The Simpsons Halloween Specials have become as much a part of Halloween as trick-or-treating. Ever since that first Treehouse of Horror episode way back in 1990 we have been thrilled by the one episode every season where all the rules are thrown out of the window and anything goes as The Simpsons pay homage to classic horror movies and TV series such as The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits and Alfred Hitchcock Presents…
To celebrate this tradition we are going to be posting quotes, reviews, trivia and pictures as we await the arrival of All Hallow’s Eve. Dust off the fake fangs, unscrew the bottle of fake blood because here at the Order of Trinity we’re counting down to Halloween with The Simpsons.
#2 Marge’s Warning
On October 25th 1990 The Simpsons aired the first Treehouse of Horror. Before the episode even began however Marge appears from behind a red curtain like the ones seen at movie theatres and says;
Hello, everyone. You know, Halloween is a very strange holiday. Personally, I don’t understand it. Kids worshipping ghosts, pretending to be devils. Things on TV that are completely inappropriate for young viewers. Things like the following half-hour! Nothing seems to bother my kids, but tonight’s show—which I totally wash my hands of—is really scary. So if you have sensitive children, maybe you should tuck them in early tonight instead of writing us angry letters tomorrow. Thanks for your attention.
This became one of the trademark moments of the Halloween specials that people remember the most even though it was only done in three of the twenty four Halloween episodes.
What few people realize however is that in the very first Treehouse of Horror this warning was not a gag or gimmick as it became later but was meant to be taken seriously. In 2014 The Simpsons have pretty much become part of the furniture in western society so its easy to forget that when it first aired in 1989 it was a highly controversial show. It was one of the only family shows that actually displayed conflict amongst the family members as opposed to the family facing outside antagonists and many conservative elements felt that this along with the dis-respective nature of Bart to his elders was diluting the view of the traditional nuclear family. The part about “letter writing” in Marge’s warning was a reference to the protests the show received.
With this backdrop its easy to understand why the producers of The Simpsons were nervous about the Halloween episode fearing it could be a step too far and so felt they needed to warn viewers before the episode began. Unfortunately it had the opposite effect and people assumed it was just a gag.