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