How They Wrote The Simpsons, by a Vintage Writer

A writer from The Simpsons' glory years tells how they made the classic episodes.

During the glory years of The Simpsons—either the first 10 seasons or seasons three through eight if you want to get picky—the show was groundbreaking, incomparably clever, and built on a foundation of unprecedented use of allusion. Bill Oakley, who wrote for the show for seasons four through six and produced it during seasons seven and eight, just penned a reflection for The Awl on how the impressive roster or writers crafted those classic episodes.

Here's a bit about the biannual writers' pitch retreats:

Many people were very, very intimidated by all this stuff and it was like the worst part of their year. But for us, it was our favorite part of the year. My writing partner Josh Weinstein and I would work really hard on these things and we'd usually have a couple of ideas stored up that we'd been working on for a couple months, and we just liked the opportunity to discuss them and have everybody there pitching in their jokes. And, you know, usually you would get laughs. And people would give suggestions like, oh, this could happen or that could happen, and you'd usually talk about the idea for about twenty minutes, with everybody pitching in stuff off the top of their head.

You wanted to have a story that had a beginning, middle, and end. You didn't necessarily have to have the act breaks, but you couldn't go into the retreats with just one sentence, you know, something like "Bart vs. Australia." These are busy, highly-paid people, and you didn't want to waste Jim Brooks' time with something half-assed. I'm pretty sure there was at least one guy who got canned after his crummy performance at the story retreat. So you wanted to be prepared, as your job was on the line to some extent. So you wanted to come in with a story that would take ten minutes to tell and would have the act breaks, or at least some semblance of the act breaks.


You can also read the second part of Oakley's essay here. It's part of The Awl's "Classic Simpsons Week" series, which offers a wonderful reprieve from whatever it is you're supposed to be doing at work right now.

via GOOD / YouTube

Last Friday, millions of people in 150 countries across the globe took to the streets to urge world leaders to enact dramatic solutions to combat climate change.

The Climate Strike was inspired, in part, by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old girl from Sweden who has captured worldwide attention for her tireless work to hold lawmakers responsible for the climate crisis.

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This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

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The Climate Action Trackerkeeps tabs on what each country is doing to limit warming, and if they're meeting their self-set goals. Countries are graded based on whether or not their actions would help limit warming to 1.5 degrees C.

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September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

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