I already wrote about this special here. But, because it’s Christmas, why don’t I plagiarize my own ideas?
The first episode of The Simpsons was a Christmas special. And what a special it was. While it’s certainly not the first to focus on the plight of poor people during the holidays, it is perhaps the most real. This wasn’t yet The Simpsons who would — in their world and ours — stumble into fame and riches. Rather, it was a humble family desperately trying to make Christmas a reality.
Everything from the “Christmases Around The World” school assembly to Homer’s horrid Santa job are grounded in a reality that most Christmas specials lack and The Simpsons later lost.
“Simpsons Roasting Over An Open Fire” recognizes Christmas as it really is for many families — a hard, but good time. While other specials portray Christmas as endlessly magical, and others portray it as a cynical bullshit holiday with no joy in sight, The Simpsons expertly mark it as both.
It’s a two-sided coin. While later specials such as Marge Be Not Proud would cover familiar territory in the greed and dishonesty of the holiday, this first special captures the struggling of Christmas more than any other special before or since.
Mike Drucker is a lovely man with many positive characteristics. He has written for Saturday Night Live, The Onion, McSweeney’s, and Nintendo. He’s also a stand-up or something, I guess.