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Planet Simpson: How a Cartoon Masterpiece Defined a Generation
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Planet Simpson: How a Cartoon Masterpiece Defined a Generation

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3.6  ·  Rating details ·  699 Ratings  ·  85 Reviews
D'oh-it's "The Simpsons." And here's the book with the behind-the-scenes story of how America's favorite nuclear family first arrived at a TV near you, how the series grew into a worldwide icon, and who brings it to life so brilliantly week after week, year after year. Since first airing in 1987 as a cartoon interlude on the short-lived "Tracey Ullman Show," "The Simpsons" ...more
Paperback, 450 pages
Published October 18th 2005 by Da Capo Press (first published September 13th 2004)
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K.D. Absolutely
Sep 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Nice book. It is a detailed discussion of the history of the The Simpsons:thesimpsonsWhy did this pop phenomenon click with the audience? According to Turner it is because "all families are, in one way or another, a mess but we still love our families." This is very true. The dysfunctional family of the Simpsons seems to represent not only the most middle class families in the US but I would say in the whole world. As they say, no one is perfect so I guess we can also say that no family is perfect. We com ...more
Libertine
Sep 26, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

I've been a devotee of the Simpsons for many years now, and when I saw this book at the library, I checked it out, thinking it would have some interesting tidbits about the show.

However, I never finished the book, as the writing style was boring and ponderous. The author took himself and his subject matter much too seriously. The book was a pathetic attempt to prove how urbane and sophisticated the author thought he was. It was as if he'd swallowed several encyclopedias about popular culture and
...more
Dimitri
Apr 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
Not an in-depth look at the creation of the series, but at the innumerable hidden jokes, cultural references, social commentary, impact upon 90's TV animation... in short, the phenomenon.
It's a delight to read when you're a Simpsons fan, including the character bios puzzled together from details spread across the (then) 20 seasons ...but anno 2010+ , 99% of this is avaliable 99 thousand times on the internet...
Jamie
Sep 02, 2008 rated it did not like it
I love me some Simpsons, but I really didn't like this book. Ostensibly it's about The Simpsons television series and after reading the dust jacket I expected to find stories and anecdotes about the show, its history, its creators, and the like. Kind of like an episode of VH1's "Behind the Music" for the show, except with 40% less drugs. Instead, Planet Simpson turns out to be a platform for the author's politics, with amusing Simpsons quotes thrown in when relevant.

If I had to pick one word to
...more
Kevin Lewis
Apr 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Absolutely vital. Not only is it the best book ever written about The Simpsons, it's not even all that much about The Simpsons. A great analysis of the 90s, the generation of The Simpsons, and why satire was the perfect form of art to comment and relate to us then and now. The book has its flaws, but they are easily overlooked as the sum total of the book is nothing short of a perfectly casual interplay of television, mass culture, and modern history. Stop reading this, and start reading it.
Spencer
Mar 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
If you like your beer cold, your TV loud, and your homosexuals flaming, this book may not be for you.

It's not the story of how the Simpsons got - and stayed - on TV. It's not an insidery tell-all. It doesn't teach you how to draw Mr. Burns.

Instead, it's an examination of how the show fits into our broader culture and why it is an important cultural phenomenon. You might not find that sort of thing interesting - and that's okay. But I do, and I thought it was groin-grabbingly great.
Amber
Jun 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The thing about me is that I love The Simpsons. I'm not one of those people who refer to episodes by their alpha-numerical title or could identify the essentially reclusive writers in a line up or anything, but I know more than the average person and my adoration for this show is incredibly pure and forgiving.

This book sites one of my personal favorite episodes (4F23, "The Principal and the Pauper") and the point at which the show declined from its "Golden Age" to its "Long Plateau". It is an e
...more
Grace
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-favorites
Long and meandering, not only does the author discuss The Simpsons, but uses the show as a jumping off point to talk about satire, ironic culture, corporate and authoritarian ineptitude, moral crusades of the 90s, consumerism, the rise of the internet, Radiohead, Nirvana, the DIY aesthetic...I mean, what's not to love?

He makes a convincing argument for Bart as a punk icon and Homer as the pure expression of the id, Lisa as the voice of progressivism, Marge as the defender of family values, Kent
...more
James
Aug 13, 2016 rated it it was ok
I'm marking this as done, but I'll be honest: I hardly got past page 50 of this 400-and-something long tome. This was just boring and painful.

Chalk me up as a huge Simpsons fan - I rewatch episodes constantly and love the deep layers and textures the cartoon series has built over time. So I really thought a book geeking over The Simpsons would sit well with me.

It doesn't. Planet Simpson is an overlong essay on someone's opinions about the show. Chris Turner references plenty of valid examples,
...more
Scott
Jul 10, 2009 rated it did not like it
I could say that this book reminds me of a young Rory Calhoun, but then that would lead me to wonder why Rory wasn't summarily executed for the good of humankind. To steal a line from a (Season 8 episode) "Hurricane Neddy" cameo...

Jay Sherman: It stinks! It stinks! It stinks!

