Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History” as Want to Read:
The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History

3.31  ·  Rating details ·  979 Ratings  ·  143 Reviews
The Simpsons is one of the most successful shows to ever run on television. From its first moment on air, the series's rich characters, subversive themes, and layered humor resounded deeply with audiences both young and old who wanted more from their entertainment than what was being meted out at the time by the likes of Full House, Growing Pains, and Family Matters. Spawn ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by Faber & Faber (first published January 1st 2009)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Simpsons, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Simpsons

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Denise Du Vernay
Jul 20, 2011 rated it did not like it
The way Ortved has tied together quotes from people formerly part of The Simpsons' inner circle (as well as quotes found in various places by those still working on the show) is very interesting, making the book hard to put down. It's almost like being at a friend's house while her family is arguing-- you know it's none of your business, you don't want this discussion to taint your view of certain members of the family, but for some reason you just can't tune them out. This book is NOT for regul ...more
Jj Kwashnak
Jan 23, 2010 rated it liked it
Amazingly, considering that The Simpsons has been on the air for 20 years now, there has been no official, or authorized, history of the show written. Ortved may have set out to write an authorized history, but it is obvious that he was not getting the cooperation he felt was necessary. As a result he has created an unauthorized history of our favorite family, pulled together from what seems to be extensive sets of interviews with many key people in and around the Simpsons universe as well as pu ...more
May 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I haven't gone near The Simpsons for about 12 years. When I was 11 or 12 and Sky started showing The Simpsons and I was lucky enough to have cable and The Simpsons was The Greatest Thing I Ever Done Seen. I would tape every show and obsessively rewatch it, sucking up the jokes over and over and loving every reference I did and didn't get. If I know from funny, about 18-22% of that is down to these guys. But something terrible happened to The Simpsons after 8 or 9 years. It lost its soul and went ...more
Dec 31, 2009 rated it really liked it
I'm about 60 pages away from finishing this thing and I gotta' say that it's a MUST for SIMPSONS fans. You'll zip through it. And you might not believe how big of a DICK this thing paints Matt Groening.

Put together as an 'oral history,' it's simply a set of chronological interviews, but it's a great behind-the-scenes of the internal workings of this Mayflower of animation. From the get-go, Ortved tells us this is NOT a book about how to write comedy for television, simply a historical account. B
Jinny Chung
Dec 06, 2009 rated it liked it
Enjoyed some chapters, not all. Matt Groening, a loyal customer of my store, told me that he would in no way support "Ortved and his book". He'd been approached to contribute and he refused. Groening explained those that had declined an interview with Ortved were either written out of the book's Simpsons history or straight-up slandered. It's clear who Ortved resents. There is no objective voice in this book. So beware.

Nevertheless, as an avid listener of the DVD commentaries, I had many a hear
Denise Du Vernay
Jul 20, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The way Ortved has tied together quotes from people formerly part of The Simpsons' inner circle (as well as quotes found in various places by those still working on the show) is very interesting, making the book hard to put down. It's almost like being at a friend's house while her family is arguing-- you know it's none of your business, you don't want this discussion to taint your view of certain members of the family, but for some reason you just can't tune them out. This book is NOT for regul ...more
Jason Pettus
Jan 26, 2010 rated it liked it
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

Although the staff of the cultural touchstone The Simpsons has done a good job over the years of keeping it quiet, the fact is that there's been plenty of drama and infighting behind the scenes of that show (now officially the longest-running prime-time television program in history); that's the subject o
Oct 27, 2009 rated it it was ok
My review is now up at Popmatters: here.

A preview:

Imagine you are waiting tables at a wedding reception. You wander among the tables, filling glasses and laying down plates of food. You are likely to hear snippets of conversation, most likely about the bride and groom, about their families, about their past, their plans, their future. What you hear will likely be out of context, sometimes probably even incorrect, contradictory. The groom works for a bank. No, he’s in real estate. The bride may
Daisy Church
Aug 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Thoroughly enjoyed this book; I feel like I have a much more informed and realistic idea of how the series got its start and all the primary players. Took a few chapters to get into it; definitely see some of the author's opinion showing through in places a bit too obviously, but I like how it's a collection of "from the mouth of" sources, and shows especially how malleable and fickle memory can be when recalling events and situations. Would definitely recommend for any fans of the Simpsons or a ...more
Oct 22, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2013
John Ortved is an atrocious author. Although his book is presented as an oral history, he repeatedly interjects with his own commentary. Granted, sometimes this must be done to help set the scene or clear up facts, but Ortved throws so much of his own smug opinions into the proceeding that I had to fight to finish the damn thing.

