With 28 seasons, 618 episodes (about 300 good ones), and an endless influence on society and pop culture, The Simpsons gives us much to discuss. Keeping this in mind, it’s hard to think of a show that would be better suited to the podcast format. There are a few active podcasts that discuss The Simpsons, like Australia’s Four Finger Discount and The Simpsons Show, which dissects every episode individually (they’re currently up to “The Cartridge Family”). That being said, there’s one Simpsons podcast that is sadly coming to an end, the lesser-known (but beloved by its fans) Jerks From Tower One.
The name is a fittingly obscure reference for the geekiness that ensues, coming from two New Yorkers arguing with each other from what was the World Trade Center in “The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson” (you may remember that after 9/11, the episode was banned from television briefly due its portrayal of the towers). The four hosts tend to just start talking without introduction, but I believe their names are Mike, Bill, Jesse, and Greg, and at least two of them are school teachers. Unlike most podcasts that tend to post once or twice a week, the Jerks can be a bit sparse, often going months at a time without posting (since its inception in November 2012, there have been just 30 episodes). But while it may take awhile for episodes to appear, when a new one finally comes, it’s always worth the wait. Jerks From Tower One features some of the most thoughtful, intelligent discussion of The Simpsons that you’ll find anywhere.
Their best episodes explore the relationships between individual characters. For example, a recent episode discussed the tension between Homer Simpson and Ned Flanders. When discussing the episode “Dead Putting Society,” they note that while Flanders is generally super nice and Homer takes things way too far, Ned actually is a bit condescending when pointing out Homer’s crabgrass, so Homer’s outrage isn’t entirely unwarranted. They also note Ned’s famous meltdown in “Hurricane Neddy,” and in particular, his exchange with Homer:
Flanders: “Homer, you are the worst human being I have ever met.” Homer: [as Flanders walks away] “Hey, I got off pretty easy.”
The Jerks adroitly observe that the genius of this scene is that Homer actually gets it worse than anyone else. Yes, he calls Moe an “ugly hate-filled man” and refers to Chief Wiggum as “the long flabby arm of the law,” but it’s clear that in his moment of rage, he hates Homer more than anyone else. But because he says this calmly, rather than screaming at him like he does with everyone else, Homer feels like he didn’t get it so bad. His understanding of the situation is surface-deep. Our four hosts have a great sense of how the show works and how the characters play off each other.
Other fine episodes include a discussion of the show’s episodes exploring homosexuality, and an episode where the Jerks tell us the personal lessons they’ve learned from the show. Even the episodes that simply involve the hosts talking about their respective favorite episodes from a given season or set of seasons give comprehensive commentaries on what takes place. Unlike Dead Homer Society, which thoroughly condemns the newer “Zombie Simpsons” era, the Jerks are a little more open to finding good things in the newer episodes. Each of the last two seasons have been dissected on the show, with the hosts agreeing that while The Simpsons will never return to what it was in its golden era, there is still a lot to like about it now, and that it’s likely a bit better than it was in, say, the mid-2000s. Even you disagree with their assessment of the newer seasons, they make a strong case for the worthiness of modern Simpsons, particularly when they discuss the overlooked season 28 episode “There Will Be Buds,” which focuses on the life of one of the show’s sadder characters, Kirk Van Houten. They praise the episode’s sympathetic, complex portrayal of someone who is often just made out to be a punchline, observing that even this late in its run, The Simpsons is still capable of thoughtfully exploring its wide array of characters.
Unfortunately, the Jerks recently announced on Twitter that their next episode will be their last. I can’t blame them for deciding to end the project, especially considering that the gap between episodes was growing wider, but I am nonetheless sad to know that after the final episode posts, my favorite podcast will be no more. That being said, the body of work assembled here is quite impressive. Over 30 episodes, the Jerks have brilliantly dissected the ins and outs of The Simpsons in ways that gave diehard fans of the show plenty to chew on. If you’re a Simpsons fan, and you haven’t listened to Jerks, I implore you to check out the archives for some truly cromulent discourse.
Check out Jerks From Tower One over at Apple Podcasts.