For the millions who watch The Simpsons on Sunday night, Bart's constant wisecracking, Homer's often misguided attempts to be a good father, and Marge's role as a mother and peacemaker strike familiar chords. For others, the family's antics seem anything but normal. So we asked six therapists at the Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services in New York if they think the Simpsons are a typical American family:
Patricia G. Abelson, C.S.W.
Work-Family therapist, 40
Yes. It's typical in the sense that it's a happy family because they obviously love and care about each other. It's also an enormous relief to families everywhere to know that things don't have to be perfect in order for the family to work.
Robert Abramovitz, M.D.
Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, 52
No. I don't think they're typical at all. It's important to contradict the ''father knows best'' idealization of family, but this is too much to the othee extreme. To young kids, Bart's behavior will look as if it's cool to be antagonistic to parents.
Helen M. Crohn, C.S.W.
Marital and Family Therapist, 45
No, I don't think it's a typical family, but I think the strength of the show lies in being able to make fun of aspects of family life.
Marital and Family Therapist, 46
No and yes. I don't think any family is typical. But I think some of the things that the Simpsons deal with and the ways that they deal with them ring true for a lot of people.
Barbara Brooks, Ph.D.
Child Psychologist, 52
Yes, because we see in the Simpsons concerns about not being able to afford things, not being accepted, not feeling part of the group. They're fears that relate back to early childhood.
Vicki Rosenstreich, A.C.S.W.
Family Life Education, 46
Yes. I think they're typical because they display attributes of many families. They have values; they care about each other. They're not always nice to each other. But visit any family.