4 Things The Simpsons Taught Me About American Culture

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

SOURCE:  Fox / Gracie Films

Like many young British kids, growing up our choices in television seemed quite lacklustre. Between the preteen “dramas”, puppets and overly happy presenters - most of which have been recently outed as paedophiles - there was very little to get us excited over. With the exception of Rugrats, Goosebumps and a few other cartoons, there were few programs from our neighbours across the pond. So unless you had cable the chance that you would get to see American TV like was tiny. I for one was under the correct assumption that American kids programming was far better than watching some kid make wishes by rubbing the Queen's nose on a magic 50p coin.


The Simpsons finally premiered on basic UK television on December 25th 1996, I was 7 and was hooked instantly. I heard about The Simpsons on the playground from the kids who were lucky enough to have seen it on cable, where it had been airing since 1990. But on that fateful Christmas in 1996 on BBC One I fell in love with that yellow family. I watched every episode I could and it was the first time I realised there was a cultural difference between America and the UK, before this I’d just assume that it was just like England but with different accents. So here are just 4 of the probably numerous things The Simpsons taught me about American life.

The stereotype of British people having bad teeth


SOURCE:  Fox / Gracie Films

In “Last Exit to Springfield”, to scare Ralph into brushing his teeth his dentist produces a picture book titled “The BIG Book of British Smiles”. Each page showing a Brit with a grotesque set of teeth, presumably from poor dental hygiene. This was the first time I was ever made aware of this stereotype, and I - presumably like many other kids - ended up with a complex about our teeth. This may have been a good thing scaring us into excessive dental care. At first I didn’t understand where this stereotype came from, and while I must admit hearing some Americans criticising teeth that are perfectly fine, I do occasionally notice people with bad teeth every now and then.

Paying for healthcare


SOURCE:  Fox / Gracie Films

Growing up in the UK and having all my healthcare needs taken care of for free through the NHS, I just took it for granted that this is how it works all over the world. However after seeing “Homer’s Triple Bypass” I learnt otherwise. After homer is diagnosed with having clogged arteries he learns that the procedure to save him will cost $40,000. This really did shock me because I saw it as another service like the Police or Fire Service, and you wouldn’t be expected to pay a police officer to look into a burglary for you. It obviously is far more nuanced than that, but as a kid it was the first time I ever thought it may be different other places in the world.

What prom is


SOURCE:  Fox / Gracie Films

“The Way We Was” tells the story of how Homer and Marge met in high school. After tricking Marge into spending time with him Homer asks her out to prom, then things take a turn for the worse for Homis and she ends up going with Artie Ziff. This was probably the first time I’d ever heard of Prom, the closest we got in Britain was a sad school disco with a teacher manning the CD player and a bowl of assorted snacks. Since the early 2000’s however more and more schools in Britain have started putting on Proms and has since been adopted fully with the growing Americanisation of the UK.

Summer Camp


SOURCE:  Fox / Gracie Films

“Kamp Krusty” along with Addams Family Values gave me my first understanding of what american summer camp is. Even today with more American media educating me I don't fully understand it, are the kids away for the whole summer? Why would anyone over the age of 13 want to go? Isn’t the idea of a panty raid a bit creepy? Maybe I’ll never find out the answers to these most pressing questions. We never had anything like this, the closest we would get is a trip camping in boy scouts or an educational school trip, both are terrible for their own reasons.

~Gary

9 comments :

  1. I was always fascinated by the high schools, they seemed worlds away from our crappy british ones! :) x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh don't worry—high school sucks here too lmao. I didn't realize you didn't have Prom tho! It's pretty overrated to be honest, but you don't really know that until after the fact lol.

      And Gary, if you think Homer paying for the surgery is bad here's another fun fact: you also have to cough up a chunk to ride in an ambulance after an emergency. Some people with conditions that could cause well meaning bystanders to call 911--seizures, fainting, etc--actually carry cards or wear tags that say do not call 911 because they can't afford to pay for the service.

      www.katsyxo.com

      Delete
    2. That is so bad. I feel like in other American shows like Greys Anatomy and stuff they never really talk about this sort of stuff.

      The other thing I really never figured out is jaywalking. What the hell is it?? Just crossing the road? If so I have no idea why that is illegal?

      Thanks for reading
      ~Gary

      Delete
  2. This was the only image I had of prom too until yr 10 when I started seeing pictures of the yr 11s and hearing stories about it haha.
    Great post and a unique topic, was a very fun read xxx

    The Frugal Teen | http://thefrugalteen.wix.com/thefrugalteen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha yeah when I had my prom it was kind of a let down after seeing all these fancy American ones.

      Thanks for reading
      ~Gary

      Delete
  3. Loved this post! I grew up in the States and it never really occurred to me how fucked it was that they have to pay so much for healthcare until I was about 16 and living in the UK. Was never lucky enough to go to Summer Camp though!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I always find it interesting the things that people think are totally normal. Then as we get older we find out all the things that are different all around the world.

      Thanks for reading
      ~Gary

      Delete
  4. I still don't really get summer camp...but maybe that's because the only camps I ever went on were through my school/during a school week so of course I wanted to go because you get out of going to school for a week! To be honest though I actually feel like I've learned most of my life knowledge through various TV shows...

    Julia // The Sunday Mode

    ReplyDelete
  5. Well, this was a fun and informative read! :) I for one did not know that prom in the UK was only fully adopted in the early 2000s. I live in Southeast Asia and we don't have summer camps. Do retreats once a year count? Haha. (A retreat is a spiritual, if not religious, event that students take every year. Most private schools I know have this. I am not so sure about the public schools, though. I better check on that.) I honestly loved this post.

    ReplyDelete