Matt Groening's cartoon creation and The Fox TV series "The Simpsons" has set another record with the running of it's recent milestone 500th episode on Sunday, February 19th. "The Simpsons" is now one of the longest-running sitcoms in television history, saddling up next to "Gunsmoke," which holds the record with 635 episodes and closing in on "Lassie," which was on for 588 episodes. The pop culture phenomenon has been creating laughter on the airwaves and couch potatoes for 23 straight seasons. To honor fans, the show opened with a montage of some of the best couch gag scenes from the past 23 years.
Sunday's celebratory episode delivered an impressive 30% spike in viewership for Fox on an otherwise slow weekend evening. In honor of the show, two Super Simpson fans, Jeremiah Franco and Carin Shreve set a new Guinness World Record for longest continuous television viewing by watching a marathon 86 hours and 37 minutes of The Simpsons. The hoopla around this animated achievement has created an impressive buzz online where the Simpson's has a remarkable presence and some 40 million Facebook fans.
In a Q&A with the Los Angeles Times on reaching the 500th episode, Matt Groening explains how the Internet enables constant criticism and analysis of every single episode of the show. Even if sometimes painful, Groening believes the great thing about the web is that it allows people to participate.
A surprise for the show was the guest appearance of controversial WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange. In the episode, the residents of their beloved hometown, Springfield, decide to send the Simpsons into exile by kicking them out of town for all the trouble they have caused over the years. Marge and Homer go to Assange in an attempt to clear their names. The show's executive producer Al Jean told Entertainment Weekly, "There was discussion internally whether or not to have him on the show, but ultimately we went ahead and did it."
The response to the 500th episode has been mixed but very nostalgic. Even the strongest critics have to admire its longevity and faithful fans joke that it could go on forever. Bill Oakley, one of the longtime veteran Simpsons writers treated his Twitter following to a list of episodes that were written but never made it on air.
#Simpsons I searched my old files & will Tweet the Top 10 episodes that were pitched, discussed, written but not aired...In honor of 500th