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The Simpsons is the TV equivalent of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (once parodied in the opening “couch gag”). After it came along, nothing was the same, and it established a generation’s cultural references and sensibility. (Is there any situation without a suitable Simpsons quote?) Starting out as a family cartoon, it grew a cast of hundreds that spanned celebrity (Ranier Wolfcastle), religion (the de-diddly-vout Flanders family), business (C. Montgomery Burns) and immigration (Apu). But maybe its best and favorite subject has been television itself—”Teacher, mother, secret lover!”—which it has lampooned through Krusty the Clown, Kent Brockman and the Laramie Cigarette sponsorship of Radioactive Man. It even embodies its own critique in the person of crabby superfan Comic Book Guy, but for all the long-lived series’ ups and downs, it remains the Best. TV Show. Ever.

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