The Simpsons, the longest-running animated show in American television history, has been renewed until 2025. Fox announced Friday that the series, currently in its 36th season, will extend its run by another two years in spite of dwindling cachet and the phasing-out of several characters whose voice actors have died.
As the show evolved from a dysfunctional-family sitcom to a savage critique of American culture, it has repeatedly taken the pomposities of the tech industry down a peg or two. Here are five of the show’s most brutally hilarious sendups of Northern California and its most mock-able industry.
Specs and the City | 2014
Has anything in the entire 21st century begged for satire quite like Google Glass? The spectacularly ill-conceived spectacles became Google’s biggest flop when they debuted in 2013, so naturally the crapulent billionaire Mr. Burns had to give out the show’s equivalent to his employees. Homer gives his pair of Oogle Goggles to Marge and, after stumbling on Burns’ surveillance lair, spies on her everyday activities, nudging The Simpsons close to Black Mirror territory.
This was all shortly before Google rebranded as Alphabet and phased out the motto “Don’t Be Evil.” Did The Simpsons’ mercilessness inspire Eric Schmidt to hand off the CEO reins to Sundar Pichai? Maybe.
Das Bus | 1998
“You don’t even have a computer!” a Space Coyote voiced by Johnny Cash once chided Homer during a chili-induced hallucination. Well, the family eventually gets one, and Homer quickly becomes a dot-com mogul whose website blows up even though it doesn’t sell or do anything. The one-man company, “Compu-Global-Hyper-Mega-Net,” eventually attracts the attention of a reedy-voiced Bill Gates, who sics his henchman on the makeshift corporate HQ. “Buy him out, boys!” Gates commands, as the flunkies upset the pencils on Homer’s desk.
You Only Move Twice | 1996
Perhaps the most beloved one-off character in the entire show, the benevolent-sounding, hammock-loving CEO of Globex Corporation lures Homer away from the Springfield Nuclear Plant to a problem-free Silicon Valley-esque suburb for a cushy job. Voiced by Simpsons go-to guest star Albert Brooks, Hank Scorpio rapidly reveals himself to be a megalomaniacal Bond villain who destroys France and seizes the East Coast. He’s like Elon Musk, if Musk indulged in a fun run.
A Hologram of a Tree
Lisa’s Wedding | 1995
In a 1995 episode framed by a Ren Faire parody, a fortuneteller gives Lisa a glimpse into her future life—in the far-off time now known as “13 years ago.” The Simpsons of 2010 have a compost pile and videophone technology, plus there’s a visual gag about the Rolling Stones being on a “Wheelchair Tour.” (They’ve still got gas in the tank, of course.)
It might be subtle, but the episode’s most salient barb may be the holographic memorial to “A Real Tree” that malfunctions until someone physically kicks it. Even in the future nothing works!
A Trip to San Francisco
Bart-Mangled Banner | 2004
After Bart moons the American flag, he sets in motion a chain of events in which Springfield morphs into an ultra-patriotic “Liberty-field” where everything costs $17.76. Lisa’s contrarianism lands the family in the Ronald Reagan Reeducation Center—which turns out to be Alcatraz.
The episode aired in 2004 at the zenith of George W. Bush-era jingoism, so they’re imprisoned alongside Michael Moore, the [Dixie] Chicks and perennial punching bag Bill Clinton. While swimming ashore, they get scooped up by the French military and spirited to Europe. It really raises the question of why they don’t come here more, when we literally have a transit system named BART.
Astrid Kane can be reached at [email protected]