It's not even that I disagree with his opinions(Although I do disagree with several). Many are off topic and petty. Here's an example. Ortved is talking about how the a
Oct 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2010
This ethically questionable take on the history of "The Simpsons" gets high marks ONLY because it's about "The Simpsons," and ONLY because it's a quick read. John Ortved really deserves a public shaming by Oprah, because this book, although dishy and fun, is about as unbiased and full of integrity as the KKK. If you can wade through the unintelligible writing and drown out the sound of the giant axe being ground, what you'll find is basically one elaborate (though rollicking) extended blog post ...more
Troy Blackford
Jan 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is an in-depth and unrelenting look at the creation and long existence of the Simpsons, with information and quotes culled from sources varying from personal interviews from the author to snippets of publications dating back to the show's inception. A few moments of tension and drama (but nothing like the out-and-out Machiavellian backstabbing found in 'Hatching Twitter') punctuate what is otherwise a pleasantly collaborative and seemingly joyful tale.

Tracing the history of the show fr
Jan 08, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2010
There were a fair amount of pearls in the sections about the show's development and the discussions of the writers. I learned a lot about George Meyer. But beyond that, it was not entertaining. The analysis of the show's impact, by author John Ortvedt (who? exactly) and others, was not particularly insightful in most cases. Opinions were frequently presented as facts and not supported. Egregious typos and factual errors were rampant; some people's names were spelled in two different ways in the ...more
Alex Marriott
Oct 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
I can see why people wouldn't love this - not the best written book you will ever read and aside from the bunches of loosely strung together second hand quotes, John Ortved comes across as quite nasty, taking not-so-subtle swipes at those he feels are responsible for not producing gold all the time or those who have perhaps fallen out with his favourites.

However, it contains lot of material and perspectives I've neither seen elsewhere or considered before. Far from detracting from the series bei
Jan 04, 2010 rated it liked it
Overall interesting and fun to read. John Ortved's running comments were, for the most part, lame. Formulating the 'storyline" and putting contributors comments in context works. His personal comments and opinions on what is happening at the time see clumsy. This book's strength lies in the voices of the people who actually worked on the show, their anecdotes and behind the scenes dirt, not in Ortved's opinions on the show.

I liked the "oral history" format and how the book was put together. The
Jeff Talbott
Dec 29, 2009 rated it liked it
This never-dull oral history of The Simpsons is also slightly repetitive and loses steam about halfway through. Author/Editor John Ortved says in the opening that it will not be objective, and that becomes clearer and clearer as he says time and time again the best years of the show are 10 years behind us. Though this may be true, it starts to sound as if it's the ax he came to grind rather than the conclusion we're all arriving at together. Still, it's great to read eyewitness accounts about th ...more
Erin O'Riordan
Aug 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
The beginning is a bit slow, but once it gets into the actual show and not just the participants' backgrounds, it gets more interesting. The last chapters are quite harsh on the show's latter seasons, and even the Simpsons movie, which I think is fairly brilliant. I liked Planet Simpson: How a Cartoon Masterpiece Defined a Generation better - it is more personal and reverential. Comprehensive and factual, but lacking in heart.
Nov 08, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: pop-culture, history
Parts of this book were interesting. There is a lot of insider information. Just because you like sausage doesn't mean you will enjoy seeing how it was mad.
Feb 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
If you're interested in a sometimes repetitive but ultimately informative history of one of the greatest shows in television history, John Ortved's book is hard to beat.

My history with The Simpsons is somewhat storied: my parents forbade me from watching it during the first season and stuck to their guns after briefly relenting during Herb Powell's first appearance in the second season. I ruined it for myself when I mimicked Bart's repeated sing-song use of the word "bastard" in reference to his
Steven Yenzer
May 10, 2017 rated it liked it
I absolutely loved getting an inside view of The Simpsons's history, writer's room, and controversies. Unfortunately Ortved is a puzzlingly weak writer, and the main reason the book works is that it's an oral history — so he writes (relatively) infrequently.

