Now in its 31st year, the cartoon created by Matt Groening predicted many a world-altering event long before they took place, including Donald Trump’s presidency, Greece’s economic meltdown and the underdog American Olympic curling team besting the Swedes.
And, according to one astute viewer, it seems they may have also seen a pandemic of global proportions coming two decades ago. In an episode that aired in 1999, news anchor Kent Brockman is depicted delivering the day’s headlines from his own home in observance of new curfew laws in Springfield aimed specifically at seniors.
Here in the real world, many countries and US states have ordered the closure of all “non-essential” businesses, forcing citizens into their homes for an indefinite isolation period intended to bring down the still-rising toll the coronavirus is taking on businesses.
“This is Kent Brockman . . . reporting from my own home,” he says, “in accordance with the new curfew for anyone under 70.”
In a tweet by British TV writer Scott Bryan, he shares a “Simpsons” scene still alongside an image of BBC Channel 4 correspondent Krishnan Guru-Murthy, whose on-air greeting eerily parallels Brockman’s. It’s a situation to which many broadcast news reporters around the world can now relate.
“I hate to say it, I really do, but The Simpsons has . . . I can’t actually,” tweeted Bryan — clearly reticent to admit the soothsaying “Simpsons” had done it again.
But show scholars would know that the plot of the episode depicted an entirely different sort of crisis.
The episode, titled “Wild Barts Can’t Be
Fans have also suggested that a 1993 episode, called “Marge in Chains,” which references a so-called “Osaka flu” may also be an indication of “Simpsons” provenance. But episode writer Bill Oakley denied the idea to the Hollywood Reporter earlier this month. He clarified that the virus plot device was inspired by the 1968 flu pandemic, which began in British Hong Kong, and an “absurd” joke about how the virus made it to Springfield. As the story goes, Marge contracts the flu as she opens a box with virus-leaden air from a cough that had been sealed inside.
Speaking of “The Simpsons” predictions in general, Oakley said, “It’s mainly just coincidence because the episodes are so old that history repeats itself.”
The coronavirus won’t keep the creators of America’s favorite family down. The show confirmed earlier this week that production on Season 32 is moving ahead virtually as the teams