Yes, this is a first, folks, the is THE FIRST book I have EVER given up on. This book would be better served by having the title changed to "My Rantings and Ravings That Have Only a Small Relation to the Simpsons In Any Form
...more
Mr_Toad
Jun 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
It seems that many commentators were looking for a "fun_read". Well, that's OK, but this book has much more to offer than simply entertainmment.

This book tackles serious issues which western society seems piteously unable to correct. For example, to quote Matt Groening himself this time:

"In America, television is interrupted every seven minutes by a barrage of commercials. The overall message is that nothing matters. In fact, the more urgent the material, the more its urgency is diluted."

Some of
...more
Dante
Nov 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: High-brow SIMPSONS fans
THE SIMPSONS is hands-down my favorite half-hour TV series ever -- and if push came to shove I might have to drop the "half-hour" qualification and simply say that it's my favorite TV series ever. So when I happened upon Chris Turner's book (on ebay, if memory serves), I was intrigued.

Suffice it to say that I enjoyed Turner's musings on THE SIMPSONS and its influence on (and reflection of) modern life. Turner is certainly intelligent, well-read, and has written a far more erudite examination of
...more
Marsha
Mar 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: humor, non-fiction
The television show that started out as filler has nearly reached its quarter-century mark and this book details why it’s been so irresistible to American audiences. Could it be its poster child for bad boys, Bart Simpson, who brings naughtiness to heights not seen since Dennis the Menace? Or its goofball moron Homer Simpson, who succeeds in spite of gross ineptitude? Maybe it’s Marge Simpson, the kind, long-suffering spouse who loves her children as fiercely as her husband does and has her own ...more
Peter Smith
May 28, 2014 rated it did not like it
I found this book on the shelf at a Barnes and Noble one day and read the first chapter on the spot. It seemed to be a pretty contemporary and smart look at one of the greatest TV shows of all time and being the huge Simpsons geek that I am, I bought it right there and then. Well, that turned out to be a mistake because I realized that it was less a book about the Simpsons than a long-winded diatribe by the author on what he thought was wrong with the world mentioning the Simpsons every once in ...more
Tracey
Dec 19, 2007 rated it did not like it
Shelves: libraryread, stalled
I checked this book out from the library... and am sadly disappointed by what could have been a fun read

The book is "completely unauthorized"; since Turner was unable to interview anyone involved with the show, the source material is secondhand at best, and the bulk of the book is based solely on the author's opinions and taste.

Ok - so the title alone should be a warning as to the level of slavish devotion the author pays to his subject matter. The forays into fanboy wank were occasionally anno
...more
Etola
Mar 09, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2007, nonfiction
I have to say, after a long time looking forward to reading this book, I never bothered to finish it. I got maybe 3/4 of the way through by the time I decided it just wasn't holding me. The only parts I really enjoyed were the Simpsons quotes, and the actual history of the show itself. He made some interesting points on some of the characters, but nothing so deep or startling to really hold my interest.

I have a feeling that the author wasn't quite sure what sort of book he was writing. The book
...more
ERIN SCHMIDT
Apr 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got a tremendous amount of pleasure from listening to this audiobook - but then, I've been a fan of the Simpson clan since the days of the Tracey Ullman shorts. Turner's writing is humorous and insightful. He does show a bit of bias, however, and I hope you won't think it too, as the French say, Lisa-esque of me to point out that Turner:

- Uses the word "mankind" when, clearly, he means "humankind"
- Uses the word "coed" when, clearly, he means "student" - an anachronism which, by the way, makes
...more
Emily
Aug 04, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a in-depth academic study of how the Simpsons affected pop culture in the early 90s, and into the early 2000s.

It is a book that disses big business, religion, family values, corporations, and greed. It is definitely a book that is the authors politics wrapped up with Simpsons quotes. But, he does offer an interesting hypothesis about how the Simpsons has affected modern culture. If you don't like words like pertinent, or malaise, or any other high-brow vocabulary … Don't read this.
...more
A
Mar 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book's worth is somewhere just below The Rebel Sell, my opinion. It talks about Burns a lot, Lindsay Naegle, Troy McClure celebrity culture.

Talks about politics, saying people who fly on jets to protest meetings support the globalization of cultural ideas, basic Lisa. Which is in turn like the image of melted Bart anchoring the Thai language fansite. The first Pacific island nation which is going to subside with rising oceans has a .tv domain name, which is worth oh so much in a world where
...more
Josh C.
Jan 10, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 3-gone, dnf
I like the Simpsons.
I like Canada.
I like media critiques, cultural critiques, and especially social analysis of pop-culture phenomena.
I work with academic research every day.
I deal with plenty of leftist politics, given where I live.

But I didn't like this book at all. Two parts Simpsons-fan one-upsmanship, two parts journo trying to overwrite his way to academic credibility, one part irrelevant Canadiana, and one part the "Don't you hate George W. Bush? Man, I hate George W. Bush. Doesn't everyo
...more
Gina
Aug 20, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: self important Simpson's fans
I picked up this book because I am a huge Simpson's fan. However, if I wasn't a fan before, I wouldn't be one after listening to this book.