Ortved seems to enjoy highfalutin digressions, such as when he uses Roland Barthes' "The Death of the Author" to try to make a point about how The Simpsons has no true single creator. His writing is also simply awkward or difficult to underst
May 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
Having just read oral histories about The Daily Show and Sat Night Live, I have learned that making an oral history about a tv show is hard. After reading this one, I see that making one about an animated show is even harder. Little time can be spent on actors, so you're left to discussing writers, producers, and the money men -- all of whom are less interesting. So much of this is about the backstage jockeying -- or credit, for money -- and not the actual show. I stopped halfway thru ... and I ...more
Jan 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a great book not only for Simpsons fans, but for those intrigued by media culture as well.
Joel Paradee
Mar 09, 2017 rated it liked it
The oral history sections of the book are a great insight into the world of TV's Favorite Family. But each bold faced section, where the author speaks, is hard to stomach.
Mar 12, 2017 rated it liked it
The stories involving Conan O'Brien are funny.
Jul 16, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Like most kids who came of age in the go-go 90's there were two things I could safely rely on: 1) computers would keep getting cooler 2) at least twice a night you could watch an episode of The Simpsons that would make you laugh uproariously.

My godmother, a saint of a woman and middle school English teacher, gave me Simpsons comics to read in church. After a few hours of snooty disapproval my mother, father and grandmother became regular viewers. While things became less hilarious over time, y
Jan 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
I suppose that's a rounded-up four, especially since I'm grading on a curve, having bought the book at a Borders sale and then reading its less than spectacular reviews. There are major flaws, like how there's a chapter on Conan, who only worked on the show a few years after it started, but not on John Swartzwelder or George Meyer, who were there from the beginning and stayed for more than a decade. Granted, I know the obvious answers, that Conan's a celebrity and and that he agreed to talk to O ...more
Aug 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
I had high expectations for this book. Perhaps too high. Perhaps high for no reason, since the general consensus of reviews I had come across can be summed up by "Meh."

This is an "oral history" of sorts, put together by a man who wrote a [i]Simpsons[/i] article for "Vanity Fair" in 2007. He scraped together interviews with some people and foraged some resources, but could not get many of the main people involved. For example, take a look at the credits of [i]The Simpsons[/i] some time, you will
M. Milner
Let's start with the best part of this book. Ortved offers up a history of The Simpsons, probably the most important (and certainly the most culturally relevant) show of our time. There's a trove in information here in the genesis of the show and about the principals behind it. And Ortved's done his homework. Although he doesn't always speak to the principals, he sees to it their voices - Matt Groening and George Meyer stand out in particular - still appear, albiet from other sources. His book e ...more
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
It's mostly an overview about how awful it is to be a writer on a sitcom. I'd say for fanatics only but I don't know any Simpson fanatics that would find anything they don't all ready know in this book.
Mark Mikula
Apr 26, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
John Ortved's history of The Simpsons attempts the same feat as Live from New York, television critic Tom Shales's history of Saturday Night Live told through quotes from various people involved in the show (writers, performers, executives). I own the Saturday Night Live retrospective, but I haven't read it yet. I picked up Ortved's book from the library because I am an unapologetic fan of animated series, despite calls from former devotees to put an end to the show already because it ran its co ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Inside Pee-wee's Playhouse: The Untold, Unauthorized, and Unpredictable Story of a Pop Phenomenon
  • What's Science Ever Done For Us: What the Simpsons Can Teach Us About Physics, Robots, Life, and the Universe
  • The Simpsons and Philosophy: The D'oh! of Homer
  • Planet Simpson: How a Cartoon Masterpiece Defined a Generation
  • Television Without Pity: 752 Things We Love to Hate (and Hate to Love) About TV
  • The War for Late Night: When Leno Went Early and Television Went Crazy
  • Somebody: The Reckless Life and Remarkable Career of Marlon Brando
  • The Simpsons Guide to Springfield
  • Dexter and Philosophy: Mind over Spatter
  • Thirty-Nine Years of Short-Term Memory Loss: The Early Days of SNL from Someone Who Was There
  • The Psychology of Dexter
  • Halfway To Hollywood: Diaries 1980 to 1988 (Palin Diaries, #2)
  • Tears of a Clown: Glenn Beck and the Tea Bagging of America
  • Life: The Movie: How Entertainment Conquered Reality
  • American Zombie Gothic: The Rise and Fall (and Rise) of the Walking Dead in Popular Culture
  • Traditions & Encounters, Volume 1 From the Beginning to 1500
  • Lightning Man: The Accursed Life of Samuel F. B. Morse
  • Doctor Who and Philosophy: Bigger on the Inside (Popular Culture and Philosophy)