The Simpsons producers Matt Selman and David Silverman explain the real-world origins of the iconic in-universe cartoon, The Itchy & Scratchy Show.
The Simpsons producers Matt Selman and David Silverman break down the real-world inspirations behind Springfield’s beloved in-universe children’s cartoon segment, The Itchy & Scratchy Show. Selman is the long-running animated sitcom’s current showrunner, having taken on the role in 2005 after being a writer and executive producer, while Silverman has served as a director and animator on the series since its early days as animated shorts that would feature on The Tracey Ullman Show. The Simspons chronicles the lives of Homer (Dan Castellaneta), Marge (Julie Kavner), Bart (Nancy Cartwright), Lisa (Yeardley Smith), and Maggie Simpson, a satirical take on the typical American family living in the fictional town of Springfield.
In a video breaking down The Simpsons‘ most iconic moments by GQ, Selman and Silverman explain the origins of the show’s fictional cartoon, “The Itchy and Scratchy Show”, which has been a mainstay up until the currently ongoing season 34. Selman reveals that Itchy and Scratchy allowed the showrunners to make jokes about their experiences producing an animation, while Silverman revealed they were based on Famous Studios’ Herman & Katnip animated shorts. Silverman also revealed which joke relating to Itchy and Scratchy received the most pushback from higher-ups at the-the 20th Television. Check out Selman and Silverman’s recollection below:
Matt Selman – When we wanna do jokes about our place in the real world, do those jokes about Itchy and Scratchy in The Simpsons’ world.
David Silverman – And Matt Groening originally parodied them after Herman and Katnip, which were a more violent version of Tom and Jerry. You know, the thing about cartoon characters is that they recover from incredible pain really quickly, y’know, and that’s the comedy. But not Herman and Katnip.As a kid I would watch it going like “There’s something off about these cartoons.”.
My favorite example of getting pushback was not from that, but we had an episode called “The Front”, where grandpa is fronting for Lisa and Bart writing episodes for Itchy and Scratchy. And there’s a shot that has caricatures of, like, Jim Reardon and a few other animators. “To make Itchy and Scratchy seem more realistic, animators study real cats and mice”, and then the Jim Reardon onne puts a small firecracker in the cat’s mouth. “Is that real dynamite?”, “Noooooo”, and then they go out into the hallway, boom!And the door flies off the hinges. They said “Well, you can’t do that”, and we said “Well, we do that to Itchy and Scratchy all the time”. And literally the response was, “Yes, but those are a cartoon.”.
How The Simpsons Continues To Stay Relevant After 30+ Years
Despite having aired for over 33 years, The Simpsons‘ continued popularity has guaranteed that the series has remained a constant fixture of Fox’s programming, even after the company and property were acquired by The Walt Disney Company. With its longevity, however, the series has also been met with criticisms that the later seasons have declined in quality from the heights of its popularity during The Simpsons‘ commonly perceived “Golden Age”. As such, though later seasons have produced stories that many viewers consider “New classics”, many have also questioned whether the show can continue any further between the show producing well-received episodes and the ages of the cast.
While many viewers may see the show as having long passed its “Golden Age”, however, the crew behind The Simpsons has continued to try to keep the series innovative and fresh for audiences. In more recent seasons, the show has not only experimented with its long-held traditions such as filming episode-length “Treehouse of Horror” parodies and foregoing the show’s yearly seasonal episodes, but the series has also incorporated new styles of animation. This can be seen in episodes including season 34’s “Treehouse of Horror XXXIII”‘s Death Note anime parody and the series’ couch gags produced by guest animators. With the show’s crew willing to break away from the show’s traditional format and styles, it is clear is the showrunners behind The Simpsons are willing to experiment and give audiences something new, rather than playing it safe and sticking to what worked in the past.
After over 33 years, The Simpsons has become an immovable, incredibly recognizable part of pop culture, with many of its characters, jokes, and segments becoming instantly recognizable to audiences that grew up with the show. Alongside ongoing gags such as Bart’s prank calls to bartender Moe Syzlak (Hank Azaria), catchphrases like Homer’s “D’oh!” exclamation, and the series’ many opening couch gags, Itchy and Scratchy is one such element that has stood the test of time. And while the show’s parody of early 20th-century cartoons like Herman & Katnip and Tom & Jerry may be well-known to audiences, many longtime fans may be surprised to hear that the people behind the show used the segments about their own lives producing a hit animated series.
Next: The Simpsons Season 34 Brings Back (And Changes) One Of Its Oldest Gags