He's one of those authors who takes an interesting subject & beats it to death with self-important fluff & didactic droning.

He vacillated between how cool he was as an early Simpson's fan & how the Simpson's were the preeminent force of culture in the late 20th & early 21 century. Give me a break.

I usually don't like versions that are abrid
...more
Kris Sparks
Mar 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
I spotted Homer's large dome three aisles away in the library and knew I must read this book. I had read "The Gospel According to the Simpsons" and thought this would be along the same lines. Tidbits and philosophies on the Simpsons that maybe you didn't pickup on during the first or twelve viewing. Nope, this is a cataloged pop culture, Simpsons sociology 3XXX course. I loved it though, it had rough spots but I genuinely walked away having a better knowledge of the decade I grew up in. I fell i ...more
Robert Guenette
Sep 21, 2012 rated it liked it
If you're not a fan of the Simpsons, you're going to have a hard time getting through this. Chris Turner writes clearly and cleverly for the Simpsons fan, drawing allusions to famous (and less famous) episodes while still managing to slip subtle jokes and references into the text. He does have a tendency to ramble and venture off-topic, only managing to relate it to his argument somewhat weakly. Regardless of that it is still a great read for any Simpsons fan who also has an interest in North Am ...more
Adrienne
Jun 02, 2009 rated it liked it
A fairly comprehensive analysis of the most important animated series. Ever. Some personal observations on his own life and experiences by the author (meh) and some Cana-centricism (the author is Canadian) that were of lesser appeal to me. Still, I like The Simpsons so much it was nice to have what seemed to be a long conversation about the rich, complex, and meaningful world that they have managed to construct through the show over the years. Turner quite often was able to put his finger at the ...more
Rick Schultz
Feb 22, 2016 rated it liked it
published in 2005, read in 2016, so it is a bit dated.

Audiobook has excellent voice impersonations. Can get grating, but you can tell Marge from Lisa right away.

A love letter to the Simpsons, though it's not afraid to discuss the failings of the show. Gives a critical history of the historical context of Western civilization in the 90s- mid-00s.

Would be at least four stars if (A) didn't keep repeating the same anecdotes (yes, we know the writers identify with Lisa) and (B) if the critical eye
...more
Terry Collins
Mar 03, 2015 rated it liked it
Insightful at times, thought-provoking at others, and colored throughout with Chris Turner's own experiences, personal history and viewpoint about history's longest running animated television series. This can be useful, but also annoying (I really don't care much about his college and bar experiences). Some fine reading for hardcore Simpsons fanatics, with great quotes culled from sources going back to the beginning (The Tracy Ullman Show, anyone?), but beware ... quite often, this reads more l ...more
Laura
Jan 11, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bad-book
Worst book ever!!


Urggh....This book was a headache! I didn't even finish it. I stopped and started it so many times..Trying to like this book just didn't work. The whole book overal isn't enjoyable. Rarely do I dislike a book as much as I did with this one.

This book just outright frustrated me. It felt like this guy just wanted to see his own words published and forget that other people might purchase it thinking they'll be getting an insightful read about The Simpsons. I'm sure if you cut out h
...more
Wendy Palmer
Nov 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, non-fiction
This was so much better than I thought it would be -- an engrossing overview of how the peak years of the Simpsons charted the course of the 90s. Starting from the assumption that culture, even (or especially) pop culture, reflects society rather than merely forms from it, Turner painstakingly puts forth his arguments for how the main characters and the plotlines of the Simpsons are representations of various 90s trends, from the rising power of corporations to the resurgance of fundamentalism, ...more
Christian
Mar 03, 2014 rated it liked it
Rambling, self-indulgent & hyperbolic, this book treats the Simpsons as the greatest satiric masterpiece of the 20th century. It kinda is, but the constant hammering of the point paradoxically makes Planet Simpson feel false, as if the author is trying to convince himself that Simpsons fans are on a higher plane of existence.
Along with some decent deconstructs of Simpsons characters, there are rambling tangents on everything from the history of the Internet to Metafilter to Wilco. I like tho
...more
Andre
Aug 24, 2014 rated it liked it
I thought this book was a good (although kind of boring) analysis of The Simpsons' place in pop culture. A lot of other reviewers talk about how dreadful Turner's writing is, and I wouldn't say it's terrible, but he does tend to take very long tangents. His chapter on Bart Simpson ended up taking me from Bart as a punk icon to some party he went to and the band Nirvana (and to go a long time on that train ride was not a state of nirvana.)

I'd recommend it to any serious Simpson fan, but look out
...more
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CHRIS TURNER is an award-winning author and one of Canada’s leading writers and speakers on climate change solutions and the global energy transition. His bestsellers The Leap and The Geography of Hope were both National Business Book Award finalists. His feature writing has earned nine National Magazine Awards. He lives in Calgary with his wife, Ashley Bristowe, and their two children.

There is m
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“If there are unforeseen and potentially disastrous repercussions to the rash acts of the ignorant, so too are there unanticipated consequences buried in works of genius.” 1 likes
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