It’s a pop-cultural phenomenon, a prime-time cartoon show that appeals to the entire family. It has yielded the season’s one new breakout star, the glowering preteen Bart ”Don’t Have a Cow, Man” Simpson. But more than that, The Simpsons’ creator, cartoonist Matt Groening, has brought forth television’s most complicated family, a gaggle of squabblers who know, deep down, that arguing is a way of expressing affection in this era of irony.
All this said, here’s one reservation: When Bart’s insults aren’t absolutely top-notch, they can seem like the sort of oppressive rudeness that comes out of the mouths of so many flesh-and-blood prime-time children. As The Simpsons’ first season went on, however, Bart’s character deepened, becoming more detailed and varied — more than just another disrespectful little wiseacre. A-